President Barack Obama awarded Bob Dylan with a Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a White House ceremony on Tuesday.
“Bob’s voice, with its weight, its unique gravely power, was redefining not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel,” Obama said of the legendary singer-songwriter, who joined a Nobel laureate (Toni Morrison), a former Supreme Court Justice (John Paul Stevens) and an astronaut (John Glenn) as recipients of the honor this year.
In his remarks, Obama said Dylan paved the way for other socially conscious artists like Bruce Springsteen and U2. “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music,” he glowed. “All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound, still searching for a little bit of truth.
And I have to say that I am a really big fan.”
Other honorees included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Dylan, who wore a dark suit and sunglasses at the Tuesday event, appeared at a White House concert two years ago to celebrate the civil rights movement. At that event, the rock icon performed his 1964 anthem, “The Times They Are a-Changin.”