Bob Dylan voted into American arts academyIf he lived in England, he’d surely be Sir Bob Dylan.
The most influential songwriter of his time has become the first rock star voted into the elite, century-old American Academy of Arts and Letters, where artists range from Philip Roth to Jasper Johns and categories include music, literature and visual arts. According to executive director Virginia Dajani, officials couldn’t decide whether he belonged for his words or for his music, so they settled on making him an honorary member, joining such previous choices as Meryl Streep, Woody Allen and a filmmaker who has made a documentary about Dylan, Martin Scorsese.
“The board of directors considered the diversity of his work and acknowledged his iconic place in the American culture,’’ Dajani said recently. “Bob Dylan is a multitalented artist whose work so thoroughly crosses several disciplines that it defies categorization.’’
Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen, had no immediate comment on Dylan’s reaction - Dylan did accept membership, a condition for the vote to go through - or whether he would attend the academy’s April dinner or May induction ceremony. Dylan usually tours in the spring and is already booked for much of April for shows in the East and Midwest, none of them in the New York City area.
“I would guess it’s unlikely,’’ Dajani said of whether Dylan would show up for either occasion.
The 71-year-old Dylan is already the first rock performer to receive a nomination from the National Book Critics Circle, for his memoir “Chronicles: Volume One’’; and the first to receive a Pulitzer Prize, an honorary one in 2008. He’s routinely mentioned as a Nobel candidate and for decades has been scrutinized obsessively by academics and popular critics.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, will give the keynote address at the May ceremony. The title will be “Rock ’n’ Roll.’’