“Come gather ’round people wherever you roam. And admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin’,” Bob Dylan wrote those lyrics in the 1960s.
He probably didn’t realize the impact that his music would have on American society then and now. His music and his actions have had such an impact that the President has seen fit to award the poetic musician with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dylan is considered one of the “most influential American musicians of the 20th century” because his music has reflected the culture of American society for over 5 decades. In the 60s his songs influenced the civil rights movement, in the 80s his voice helped raise money for famine relief on USA for Africa’s fundraising single “We Are the World,” and in the 90s Dylan was honored by the recording industry with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The new millenium cemented the songwriters impact on society when a study of US legal opinions and briefs found Dylan’s lyrics to be quoted more than any other songwriter by both lawyers and judges.
The 70-year-old singer is still touring and using his music to impact the world. He has supported charities that promote peace, seek to feed the hungry, and use music to raise relief funds for those in need. He has worked with Amnesty International, Feeding America, K9 Connection, Music Rising and has long been a supporter of End Hunger Now.
Dylan has earned many awards over his lifetime but the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the most prestigious. It is the highest civilian award in the United States. An individual who earns this award, bestowed by the President, has to have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture or other significant public or private endeavors.”
A musician who has created ver five decades of lyrics and music that has shaped and influenced the American people is well-deserving of such an award. Dylan will be honored with the Medal of Freedom along with twelve other prominent figures including John Glenn, Toni Morrison, and Madeleine Albright.