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Culture

Bob Dylan ‘unworthy’ of French Légion d’Honneur

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-10

Legendary musician Bob Dylan may no longer be in the running for France’s highest award, the Légion d’honneur, after a French general deemed him unworthy given his drug-taking and anti-war protesting past.

Bob Dylan’s wild pot-smoking and anti-war protesting days may have finally caught up with him after it emerged this week he could be out of the running for the Légion d'honneur, France’s highest award.

According to a report in Tuesday's French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé, the Grammy-winning folk musician was deemed unworthy of the title by General Jean-Louis Georgelin, the Great Chancellor of the Légion d’honneur, who helps lead a 17-person committee in deciding the final shortlist of candidates.

The French general was alerted to the American musician’s controversial past by a routine police check on potential prize winners to ensure a candidate’s suitability.

Dylan had been officially nominated to become a Knight of the Order on the 50th anniversary of the release of his classic album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by French Culture Secretary Aurélie Filippetti.

"I think it will work out. Anyway it would be a good sign for France, and for all those who love rock and roll music in general, we pay tribute to Bob Dylan," Ms. Filippetti told BFM.

Paul McCartney was the most recent foreigner to be named Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur - an interesting choice given it's believed that Dylan himself introduced The Beatles to cannabis.

If Dylan’s nomination is approved, he would join fellow foreign artists McCartney, Sean Connery, Miles Davis, Clint Eastwood, Gene Kelly, Liza Minelli, David Lynch, Norman Mailer, Luciano Pavarotti, Charlotte Rampling and Kristin Scott Thomas in the pantheon of French cultural fame. 

Though non-French citizens cannot be members of the Légion, one criterion for a foreigner to be named in the Légion d’Honneur is that they “defend humanitarian causes”.

Dylan was a pacifist icon and prominent campaigner against the Vietnam War; his protest song "Blowin' in the Wind" was a constant feature of anti-war protests during the 1960s and 70s.

If successful, this is just one of many accolades the iconic musician has received. France previously awarded Dylan the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1990 and in May 2012, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama, the highest available civilian honour in the United States.

Date created : 2013-05-10

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