Bob Dylan has received France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor, in a brief ceremony in Paris.
Presenting him with the award, France’s Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said Bob Dylan was a hero for young people hungry for justice and independence.
Bob Dylan has famously never liked being used as a spokesman for other people’s causes.
After the speech, Bob Dylan said simply that he was “proud and grateful” and left.
No cameras were allowed for the ceremony at the culture ministry.
Bob Dylan, 72, has never recorded any songs in French but a generation of people in France fell in love with his music and his message in the 1960s and 70s.
Cover versions were legion, many of them by the singer Hugues Aufray, who was in the audience.
In her speech, Aurelie Filippetti waxed lyrical about Bob Dylan’s cultural importance.
Naming song after song, ranging from The Times They Are A-Changin’ in the 1960s to Time Out Of Mind in the 1990s, Aurelie Filippetti sought to tie them to eras and causes such as the US civil rights movement.
Bob Dylan, she told him in the speech, had himself been inspired by poets including the French symbolists Verlaine et Rimbaud.
The minister also made an awkward allusion to Dylan’s influence on the famous Paris student uprising of May 1968.
A journalist who attended the ceremony said Bob Dylan had looked distinctly uncomfortable.
Bob Dylan, who is playing concerts in Paris this week, met Justice Minister Christiane Taubira at a reception after the ceremony, Le Parisien newspaper reports. No details were given.
Bob Dylan’s award was temporarily blocked earlier this year after army general Jean-Louis Georgelin, the Grand Chancellor of the Legion, voiced reservations about his use of cannabis and anti-war politics.
Established by Napoleon, the Order of the Legion of Honor is presented to individuals who have served France in various ways.