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Bob Dylan lost ‘a lot of money’ for civil liberties organization after disastrous speech

In the early 1960s, Bob Dylan gave a speech while accepting an award from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee that went wrong. Not only did Dylan not want to be there, but the crowd booed him as he spoke. The moment made Dylan want to avoid any involvement in political groups. Looking back, however, he felt bad about the moment. He explained that he had inadvertently lost the organization’s money.

Bob Dylan | Val Wilmer/Redferns

Bob Dylan’s Speech at an Event for a Civil Liberties Committee Didn’t Go Well

In the early 1960s, as Dylan’s career took off, he received an award from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. He did not feel comfortable during the ceremony.

“Inside the ballroom, I really stood up. I started drinking,” he said the new yorker in 1964, noting, “I looked down from the dais and saw a bunch of people who had nothing to do with my kind of politics. I looked down and was scared. They were supposed to be on my side, but I felt no connection with them.

He tried to leave before accepting the award, but was persuaded to give a speech. It didn’t go well. People had been discussing Lee Harvey Oswald, so Dylan mentioned him in the speech.

“I had to say something about Lee Oswald,” he said. “I told them that I had read a lot of his feelings in the newspapers, and I knew he was tense. He said I had been tense too, so I had a lot of his feelings. I saw myself a lot in Oswald, I said, and I saw in him a lot of moments in which we all live. And, you know, they started booing. They looked at me like I was an animal. They actually thought I was saying it was a good thing that Kennedy was killed. That’s how far they are.

Bob Dylan said he lost civil liberties commission money because of his speech

Dylan resented the fact that he felt so alone that night. Still, he felt bad about how badly the speech had gone.

“The only thing I’m sorry for is that I guess I hurt the collection at dinner,” he said. “I didn’t know they were going to try to raise money after my speech. I guess I lost them a lot of money.

To compensate, he offered to pay them.

“Well, I offered to pay them everything they thought they lost because of the way I spoke,” he said. “I told them I didn’t care how much it was. I hate debts, especially moral debts. They are worse than debts of money.

He said he no longer wanted to be involved in political organizations

Although his music was highly political early in his career, Dylan wanted to move away from any political message after only a few years.

“I tell you, I will never have anything to do with a political organization again in my life,” he said. “Oh, I could help a friend if he campaigned for office. But I won’t be part of any organization. Those people at that dinner were the same as everyone else. They’re doing their time. They’re chained to this that they make.

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He said he didn’t like any part of the awards show.

“The only thing is they try to put morality and big deeds on their channels, but basically they don’t want to compromise their positions,” he said. “They have their jobs to keep. There’s nothing there for me, and there’s nothing there for the kind of people I hang out with.

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