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'Great poet' Dylan to get French honour after all

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Bob Dylan receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama in May 2012. It was confirmed on June 3rd that Dylan will receive a similar French honour. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP
14:38 CEST+02:00
Despite his reported fondnesss for weed and well-recorded warbashing, US folk music legend Bob Dylan has swayed offical France with his work, and the "great poet" will now become a member of the Légion d'Honneur, it was confirmed on Monday.

After weeks of controversy, the Legion d’Honneur awards committee confirmed on Monday the 72-year-old singer will indeed be given France's highest award.

The hallowed institution's initial reception to news that Dylan had been nominated by Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti was less positive.

Weekly satirical and investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchainé newspaper last month reported that Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French army general and Great Chancellor of the Légion d’honneur, was none too pleased to receive the name of Dylan, whose real name is Robert Zimmerman.

At the time, a representative from the Légion told The Local that there would be neither denial nor confirmation of any objections within the halls of the institution to the nomination of the anti-Vietnam War hero, which were said to be due to Dylan's pot-smoking, anti-war past.

The award's committee had since reviewed the "chaotic life and lyrics of an exceptional artist who is recognized in his own country and throughout the world as a major singer and a great poet,” Georgelin told Le Monde,

The general leads a 17-member panel that collectively decides whether to “receive” a nominee, based on that individual’s ”honour and morality.”

Having a criminal record, for example, would make a confirmation impossible.

"The board has now transmitted a favourable opinion to the president of the republic and the minister of culture will shortly be able to appoint Bob Dylan to the Légion d'Honneur," Georgelin confirmed.

While non-French citizens do not become full members of the Légion d’honneur, Dylan, if he accepts, will be allowed to wear the insignia alongside previous recipients such as noted anti-war activist Sir Paul McCartney.

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The former Beatle was made an Officer of the Légiond’honneur by French President François Hollande in 2012.

Last year, Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Barack Obama, the highest available civilian honour in the United States.

Dylan was a pacifist icon and leading voice in the campaign against American military intervention in Vietnam during the 1960s and 70s, and his protest song "Blowin' in the Wind" was a constant feature of anti-war gatherings during that era.

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