Patti Smith delivered an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden Saturday. Watch the performance starting at the 1:03:00 mark in the video here.
Smith sang The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan classic from the Nobel lectern, where she was backed by acoustic guitar, a pedal steel guitar and orchestra.
Midway through the song, Smith repeated a lyric, forcing her to briefly pause and recompose before resuming with the rendition at the start of that section. “I’m sorry. I apologize, I’m so nervous,” Smith told the audience, who applauded Smith’s honesty.
Smith’s rendition followed the Swedish Academy’s Nobel presentation speech where they said Dylan “changed our idea of what poetry can be.”
With Dylan not in attendance for the Nobel ceremony, on Monday it was announced that Smith would perform “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” during the Nobel Prize in Literature portion of the gala.
“I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra,” Smith told Rolling Stone. “But after Bob Dylan was announced as the winner and he accepted it, it seemed appropriate to set my own song aside and choose one of his. I chose ‘A Hard Rain’ because it is one of his most beautiful songs. It combines his Rimbaudian mastery of language with a deep understanding of the causes of suffering and ultimately human resilience.
“I have been following him since I was a teenager, half a century to be exact,” Smith added. “His influence has been broad and I owe him a great debt for that. I had not anticipated singing a Bob Dylan song on December 10th, but I am very proud to be doing so and will approach the task with a sense of gratitude for having him as our distant, but present, cultural shepherd.”