Patti Smith had a hard time singing one of Bob Dylan’s most recognizable songs. Smith, 60, stumbled over the words to Dylan’s 1963 classic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” while performing at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden over the weekend. Bob Dylan was not in attendance at the ceremony, which celebrated the fact that he was the first musician in history to ever win the Nobel literature award.
USA Today posted a video of Patti Smith’s faux pas as she blanked out while attempting to sing the second verse of one of Dylan’s most famous songs. Patti Smith promptly apologized to the audience after she failed to remember the words to the song. Patti also addressed the orchestra and asked if they could start the section over. The audience clapped for Patti Smith after she explained that she was nervous.
“I apologize,” Smith said after she stumbled over the lyrics. “I’m sorry, Could we start that? I’m so nervous.”
Patti Smith also briefly faltered during the third verse of the song, but she finished the performance on a classy and emotional note. You can see Patti Smith as she forgets the lyrics to “A Hard Rain’s A-Comin'” at the 2:10 mark in the video below.
Patti Smith had originally planned to perform one of her own songs at the Nobel Prize gala, but she changed her tune after Dylan was announced as the winner.
“I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra,” Patti 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 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.”
Like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith is a singer a renowned poet, and they two are longtime friends and collaborators. While Bob was a no-show for his big Nobel Prize night due to previous commitments, Smith accepted the award for him, returning a favor from two decades ago when he helped pull her out of a career slump.
In an interview posted on the blog site Alternatives to Valium, Patti Smith recounted her long friendship with Dylan, who contacted her in 1995 to do a series of East Coast tour dates. Smith revealed she was also nervous at that time, but she had a support system in place.
“It was my first tour in 16 years,” Patti said. “We had my band, and Michael Stipe came with us to give us some moral support because I hadn’t performed in so long I was a bit nervous. But Bob and I also had a mutual friend in Allen Ginsberg, who also encouraged me to go out to the world and get strong and receive the people’s energy, because I was at a very low point in my life. ”
Patti Smith said she later thanked Bob for encouraging her to get back on stage. Smith also said that being given the opportunity to sing the then-obscure song “Dark Eyes” with Dylan was one of “the greatest experiences” of her life.
Two Legends. #NP Bob Dylan >> Patti Smith
— BBC Radio 6 Music (@BBC6Music) December 11, 2016
Smith revealed that she first saw Dylan as a fan when he performed with Joan Baez in 1963. Patti said she has been to countless Dylan shows over the past 50 years. Smith also credited the music legend for changing things up in his shows.
“He’ll take a song, and in the same week, he’ll do it two or three different ways, because he’s highly creative and always restless,” Patti dished. “He doesn’t like the repetition of his own things. He often changes them up or finds a different way to present them.”
[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]