Dec 10, 2016: ‘Nervous’ Patti Smith at Bob Dylan’s Nobel Ceremony

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“I apologize… Sorry, I’m so nervous.” And with that, the crowd gathered in Stockholm erupted into applause, as they were quick to forgive rock poetess Patti Smith who was standing in for pal Bob Dylan at his Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10, 2016. Smith chose a challenging song to represent the Dylan canon: “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

Smith, dressed in an elegant blank suit, was accompanied by a small orchestra for her performance.

On December 5, the punk poet revealed on her Facebook page that she was actually asked to perform at the ceremony before the announcement was made that Dylan would receive the prize. (See below.)

Smith’s stumble is just past the two-minute mark.

For the record, Smith faltered again at around the 4:10 mark.

Related: Not surprisingly, Dylan’s in absentia speech was amazing

Smith’s statement on her Facebook page: “In September while attending the opening of my photographic exhibition at the Stockholm House of Culture, I was approached by a member of the Nobel Committee to sing at the ceremony.

At that time the laureates were not announced and I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra. But after Bob Dylan was announced as the winner and he accepted, 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. 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 10, 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.”


Dylan had informed the Swedish Academy—which hands out the prize—that he had a previous commitment and wouldn’t be in Stockholm to receive the award.

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