Patti Smith states when she stumbled over the lyrics of a Bob Dylan tune during the Nobel Prize ceremony last week, it had been because she had been inundated with nerves by the enormity of this experience, not because she forgot the words to some Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.
Smith writes in a article published Wednesday from the New Yorker that after loving the song because she was a teenager and rehearsing it incessantly in the months and days leading up to the ceremony, its lyrics “were a part of me.”
“I hadn’t forgotten the words which were now part of me,” she writes. “I was only unable to draw them out.”
The singer-songwriter clarifies that she had picked one of her own songs when she was encouraged in September to play at the Nobel ceremony in honor of the eventual literature laureate. But when Dylan was declared as the receiver, she picked one of her longtime favorites from his catalogue.
Smith writes that on the morning of the ceremony, “I thought of my mom, who bought me my first Dylan album when I was barely sixteen.”
“It occurred to me then , although I didn’t reside in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I was at the time of Bob Dylan,” Smith writes. “I also thought of my husband recalled performing the song together, imagining his palms forming the chords”
Smith suddenly stopped singing throughout her performance at Stockholm’s Concert Hall on Dec. 10 and requested the orchestra to begin again. “I apologize. I’m sorry, I’m so nervous,” Smith said at the time.
In her candid, poetic piece printed Wednesday, she states guests at the service received her kindly and advised her that her operation “appeared a metaphor for our own struggles.” She says the experience made her “come to terms with the truer nature of my obligation.”
“Why do we commit our job? Why do we perform?” She writes. “It is above all for the amusement and transformation of these people. It’s all for them. The tune requested for nothing. Nothing was asked for by the creator of the song. So why should I request anything?”