Patti Smith has spoken about her performance at Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize ceremony.
Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this month, supplying a carefully prepared speech that was read on his behalf.
Patti Smith performed at the ceremony, yet stumbled over the words to 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'.
Writing for the New Yorker, the singer has mused on the performance, the song itself, and the impact Bob Dylan has had on her life.
Agreeing to perform without knowing who the recipient would be, news that Bob Dylan had won the prize completely changed her preparations.
"When it was announced that Bob Dylan had won the prize and accepted, it seemed no longer fitting for me to sing my own song. I found myself in an unanticipated situation, and had conflicting emotions. In his absence, was I qualified for this task? Would this displease Bob Dylan, whom I would never desire to displease?"
Patti Smith chose 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' as it was one of the first Dylan tracks she truly fell for, after her mother purchased the record on her behalf.
"It occurred to me then that, although I did not live in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I existed in the time of Bob Dylan. I also thought of my husband and remembered performing the song together, picturing his hands forming the chords."
The magnitude of the occasion seemed to un-nerve the singer, though: "I felt my heart pounding. After a moving speech dedicated to him was read, I heard my name spoken and I rose. As if in a fairy tale, I stood before the Swedish King and Queen and some of the great minds of the world, armed with a song in which every line encoded the experience and resilience of the poet who penned them."
She added: "I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them. From the corner of my eye, I could see the the huge boom stand of the television camera, and all the dignitaries upon the stage and the people beyond. Unaccustomed to such an overwhelming case of nerves, I was unable to continue. I hadn’t forgotten the words that were now a part of me. I was simply unable to draw them out."
Approaching her 70th birthday later this year, Patti Smith draws on the deeper meanings of both the song and her own performance. "When my husband, Fred, died, my father told me that time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them. I have found this to be true in the greatest and smallest of matters. Looking to the future, I am certain that the hard rain will not cease falling, and that we will all need to be vigilant."
A wonderful piece of writing, you can find it HERE.