Patti Smith forgets words during Nobel Prize tribute to absent Bob Dylan

The singer performed Dylan's 'A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall' to commemorate the folk singer-songwriter's Nobel Prize for Literature

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 11 December 2016 13:40
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Patti Smith forgets lyrics during Nobel Prize performance as she accepts Bob Dylan's prize, says she's 'so nervous'

But while performing a rendition of Dylan’s iconic song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, Smith became overwhelmed with nerves and perhaps emotion. In turn, she found herself stumbling after a few verses and graciously apologising for her slight slip-up.

The 69-year-old, who is best known for her 1975 album Horses and the hit song "Because the Night", uttered her apologies to the audience and asked if she could start that section of the song again.

“I’m sorry. Could we start that section, I apologise. Sorry, I’m so nervous,” she said, prompting a round of applause from the crowd.

Dylan was absent from the ceremony, previously announcing he would not be travelling to Sweden to collect the prize due to prior arrangements. Despite this, he did write a speech for the special day and it was read aloud by Azita Raji - the US Ambassador to Sweden.

The folk singer-songwriter confessed that he was shocked when he was told he had won a Nobel Prize and he had never pondered whether his songs were considered literature.

“If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon,” he wrote.

“In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn't anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.”

The announcement that Dylan had won the literature prize stirred controversy. Some of his critics argued his lyrics could not be considered literature. Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for having “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

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