How Does it Feel : Patti Smith

  PHOTOGRAPH BY PHILIP MONTGOMERY / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX

PHOTOGRAPH BY PHILIP MONTGOMERY / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX

By now, we all know the story of Patti Smith faltering during Dylan's Nobel Price ceremony.

Beautiful. In spite of and perhaps even more so because of the such obvious failure.  In an interview with the New Yorker Patti Smith shared that she "conflicting emotions." "In his absence," she asked herself, "was I qualified for the task?" She didn't want to displease Bob Dylan. But she committed herself to it and decided to sing 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, a song she "'loved since {she} was a teen-ager, a favorite of {her} late husband."

Then she fell, and fell hard. When she took her seat, she "felt the humiliating sting of failure, but also the strong realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived the world of the lyrics."

When I arose the next morning, it was snowing. In the breakfast room, I was greeted by many of the Nobel scientists. They showed appreciation for my very public struggle. They told me I did a good job. I wish I would have done better, I said. No, no, they replied, none of us wish that. For us, your performance seemed a metaphor for our own struggles. Words of kindness continued through the day, and in the end I had to come to terms with the truer nature of my duty. Why do we commit our work? Why do we perform? It is above all for the entertainment and transformation of the people. It is all for them. The song asked for nothing. The creator of the song asked for nothing. So why should I ask for anything?
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. The year is coming to an end; on December 30th, I will perform “Horses” with my band, and my son and daughter, in the city where I was born. And all the things I have seen and experienced and remember will be within me, and the remorse I had felt so heavily will joyfully meld with all other moments. Seventy years of moments, seventy years of being human.

A metaphor for our own struggles - of being human. And beautiful.

You can read the full lyrics here.

And watch Dylan sing it here.