December 10, 2016
and what’ll you do now, my darling young one
In the online edition of The New Yorker, Amanda Petrusich wrote a schmaltzy, but wonderful piece about Patti Smith’s performance at the 2016 Nobel Prize ceremony. My favorite paragraph …
Smith was accompanied by the Philharmonic performing a spare and gentle arrangement of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” orchestrated by Hans Ek, a Swedish conductor. She looked so striking: elegant and calm in a navy blazer and a white collared shirt, her long, silver hair hanging in loose waves, hugging her cheekbones. I started crying almost immediately. She forgot the words to the second verse—or at least became too overwhelmed to voice them—and asked to begin the section again. I cried more. “I’m sorry, I’m so nervous,” Smith admitted. The orchestra obliged. The entire performance felt like a fierce and instantaneous corrective to “times like these”—a reiteration of the deep, overwhelming, and practical utility of art to combat pain. In that moment, the mission of the Nobel transcended any of its individual recipients.2
Smith is priestess, chanting an anthem, to a generation that lost its soul on November 8. She is troubadour and in the last verse, she rejects the alt-right’s silencing of democracy; and with fists clenched, she insists, she will – tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it. Her Druid voice makes Dylan’s words a clarion call.
1 A defiant and nervous Patti Smith performing A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall at the Nobel ceremony. (The above image is a still from the video.)
2 Amanda Petrusich writing in The New Yorker – A Transcendent Patti Smith Accepts Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize