Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

Patti Smith Forgot Bob Dylan Lyrics at Nobel Prize Ceremony — but it Worked in Her Favor

(JTA) — Punk-rock singer Patti Smith was so nervous when performing a Bob Dylan song at the Nobel Prize ceremony that she forgot the lyrics to one of his songs.

She was accepting the award for literature on behalf of the Jewish singer, who said he could not attend the ceremony on Saturday in Stockholm, but during a performance of Dylan’s song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” she stumbled over the words to the second verse.

Instead of ignoring her mistake, she addressed the audience directly. “I apologize, sorry, I’m so nervous,” said Smith, eliciting loud applause. Per her request, the orchestra started the song from the beginning, and the show went on.

The incident offered a rare moment of humanity in the otherwise well-choreographed ceremony, which was attended by the Swedish royal family.

The organizers of the ceremony — reportedly miffed that Dylan skipped the festivities — seemed overjoyed with Smith’s performance, noting that she received a standing ovation in a post on Facebook.

Watch the performance here:

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.