Bob Dylan, this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature honoree, will not attend the December 10th gala in Stockholm, but his music will still be performed. On Monday, Nobel organizers announced that Rock Hall singer-songwriter Patti Smith, who was previously set to perform her own song, will cover Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the ceremony.
The Nobel Prize committee announced Monday morning that Smith would fill in for Dylan at the Stockholm gala, with Smith also taking part in the Nobel Week Dialogue event the day before on December 9th, where she’ll discuss the “importance of role models.”
While Dylan won’t attend the Nobel ceremony due to “other commitments” that “make it unfortunately impossible,” the Nobel committee tweeted Monday that Dylan has “provided a speech which will be read at the Nobel banquet” on December 10th; organizers tell Rolling Stone that they do not know who will read the “speech of thanks” at the gala as of press time. A rep for the event declined to comment further.
Smith tells Rolling Stone that organizers approached her in September to sing at the ceremony, prior to the announcement of this year’s award recipients. “I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra,” Smith tells Rolling Stone. “But after Bob Dylan was announced as the winner and he accepted it, It seemed appropriate to set my own song aside and choose one of his. I chose ‘A Hard Rain’ because it is one of his most beautiful songs. It combines his Rimbaudian mastery of language with a deep understanding of the causes of suffering and ultimately human resilience.
“I have been following him since I was a teenager, half a century to be exact,” Smith adds. “His influence has been broad and I owe him a great debt for that. I had not anticipated singing a Bob Dylan song on December 10th, but I am very proud to be doing so and will approach the task with a sense of gratitude for having him as our distant, but present, cultural shepherd.”
After Dylan announced that he could not receive the Nobel honor in person, the Swedish Academy said in a statement that they have “decided not to organize an alternative plan for the Nobel Lecture traditionally held on December 7th. There is a chance that Bob Dylan will be performing in Stockholm next year, possibly in the spring, in which case he will have a perfect opportunity to deliver his lecture.”
Each Nobel laureate is required to deliver a speech “on a subject connected with the work for which the prize has been awarded.” “We are looking forward to Bob Dylan’s Nobel lecture, which he must hold, according to the requirements, within six months [from December 10th],” the Swedish Academy said at the time. It’s unclear whether the Dylan-penned gala speech fulfills that requirement.
Nobel spokeswoman Annika Pontikis said that Dylan’s Nobel diploma and medal will be handed over at a later date that hasn’t been determined yet.
After not initially acknowledging the Nobel distinction, which drew the ire of some Swedish Academy members, Dylan finally said of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless. I appreciate the honor so much.”
Citing “other commitments,” Bob Dylan says he won’t be attending the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm to accept his literature prize. Watch here.