“He gave me the opportunity to choose any song from his catalog and we could do it together,” Smith said. “So I looked through his lyric book, and I realized what a profound opportunity this was. This was somebody that I had adored and admired since I was 15 years old, giving me the opportunity to sing any one of his songs with him. So I chose ‘Dark Eyes,’ and Bob and I sang it for the next several days.”
The tour came at a very difficult time for Smith. Her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5, passed away the previous year and she was just returning to the road after a 17-year break. “I truthfully wasn’t certain how I would be received, or what I should do,” Smith said. “And being encouraged by him was very important to me.”
Nearly every night, Smith came out near the end of Dylan’s set for a tender duet on “Dark Eyes,” a 1985 obscurity that he’d only played a single time before. “For me, that was a timeless experience,” Smith said. “I really felt an extreme amount of dignity and happiness singing with him. I allowed myself to think about how important he’s been to me, and what a hero, and to glean a certain amount of joy.”
Here’s their performance of “Dark Eyes” from the Beacon Theatre. Dylan returns there for a five-show run beginning in late November, but don’t expect a repeat performance. These days he sticks to a pretty tight setlist and guest performers are extremely rare.