Patti Smith performs for Bob Dylan at Nobel Prize award ceremony

Swedish body calls the beauty of Dylan’s songs “of the highest rank.”

The Nobel Prize ceremony took place today in Stockholm and Bob Dylan, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, did not attend. In his place Patti Smith performed his song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” The ceremony was broadcast live on YouTube with the award of Dylan’s prize at the 56 minute mark and Smith’s performance at 63 minutes.

Smith, who toured with Dylan in 1995, was accompanied by an orchestra for the performance and apologized to the audience for being nervous when she had to repeat a line.

Bob Dylan’s prize was introduced by Professor Horace Engdahl who called the award a revolution. “But does he get the prize for upsetting the system of literature? Not really. There is a simpler explanation … Chamfort made the observation that when a master such as La Fontaine appears, the hierarchy of genres … is nullified. “What matter the rank of a work when its beauty is of the highest rank?” he wrote. That is the straight answer to the question of how Bob Dylan belongs in literature: as the beauty of his songs is of the highest rank.” [Via Pitchfork]

The ceremony follows months of back and forth between Dylan and the Nobel Committee after the singer was seen as ignoring his nomination. He eventually acknowledged the win, saying he was speechless at the move, and finally said he had other commitments that would prevent him from attending the ceremony.