A Hard Memory’s A-Gonna Fall

When I watched Patti Smith perform Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm, I was transported back to my childhood. Not to relive the memory of hearing Dylan’s masterpiece for the first time or remembering the goosebumps that always appeared when Because the Night was played on FM radio. It was to a moment when I too had been on stage at an auditorium only to have my mind go completely blank midway through a performance.

It happened when I was at my most vulnerable — in my mid-teens in front of all my family, classmates, friends, and peers. What’s worse is that it was while I performed Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy during a piano recital/competition — a title that drew laughter from all my friends who at the time were moving from Led Zeppelin to the Clash.

Forty years later, just when I had almost recovered from the deep psychological scars that have haunted me all my life, I watched Patti Smith experience the same humiliation. As a seasoned professional, Patti Smith handled the situation with great dignity, as an insecure teenager, I experienced life-long anxiety that appeared every time I spoke or performed in front of an audience. As a professional musician and then as a teacher, this was a daily occurrence.

Unfortunately, I cannot go back in time and edit my performance into a single seamless rendition without a one-minute intermission containing an apology for nerves. However, thanks to the marvel of digital video editing, I can with Patti Smith’s performance.

Please enjoy an edited version of Patti Smith performing Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.