Smith opened the performance with a short poem, in which she enumerated the chaos engulfing the world, while still ending on a hopeful note: “Yet I still keep thinking that/Something wonderful is about to happen/Maybe tomorrow/A tomorrow following a whole succession of tomorrows.”
More from Rolling Stone
- See Kesha Perform With Big Freedia, Salute David Bowie on 'Colbert'
- Watch Will Smith Rap His Entire Life History on 'Fallon'
- Trevor Noah Considers Career Options for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
As she brought the verse to a close, musician Tony Shanahan began playing “After the Gold Rush” on keys and Smith proceeded to sing the Young classic in a way that felt simultaneously unhurried yet urgent — a tension best captured in her decision to end the song with the “Look at mother nature on the run” line in an ostensible nod to the climate crisis.
Smith recalled that Dylan appeared backstage during one of her shows circa 1974 and — busting out her best impression of the musician — she recalled, “He says, ‘Hey are there any poets in here?’ And I said, ‘I hate poetry!’ I acted like such a jerk. I don’t know what came over me. Like Sixteen Candles, when you like the boy but you don’t want the boy to know you like them.”
Best of Rolling Stone
- Golden Globes 2020: 20 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments
- Springfield of Dreams: 150 Best 'Simpsons' Episodes
- 50 Best TV Shows of the 2010s
See where your favorite artists and songs rank on the Rolling Stone Charts.