Style and Substance and Stubbornness and STRAIGHT UP ROCK AND ROLL (and poems, always poems, and performance, and love, and all of that, and an uncanny and uncommon capacity to forgive and transform herself, her friends, her fans, her language of origin, her history, her loves, her family, the very definition of family, her place in the world both as a would-be-art-student kicking around Fort Greene Brooklyn during the rough-n-tumble years when one would go to classes at Pratt and then scurry away but Patti? OH NO SHE DID NOT.
Instead she and best friend/soul mate/collaborator/and true love (an unusual kind of love but a lasting brave transformative one ) Robert Mapplethorpe stuck it out in a leaking, all-but-condemned building where they made shrines to Love and classical poets, drew until their hands hurt, told stories, wrote music, made mischief and set things in motion for the eventual flights elsewhere (but never too far from each other, and certainly not too far from love).
Patti sometimes talks a little before her concerts (because so what if yes she’s a mama and been married and loved and lost and is well over the age she broke everyone’s hearts first with HORSES – life changing, ever so, and onward: she’s still performing and kicking to dust any rueful remarks that after a certain age, you really just shouldn’t…).
One of our friends saw her last year and reported back this: that Patti said something to the effect of she got into music because it was a way to connect further to love (and to the world! and to revolution! and all that wonder!) in a way that words could only do to a point –
because all the poems in the world are lonely little boats
waiting to be launched without a sea
of feeling or an ocean
of possibility and both of those things require
and the righteous backing of a most excellent band of fellow curious comrades…
and maybe too, maybe (we hope so, and in JUST KIDS she says as much…), the ‘magical’ inclusion of some self-invented style (a white shirt, skinny black pants, stompable boots, a wry smile…). So earnest it might be read as a sneer but listen a little more (turn up GLORIA on Spotify or whatever form you can find it right now) and just…be wowed with all this wonder. Patti was, and is. Also, she’s from Jersey (like the Pagliei sisters and a whole slew of our friends/fans at WP), and she’s tough, and gorgeous, and brilliant (and everything we hope to someday be.. as much as she has pulled off).
And humble. And how. Here is a little gift for the tried-n-true, and new, Patti Smith fans: http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/patti-smith-advice-young