Saturday, November 27, 2010

Patti's Myth

I've been reading the Patti Smith memoir, Just Kids, about her coming of age with Robert Mapplethorpe in the 60's and 70's in New York. It's a fascinating peek into the desires and motivations of young artists, leaving home and coming to the city, living hand to mouth, sacrificing all for their work, all in the hopes of making it, becoming famous.

But some of it seems a little far-fetched, too casual in its name-dropping, too highly coincidental that she is in so many places at just the right time, and just happens to meet the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Sheppard, etc, etc. And so I read the memoir as somewhat mythic, and that is OK.

Still, that aside, it is a wonderful read, in part, I think, because she writes like a poet. And it has driven me back to listen to all my Patti Smith albums again, and to go online to find recordings and videos on YouTube. She was the ultimate punk/rock poetess, and as a teenager I wanted to *be* like her--it's part of what made me want to write poems!

Here is a recent video of her reciting a few lines, then singing "Dancing Barefoot" live:

And here is another great find, a cover of her singing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teens Spirit." I think she and Curt would have found a soul mate in each other. This is an amazing cover, it's as if the song was written for her:

And for good measure: a 1976 live performance of "Land" from Horses, followed by a eerie cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe."


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