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July 20, 2015



Even though I'm a fan of Patti Smith I wouldn't consider myself a super hardcore fan. I do however, understand your previous perspective, but I have to say…'a messier version of Meatloaf'? Oof! That's a low blow. If anything I always thought she was a slightly dirtier female version of Bruce Springsteen. It's no surprise to me that her biggest pop hit was 'Because the Night' penned by The Boss himself. I'll agree that her music was never really Ramones/Clash punk and I was never comfortable with hearing her described as a 'punk rocker' or more popularly as 'punk poetess', but I guess punk in its earliest form was just as much about attitude as it was about the sound of the music. Talking Heads didn't really sound punk either. I always appreciated that Patti was delivered to the public as a punk artist even though you could see her history as a straight up New York City poet/bohemian clearly lurking in the background. I bought 'Easter' probably 20 years ago, and I always thought it was a pretty unique record. '25th Floor', 'Space Monkey'…great songs. 'Just Kids' I agree was an excellent book, especially reading it these days when that world of New York is just a distant, distant memory. People could actually come here with nothing but their artistic aspirations and actually do something amazing. What a shame that things in 21st century NYC have gone in the directions they've gone to.

Rick McGinnis

I have to admit that I was, for the longest time, in the same boat. There was something about the fervent adoration that Patti Smith's fans had for her that put off the young punk that was me, and I carried that around with me for years. It's not like I hated her music, but that its inability to inspire the same rabid devotion made me spiteful in my reaction to said fandom whenever I met it.

Cut to the mid '90s, and Patti Smith's return from retirement and the Dream of Life record, which was still unreleased when she passed through Toronto on a tour. The publisher of the free weekly I worked for was a huge fan and I was asked to photograph her for the cover, in his hotel room during NXNE. I frankly dreaded the assignment, steeling myself for a NY Rock Diva, full of attitude and weirdness. I set up my lights with a knot in my stomach, expecting the worst.

What walked through the hotel room door was one of the nicest, most generous people I have ever worked with. She was sweet and humble and very interested in what I wanted to do. "What's your inspiration for this photo," she asked, and I explained that I was really into early photography and the Pictorialists lately, people like Nadar.

"Julia Margaret Cameron and that sort of thing?" Patti asked?

Yeah, exactly.

"OK. OK. You get it. That's great. You'll get more than I usually give out to photographers. I love all that kind of stuff. Fantastic. Let's shoot."

I was stunned. The shoot went marvelously, and a few weeks later I got a call from Patti asking if she could use one of the shots for a publicity still while she waited to set up a session with Bruce Weber for her album cover. One of the shots also ended up on a t-shirt she had made up for a Central Park concert.

So yeah. My bad attitude toward Patti Smith had more to do with me than her, in the end. I've gotten to like Horses and Radio Ethiopia and even "Because the Night," despite the whole Springsteen thing. But yeah - "Redondo Beach." Whatever.


URLBrenner said:
'a messier version of Meatloaf'? Oof! That's a low blow. If anything I always thought she was a slightly dirtier female version of Bruce Springsteen.

I've always thought Meatloaf was a messier (and crappier) version of Springsteen.

Patti has always had a lifetime pass from me for Gloria (that opening is as perfect and pure as music gets), and for Break It Up. Like mainlining RnR.

Dave DiRoma

Not to be repetitive but I never really "got" Patti Smith. The singing, the songs - nothing resonated. Shortly after "Just Kids" came out, one of my co-workers recommended it as I was leaving for a trip to the west coast. Faced with a boring 6 hour flight, I took the book and was captivated by the story. Subsequently, I've read some other biographical information and have to admit my original impressions of her were completely wrong. Much more human, grounded and approachable than any of the NY punk stars of that era that I recall. I STILL don't get the music but I very much respect her as a person and an artist.



Thanks for FINALLY comin' around.

Gaylord Perry

Teenage Perversity & Ships In The Night is one of the GREAT Rock bootleg LPs.


Nobody ever said she was a horrible person. But her work, well-intentioned as it may always have been, has always been bad art. Duchamp said even bad art is art, so there is that. She's just kind of pretentious and boring as far as the music and poetry goes. Just Kids is a different form, maybe it's where she's belonged. I'm sure she's a lovely person, who has suffered her share of tragedy. That's a different topic. It's hard to keep the person separate from the art, but ya gotta do it. There are complete jerks who make good stuff. So it goes.


I agree with Dark Ip.

In theory I should loved Patti Smiths's work at the time, because I really liked her look and the idea of a strong but sensitive female bohemian New Yorker...But my ears told me different.

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