CLOTHES CLOTHES CLOTHES MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC BOYS BOYS BOYS
By Viv Albertine, 421 pages. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Viviane Katrina Louise “Viv” Albertine is a British singer and songwriter, best known as the guitarist for the all-female English punk group, The Slits. She dated Mick Jones while he was putting together his new band, The Clash. He later wrote “Train in Vain,” considered to be the band’s biggest hit, about her. Its refrain was a poison dart: “Did you stand by me? No not at all.”
After laying eyes on the cover photo of Patti Smith’s 1975 album “Horses,” taken by Robert Mapplethorpe, Viv writes: “I have never seen a girl who looks like this. She is my soul made visible, all the things I hide deep inside myself that can’t come out.” (Courtesy of the NY Times Book Review section, see related article below).
Patti Smith has become my favorite artist on multiple levels these past few years. I love her immediacy as a person as well as her bohemian artist lifestyle.
Living near New York City as we do has afforded my wife and the opportunity to see Patti Smith perform live several times now. We have also had the fortunate experience to meet Patti Smith at various book signings. She is always gracious to us. I dare to say we feel a kinship with her as fellow children of the sixties.
Her new recording, Banga is intriguing me endlessly. Its only a couple of more days until I can hear all the tracks in flow.I tell myself with baited breath. There are a bakers dozen of new songs with “Just Kids” as the bonus track on the Banga special edition CD.
There is even a unique offer on Patti Smith’s Web site that bundles a lithograph of Patti Smith and the Banga CD. (See image above)
(Thought this was published through my iPhone App yesterday….sigh)
It was our second visit to the Wadsworth Atheneum in three days. We were first there on Friday October 21, 2011 for the opening of the exhibition. We attended a signing by Patti Smith in the Avery Court at 11:00 a.m.
We brought a copy of the exhibition catalog and Patti Smith’s latest CD, Outside Society for Patti to sign. It’s always a friendly interchange with Patti Smith. She signed both the cover and the liner notes for Outside Society as well as the inner pages of the catalog.
Patti Smith was gracious to allow me a photograph of her after she signed.
We couldn’t stay to pursue the exhibition on Friday as we wanted to get to Mohegan Sun to get online to see Stephen Stills at the Wolf Den. (see yesterday’s blog post for that event). We made a pact that we would return to the Wadsworth Atheneum on Sunday.
We love what we learn each time we have a touch point with Patti Smith. Our art tastes have been extended to a whole new plane of thought. Patti Smith is a prism into many forms of art, visual, audio, literature, poetry and now photographic experiences.
The Patti Smith: Camera Solo exhibition was exquisitely curated. There were more than 70 photographs by Patti Smith, displayed along the walls.
There was also interesting physical mementos such as Robert Mapplethorpe‘s slippers and Patti Smith’s father’s Charles Dickens cup she had gotten him in London. You could just see her father savoring his coffee in it 🙂
We especially liked the 7+ minute 16 mm black and white film about Rene Daumal that Patti Smith directed and narrated with her articulate voice adding poetic emotion. This was the first time we had seen the film. It was a visual excursion in Paris that taught us more about the life of a great poet. Jem Cohen did the camera work which was a visual surreal immersion.
My favorite Patti Smith Polaroid photograph was the bed of Virginia Wolf where the sheet forms a raised cross. I found this photograph the most peaceful as it represents the rising of one’s spirit. It fortified today’s homily at mass about how we move to the afterlife at the moment of death.
Book Signing/Reading – October 21, 2011, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
On the opening day of Patti Smith: Camera Solo, the artist will be present for a book signing in Avery Court. Patti Smith will sign one item per person. Per her request, please do not bring a guitar to be signed. You may bring one item to be signed, or purchase the exhibition catalogue from our shop. If you have questions please contact us at (860) 278-2670. Access to Avery Court for the book signing is free with museum admission.
Patti Smith OUTSIDE SOCIETY was released today, August 23, 2011 on Audio CD, Vinyl (2 LPs) and digital bits (Amazon MP3, iTunes AAC, Spotify) . I am savoring with relish Patti Smith‘s landmark collection of 18 personally supervised songs. This stellar chronological collection represents Patti Smith’s entire body of recorded work (released to date) on the Arista and Columbia labels. Each song has been remastered by the team of award-winning engineer Greg Calbi and Patti Smith band member Tony Shanahan.
The collection begins with Track 1, the definitive, energy building, “Gloria” from Horses recorded in 1975.
Patti Smith speaks the opening line over the lilting stride of Richard Sohl‘s piano chord progression.
Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.
That ode has cycled in my head and soul for 36 years. I have gone back and forth in my consciousness trying to interpret what Patti Smith meant by her use of those specific words. Was she saying that since she was born in 1946 A.D. her sins are not accountable due to Jesus’s earlier passing? Or did she mean that Jesus perished for the world’s sins at that time in history?
Just lately I learned more specifically what Patti Smith meant when she recorded the opening line to “Gloria”. I heard her speak from page 247 of her audio book, Just Kids…
Lenny showed me how to play an E and as I struck the note, I spoke the line: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” I had written the line some years before as a declaration of existence, as a vow to take responsibility for my own actions. Christ was a man worthy to rebel against, for He was rebellion itself.*
In the CD liner notes to OUTSIDE SOCIETY Patti reflects…
With respect for Jesus Christ as a great teacher and revolutionary, the opening of “Gloria” was meant to serve as a declaration of existence.
Finally I had the answer from the poetess herself and my heart was put at ease.
I played Horses often on my Sunday radio show on WVOF-FM 88.5. I was given the station copy of Horses by the program director as a holiday present 🙂
I recall vividly the Patti Smith Group appearance on Saturday Night Live, April 17, 1976 where they performed “Gloria” that evening.
*Just Kids. Copyright 2010 by Patti Smith. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y.
In 2011 we face a new era of sweeping changes combatting an even deeper cynicism and intolerance. With Just Kids, her memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti, 64, reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment’s guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory — one that guides us through the present and into the future.
We spent an enjoyable evening with Patti Smith and special friends Wednesday night at the 92nd Street Y on Lexington Avenue in New York City. This event was rescheduled from January 6th which worked out in everyone’s favor, especially when you consider the blizzard we had in January. Last night was almost balmy as we walked around the area finding a restaurant and stopping in Crumbs Bake Shop for an Artie Lange cup cake 😉
This was our second annual event featuring Patti Smith at 92 Y. Last year we saw Patti in a dual reading with her friend, Sam Shepard, thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. (Sam is a playwright, actor, television/ film director, folk singer and short story writer.)
As we found our way to our seat we were handed a blank 3×5 index card to ask Patti Smith a question for Q&A. I came up with a question, jotted it down and handed it to the usher just before Patti Smith made her entrance.
Patti Smith was delightful as her improvisational and comedic selves were in harmony. She started the evening with the song I was hearing in my head,”My Blakean Year” which aptly portrays her poetic soul. Patti then switched to readings from Just Kids, which recently won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. I really love when she shares Robert Mapplethorpe and the time they spent together at the Chelsea Hotel. They have a beautiful, eternal friendship.
Patti then introduced Lenny Kaye through a passage of her book. Lenny Kaye has played 40 years with her as a member of The Patti Smith Group. Patti paid tribute to the late actress Maria Schneider by performing with Lenny a poignant, engaging version of “Redondo Beach” from Horses.
She then switched back to readings from her book, interspersing her poems, injecting fun with impromptu asides with the audience. She read another passage from Just Kids, which set the stage to introduce Sam Shepard who was a surprise guest. Sam played guitar with Patti and Lenny, as we saw Sam Shepard the folkie emerge.
Our favorite part of the evening was when Patti recalled that she had to do Q&A. Lenny Kaye took the question cards out of the front pocket flap of his sport coat. Much to our joy Lenny Kaye soon read our question. Lenny said, “Patti, this question is from Ed & Rosemary Jennings, who write, “What are your sentiments about Saint Francis of Assisi?” The audience chuckled at what seemed a random and obscure question. I had asked it purposely because I had read that Patti Smith’s next record will have a song about Saint Francis of Assisi.We love to know what influences artists to write and record their songs. Patti said that this was another commercial announcement (she lovingly promoted her friend and photographer Judy Linn’s book several times that evening.) Patti cautioned the audience that this was an important question as she graciously spoke about Saint Francis’s warm way with matter of the heart making significant contributions as an environmentalist and animal activist. Patti was fair in saying that people of various faiths have come to respect Saint Francis’s contribution to the planet over the centuries. We smiled at Patti’s answer as devout Catholics, who hold the saints of the church in high esteem.
A person in the audience then asked Patti, “When will the record be coming out?”. She shot right back at them, “When it’s ready.”
The music performed was a combination of poetry, as well as early influences. We especially liked the rendition of the first song Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye collaborated on in 1971, “Fire of Unknown Origin”.
My favorite moment was when Patti couldn’t find the eclectic passage in the book about her first meeting with Allen Ginsberg at the Horn and Hardart Automat. A fan finally yelled out, page 122. Patti replied. “You’re the best.” I love the beat generation and poet connection between Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg. I had the rare privilege of meeting Allen Ginsberg in 1973 at the University of New Haven. I sat next to him at a press conference before he performed “Howl” in our campus entertainment room. As Patty points out in her book, “I looked into those intense dark eyes punctuated by his dark curly beard…”. That image Patti described is just how I recalled Allen Ginsberg as I watched him answer questions posed by local reporters in the student conference room.
Here is a color handbill of a memorial tribute to Allen Ginsberg held in Ann Arbor, Michigan that we keep in our home office 🙂
The evening was capped off by Patti Smith, Sam Shepard, Lenny Kaye and the audience, singing and clapping to “People Have The Power“. Patti dedicated it to freedom and Egypt.
OUR SOUL IN CAIRO
Brothers and Sisters
we are with you
The People have the Power
To redeem the work of fools
Upon the united
the graces shower
It’s decreed the
We then got online to have Patti Smith sign Just Kids in paperback and the new Judy Linn photography book, that Judy Linn also signed for us. We were privileged to get the book before its March 1st general availability date. Great keepsakes for a beautiful evening of literary musical expression.
We thanked Patti for answering our question and she said to us, “I hope you’ll like the song when you hear it.” We have a feeling we will, Patti 🙂
My wife and I attended the Patti Smith concert at The Metropolitan Museum of Art(The MET) on Saturday October 17th, 2009. It was an evening of pure enchantment.
I wanted to share with you some of the images from our day at The MET. As time and schedule allows I will update this blog post with further thoughts, observations from this day of connecting with Robert Frank, Black & White, The Americans Exhibit, Patti Smith, the music, the poetry and a Robert Frank film we also attended, Me and My Brother.
One thing I learned actively about yesterday was contrast, how Robert Frank uses that technique in his photography. When Patti mentioned she had dressed in black & white for the occasion I flashed on the contrast below.
Americans 79 Chicago 1956
I was hearing the song Gloria whilst I found my way to my seat in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium for the concert. What really struck me was that I had just seen earlier in the exhibit on the second floor, the picture of this car with the saying in the back window, “Christ Died For Our Sins”. I immediately flashed on the contrast as I heard, playing in my head, the line Patti sings in Gloria, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”. It all seemed to fit together so perfectly after that, Patti Smith, Robert Frank’s photograph, contrast, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photograph of Patti, Catholicism and my love of music 🙂