Patti Smith- Birdland
I could probably write 10,000 words about this song if people would read it, but for now I’m just going to say it’s a beautiful hypnotic epic that manages to be completely engrossing and emotionally moving even when you don’t have any idea what the fuck it’s about. And once you actually do figure it out (mostly, kinda-sorta) and do the research, its lyrical depth becomes even more astounding. AND THEN you find out that it was done as a complete improv and you realize Patti Smith could be the best artist on the planet.
So yeah, I’m hoping she plays this (and/or Piss Factory, which is the other Patti song I could write a million things about) tomorrow at the Tibet House Benefit even if it’s a total long shot.
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auditorylove asked: Here's a loaded question: what would you pick for your ten "desert island discs?"
Hmm, this is hard but actually not as hard as I thought it would be. They’re not in order because trying to figure that one out would probably give me a brain aneurysm.
Runners-up include: Patti Smith, Horses; Alanis Morissette, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (which used to be my 3rd favorite album ever, but which has tumbled in rankings as I’ve gotten older even though I still love it); PJ Harvey- Is This Desire?; Radiohead- The Bends; Emmylou Harris- Wrecking Ball
It’s kinda weird that 7 of these albums are from the 90’s and the most recent album came out in 2000, since I do listen to a lot that isn’t from that relatively small time period. The most recent album to even come close to making it was Ys by Joanna Newsom, and only Joni Michell’s Blue and Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks were even close to getting on the list as far as pre-1980’s albums go.
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But long before Morrissey was a pop star, he was a practiced and accomplished fan, and it’s this discernment and familiarity that make his later (Patti) Smith tributes a more reasonable fist. The two have much in common in their reference set, most clearly their poetic sensibility – Rimbaud and Ginsberg feature heavily – and in their vocal style. When, in 2005, Morrissey released Smith cover, ‘Redondo Beach’, as a double A-side (B/W ‘There Is A Light that Never Goes Out’) to promote Live At Earl’s Court, what’s odd – if one looks past the arrangement – is how comfortably Morrissey’s phrasing nestles into Smith’s melody. There’s less than expected to choose between Morrissey’s lilt and croon and Smith’s more ragged vocal style.
Umm…how did I not know a Morrissey cover of Redondo Beach existed until now? It works surprisingly well, and although it’s (of course) not as good as the original, Morrissey’s vocal is much more accessible than Patti’s, which draws your attention to the song’s lyrics more fully.
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If we were out of money we just didn’t eat. Robert might be able to function, even if he got a little shaky, but I would feel like I was going to pass out. One drizzly afternoon I had a hankering for one of those cheese-and-lettuce sandwiches. I went through our belongings and found exactly fifty-five cents, slipped on my gray trench coat and Mayakovsky cap, and headed to the Automat.
I got my tray and slipped in my coins but the window wouldn’t open. I tried again without luck and then I noticed the price had gone up to sixty-five cents. I was disappointed, to say the least, when I heard a voice say, “Can I help?”
I turned around and it was Allen Ginsberg. We had never met but there was no mistaking the face of one of our great poets and activists. I looked into those intense dark eyes punctuated by his dark curly beard and just nodded. Allen added the extra dime and also stood me to a cup of coffee. I wordlessly followed him to his table, and then plowed into the sandwich.
Allen introduced himself. He was talking about Walt Whitman and I mentioned I was raised near Camden, where Whitman was buried, when he leaned forward and looked at me intently. “Are you a girl?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Is that a problem?”
He just laughed. “I’m sorry, I took you for a very pretty boy.”
I got the picture immediately.
“Well, does this mean I return the sandwich?”
“No, enjoy it. It was my mistake.”
He told me he was writing a long elegy for Jack Kerouac, who had recently passed away. “Three days after Rimbaud’s birthday,” I said. I shook his hand and we parted company.
Sometime later Allen became my good friend and teacher. We often reminisced about our first encounter and he once asked how I would describe how we met. “I would say you fed me when I was hungry,” I told him. And he did.
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Patti Smith’s commencement speech at Pratt.
I really wish NYU had gotten Patti Smith to speak at graduation instead of Alec Baldwin. Her speech manages to be funny, inspiring, and heartfelt, 3 things Baldwin’s speech was not. Her Pinocchio analogy is certainly an apt one for some aspects of the college experience, and she manages to name-drop without coming off as pretentious or show-offy.
And to top it all off, they got a mini-concert as well. Lucky bitches.