Critic’s Notebook : Patti Smith

Patti Smith performing at Bowery Ballroom, New...

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This notion, of a life consecrated to art, has become the stuff of cliché as we increasingly allow our dreams to be commodified: Where are the new bohemias, the new Williamsburgs or Echo Parks?

Patti Smith shines between art’s boundaries –

Just Kids,” which won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday night, is a reminder that Patti Smith has always had more than making records on her mind. Such a sensibility has defined her work since her debut album “Horses” came out in 1975, with its inexplicable mix of the garage and the atelier.

Indeed, her initial foray into music came at her first reading, in February 1971. “I did it for poetry,” she writes in “Just Kids.” “I did it for Rimbaud, and I did it for Gregory [Corso]. I wanted to infuse the written word with the immediacy and frontal attack of rock and roll.”

If “Just Kids” has a message, however, it’s that bohemia exists within us, that the only imperative of the artist is to create. Halfway through the book, Smith recalls a conversation with Corso, who, during a visit to the loft she shared with Mapplethorpe, noticed a crucifix embellished with the phrase memento mori.


7 thoughts on “Critic’s Notebook : Patti Smith

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