Patti Smith: a name I’ve heard as many times in my life as I have strings on my guitar – well, up until last week when I was asked to take part in a charity gig honouring her music with all proceeds going to The Women’s Centre here in Christchurch.
I said yes.
Fuck. What was I thinking? I know nothing about this woman – how can I honour her artistry and her prolific legacy?!
I said yes out of a 50/50 mixture of helping support a struggling women’s charity and pure me-me-me selfishness (how’s that for paradox).
I thought it would be a good challenge for me. Solo Emma – this never happens (cripes on a bike) and I’d get to hang out with a bunch of local musicians I don’t usually get to, all the while throwing coin at a worthy cause. It works!
So, shit, what better way to fast track my appreciation than forcing myself to write a blog post about the woman?
So here is a list of things I don’t know about Patti Smith.
1. She is known as The Godmother of Music
Fuck, that sounds like a pretty big deal. Cue anxiety of doing one of her songs justice. Her 1975 debut album, Horses, is widely considered one of the most influential albums of the New York City punk movement.
2. She is a Singer-Songwriter, Poet, and Visual Artist
Ah, yes. What we call an “over-acheiver” – making the rest of us artists either feel fuckin’ useless, or fuckin’ inspired. I suggest to grab a hold of the latter, like myself.
“I don’t consider writing a quiet, closet act.
I consider it a real physical act.
When I’m home writing on the typewriter, I go crazy.
I move like a monkey.
I’ve wet myself, I’ve come in my pants writing.”
3. She is a social and political activist
Image: Patti Smith in an Iran war protest in 1975 (New York City)
Patti has been a vocal supporter of the US Green Party, was a speaker and singer at the first protests against the Iraq War as George W. Bush spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and has toured in a series of rallies against the Iraq War, and called for the impeachment of George W. Bush (just to name a few).
Girl stands for justice. Dig it.
4. REM, Madonna, Courtney Love, U2, Morrissey and Johnny Marr all state her as their biggest influence.
Ummmmmm…. Me: immediately downloads all of albums to absorb what clearly must be Elixir of Greatness™
So, basically what I didn’t know about Patti Smith is that she is fucking awesome and now I’m very excited about learning her songs and learning things from learning her songs.
I’ve gotta finish this post up here because now I’m gagging to get my guitar out.
If you’re in Christchurch on Thursday 28th July, do come to The Songs and Words of Patti Smith; A Women’s Centre Fundraiser where I will be performing her song, Dancing Barefoot, and making my first foray in to publicly jamming with musicians that aren’t Liam, Dan and Curtis as part of the house band for the night!
All ticket proceeds go to The Women’s Centre in Christchurch – a place for women, run by women offering support, solidarity and resources. It currently faces an uncertain future due to funding cuts and budget shortfalls. In a terrible paradox, funding for mental health and well being providers is at an all time low when need (especially post earthquake) is at an all time high.