Sunday, December 26, 2010

PATTI SMITH LIVE across two of her decades

Patti Smith Group beckoned as a must to be photographed in those proto-punk morphing into punk halcyon days (or rather nights.) The evening I could, her debut album "Horses" producer/mentor John Cale joined her onstage in this impressive lineup from 1976, left to right: Cale, co-songwriter Ivan Kral, Smith and (hero to every rock scribe who ever dreamt, Walter Mitty-style, of making the leap to rock star) Lenny Kaye (who did just that.*)
Above, I was pleased to shoot her genuine happiness at the audience warmly welcoming her mid-90s return to onstage performance after a long hiatus. This and the shot below were from the 1995 Long Beach, Calif. festival "When Words Collide" wherein Smith read her poetry and performed with, among others, her son Jackson, then sufficiently teenaged to get off on riffing "Smoke On The Water."
The last photo was taken in Long Beach as she was making some tech adjustment for her song co-written with Ivan Kral "Dancing Barefoot," whereupon I posited that her gauzy, backlit silhouetted profile matched the dreaminess within the myriad components of this song, one of her most complex lyrically yet most accessible musically.

Her 2010 book "Just Kids" about personal incubation into poet/performer via her teen and beyond friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe rightly has been acclaimed as the now mature work it represents. She's learned to bridge the chasm between her world and the rest of the universe in far easier to fathom self-edited bytes as well as manifestos, taming the subjective into fascinating narrative. It's an altogether terrific read. Then again she's always fashioned her art from being brave.

*for the record yours truly has never entertained any Walter Mitty fantasies of rock stardom or what have you, whatsoever anywho. I love what I do when I'm allowed to do it.

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