"How do you like my hair cut? I got it done...in Paris."
It was just the right dramatic pause. Not arrogant or entitled, but full of masterly timing that evoked an uproar from the audience. Quintessential Patti.
Since this never-before-published post, I've seen Patti perform again, bought her book, "M Train" and watched her (via video, of course) accept Bob Dylan's Nobel Peace prize for literature (see Spin's write up here.) Why publish this now? I saw a call out on Twitter for artwork or writing on Patti, and thought, what the heck--maybe someone will know what I'm talking about when I describe my appreciation of the Godmother of Punk.
ORIGINAL POSTThe day I bought these tickets, my hands were shaking on my keyboard. Only 10 tickets left for a second added show. Heart pounding, the first set of seats I had clicked on were gone as I tried to check out. Same thing with the 2nd set. Now I was down to 6 tickets. Was the website malfunctioning?
I was panicking. It's not that I hadn't known Patti Smith was coming. I had asked a couple of people, but at $125 a ticket, I didn't pursue it in my usual manner. Then, as I watched this dream of mine start to fall like dry dust through my fingers, I mentioned it to my husband. Could we make this my Christmas present? My eyes started to well up...this might be my only chance to see her.
My voice started to crack as I plead my case. Kman stopped me and said, "I know how much Patti Smith means to you; I read your blog." Well, it's true you know. Here's where I talk about my love of Patti before this: Day 148. Thanks Ray Manzarek. (I've got a great video of Patti singing, "Ain't It Strange" (in Amsterdam) and a drawing of her from one of my Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbooks, "The Last Word Ever Spoken.") Anyway, I got my Christmas present early and it was SO worth it--a dream come true in the form of a ticket.
Patti Smith had swirled around in the consciousness of my life, but it wasn't until I read "Just Kids" in a 2-day gallop back in the beginning of 2011 that I truly fell in love with her music, lyricism, incitefulness, humanity, poetry. I've read it several times since and even tried to get college students in my reading class to read it for extra credit.
There is no way I can express how life-altering that book was to me...how it gave me the courage to plunge further into my creative life...to have someone understand how desperately important it was to be an artist. To accurately describe this strange calling inside that compels you to give up all else in its pursuit. Really, the only other books in my lifetime of reading that have ever touched this internal artistic calling are Irving Stone's, "Lust for Life" and Chaim Potok's, "My Name is Asher Lev." In fact, Patti was in town to accept The Chicago Tribune's Literary Award at Chicago's Humanities Festival the day before. (Click here for more info.)
By the way, if you have the time, and you REALLY should make the time, read this great description of Patti's life and influence by Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot of the eve of that Literary Award.
Chicago Tribune Patti Smith at the Old Town School of Folk Music.