11 April, 2016

Book: Patti Smith Just Kids

Book: Patti Smith Just Kids
Letter from NYC (50) 2016 (6): True Rapture

Patti Smith wiki entry

I chanced upon Patti Smith's newest book M Train in the Flushing Library. I browsed through it and liked it very much, thereby deciding to borrow her 2010 memoir of life with Robert Maplethorpe, National Book Award winner.

Patti Smith had spent almost all of her adulthood in New York City, and her description of its moods and people are as observant and sympathetic as any I have read. I was delighted to find that Village Voice had published a Step-by-Step Walk Through her NYC. I came to the city in 1972 (timeline: about 1/4 way into the book, which ends with Maplethorpe's death in 1989) knowing little about American popular culture, but I loved to walk and explore and eventually got to know and love most of the places mentioned. This was so partly due to the fact that in the late 80's I got to be around a lot of artists, and they opened my world.

What's the relevance to audio? Nothing much perhaps, but everyone of a certain age has heard at least a few of her songs. Her book is a who's who on artists and musicians of the period; to cite only one, Janis Joplin. Patti Smith also mentioned a lot of the records she was playing, including Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline, which I had  just played with my Shure SC35C (great sound! report to come) before I read the book.

Many people have an image of the rock and roll musician as renegade, but anyone who can write prose like that, and recall life with such candour can only be called a God. Joan Didion said it best: "...This book is so honest and pure as to count as a true rapture...". That is exactly what it is.

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