Now Playing: Patti Smith – Gloria
The following passage is from Patti Smith's upcoming memoir, Just Kids, which documents her first years in New York City in the late 1960s. Sharp, funny, and keenly remembered, Patti's story is great as both a historical recollection and a personal story of young artists (she was living with the equally young Robert Mapplethorpe at the time) trying to make it in the big city, which resonates loud and clear. I don't typically miss my 20s, but occasionally, when I read something as elegant and rich as Just Kids, I grow wistful for cheap burritos heated up in old Jiffy Pop containers in my oven (which also served as the heater!) for the small, one-room apartment I shared with my girlfriend Regina.
The passage below, which is from Patti's book and was just reprinted by Rolling Stone Magazine, reiterates part of what — along with Patti's art — is so enduring and beautiful about her to me.
"When Janis Joplin returned in August for her rain date in Central Park, she seemed extremely happy. She was looking forward to recording, and came into town resplendent in magenta, pink and purple feather boas. She wore them everywhere. The concert was a great success, and afterward we all went to the Remington, an artists' bar near lower Broadway. The tables were crowded with her entourage: Michael Pollard, Sally Grossman (who was the girl in the red dress on the cover of Bringing It All Back Home), Brice Marden and the actress Tuesday Weld. The jukebox was playing Charley Pride. Janis spent most of the party with a good-looking guy she was attracted to, but just before closing time he ducked out with one of the prettier hangers-on. Janis was devastated. "This always happens to me, man. Just another night alone," she sobbed on Bobby's shoulder.
Bobby asked me to get her to the Chelsea and to keep an eye on her. I took Janis back to her room, and sat with her while she bemoaned her fate. Before I left, I told her that I'd made a little song for her, and sang it to her. I was working real hard/To show the world what I could do/Oh, I guess I never dreamed/I'd have to/World spins some photographs/How I love to laugh when the crowd laughs/While love slips through/A theatre that is full/But oh, baby/When the crowd goes home/And I turn in and I realize I'm alone/I can't believe/I had to sacrifice you.
She said, "That's me, man. That's my song." As I was leaving, she looked in the mirror, adjusting her boas. "How do I look, man?"
"Like a pearl," I answered. "A pearl of a girl."
If you love rock-n-roll memoirs or Patti Smith, do yourself a favor and pick up the latest Rolling Stone, and when the book comes out, get your arse to a bookstore! You can also check out Dream of Life, the new Patti Smith documentary by Steven Sebring, which is both on sale and has been shown on PBS.
**I don't know who took the "fuck the clock" photo, but I got it from here.