(Finished October 19, 2011)
Whenever I hear “Because the night”, I’ll picture Robert Mapplethorpe smiling and congratulating Patti on her song that he could dance to.
I really, really enjoyed reading this book. Why?
First of all, because Patti Smith writes so beautifully. Descriptive, clever, meaningful. The people and places in her stories seem to jump off the page. Whether she’s talking about her childhood, working at a bookstore, living dollar-by-dollar, or her time in Paris — it all came alive.
Although she surely doesn’t make the artist life seem easy or even very appealing, her descriptions do make it seem real. More real than I’d ever really thought that lifestyle could be. Sure, a bunch of spoiled rich kids “suffering” for their art. That’s kind of what I always pictured. But it was so much more. They REALLY lived it. And breathed it, their art. It was their passion; what they had to do. (And of course I found myself filling with jealousy because I don’t know what my passion is, but I want to find it so I can get lost in it like they did!)
Oh, and I was also jealous of Patti’s awesomeness. Though she mentions her talents with a certain nonchalance, this book couldn’t help but highlight her knack for all things art. A poet, a visual artist, a writer, a singer — Patti did it all. And it seems as though it came naturally. Oh, raw talent, to have just a bit of you…But yay for Patti, right?
I also really enjoyed learning all about the people and places in Patti and Robert’s life. From Andy Warhol to Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan — they met them all. And then some. New York at that crazy artistic time of the late 60s and early 70s was an insane place — so full of talented people whose habits and distractions were slowly killing them. It’s tragic, but also fitting. I really respected Patti for her refusal for so long to dabble in the world of drugs. Maybe she was one of the few in that world who saw what was happening to those around her and didn’t like it. (Oh, and the scene in the book where she finally does try pot is pretty hilarious.)
I think I might try to find some of the places they mentioned in the book — or where they used to be — on my trip to New York in January!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars