Shuffleathon 2007. Part 2

Patti Smith – Gone Again

I don’t go out of my way to buy everything she releases but Patti Smith  is an icon. When at college in the early nineties, I went out and bought Horses and Marquee Moon from Piccadilly Records, just because so many musicians had raved about them and their influence. I think I had also just finished reading England’s Dreaming. Marquee Moon was okay – nice bouncy angular rock and Tom Verlaine sounded great – it filled in part of the gap in my musical knowledge between the late sixties and punk and was certainly great music – but Horses was fantastic. So much anger and power and beauty from one gawky looking twenty nine year old woman from New Jersey. And it must have seemed like something from another universe when it was originally released. I don’t think there is a single wasted moment on that record, it’s incredibly powerful.

I bought Gone Again in 1996 and I bought Trampin’ a few years back which is also a fine record. It took a while to get into Gone Again, as it was a bit more subdued and less immediate than much of her early work, but the magic was still there. This is the title track from that album and reminds me of a particular flat I lived in in the mid nineteen nineties and the life I was leading then.

I think her strength lies in the fact that she is another genuine individual who certainly lives what she speaks. She has had a tough life. She ignored music from the mid eighties to the mid nineties in order to bring up her kids and good for her – why not ? She never lost touch with reality – like Kate Bush I suspect she does her own washing and ironing. She has been successful in the fields of poetry, music and photography, and as a poet and thinker she has the sort of gravitas which few others command in these shallow and fickle times. But she has no touch of the diva about her – she was briefly shown in the great BBC4 documentary “Once upon a time in New York” earlier this year talking about when she first saw Television play live (at CBGB’s) and she still sounded like an excited young girl at her first gig.  For me, she is up there with many of the greats of the 20th Century. Oh, and she is still not afraid to speak out against injustice and up for what she believes in. Arguably she is the last link with the beat generation we have.  I recommend this Victor Bockris biography for more about her.

And I am really looking forward to this

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