I love her music and her writing. I love her ethics. I love her look. I love Fred Sonic Smith and the fact that she retired when she did, and then that she made such a glorious and triumphant comeback when she did. I love that Victor Bokris book about her.
My love for her has recently reached new heights, though. I have finally got round to reading ‘Just Kids’, her memoir of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.
Like, I imagine, most Patti Smith fans, my admiration was always an awestruck one – I regarded her, literally, as some sort of high priestess and quite possibly a higher being.
‘Just Kids’ was as beautiful and wonderful as I thought – I sobbed throughout the final pages, but also and maybe more surprisingly, laughed out more than once. What it also was, was touchingly human. It really did show a lovely and extremely human side of Patti – making her as much of an icon but also kind of like she might have been my friend if I had met her back in the days she was remembering.
The relationship between Patti and Robert is beautiful – on a personal level, but also as a brilliant universal window into the development of two incredible artists. And ‘artists’ they really were – I don’t apply that term lightly. This book is inspiration for everyone who has ever really, really cared about making something brilliant and devoting their life to it.
For me, this was – of course – enhanced by the old-school New York setting. We all know it’s an obsession of mine and that I am a total Chelsea Hotel bore – both literally and metaphorically. I must admit that I particularly adored the period and location details.
It not only made me want to go back to New York, but also to make great stuff and have great friendships. All good stuff, really. Thanks, Patti and Robert.