happy birthday, Patti Smith
December 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
After the Cocker Tour, I went back to live (mostly) at Fanny Hill, the mansion up on Marmont Lane in Hollywood that Warner Brothers/Reprise rented for the band. One night we all went to see Patti perform. I’d met her on the Cocker Tour at the Chelsea one night in New York. Or at least she remembered me when I met her again a couple years ago. I barely remember that a group of us, including Joe, Leon, and well, a whole bunch of us spent the night into the early hours of the morning there hanging out in various rooms in that great hotel. I wish I could go back in time and replay those times, but I refuse to spend too much time pining or regretting the past or fearing the future – now is the best time to be alive!
I met Patti again a couple years ago. She had just completed her album, Banga, which accompanies us on long journeys, every summer in the car, as we sing at the top of our lungs along with her. That afternoon, she honored me by remembering me from the 70s. I gave her copies of my two books. I’d just read “Just Kids” twice in Yelapa, where I had days of lazing about reading. I told her I’d shown my work in Arles at the Photographer’s Festival in the 80s with Robert, and we’d had a photo taken of us together. He was so shy, always sitting alone – I’m sure I was asking him if he wanted company. I recall him being very friendly. I’m always looking to help loners feel connected. I saw Robert again in LA, when we were both part of a book of 100 photographers called “24 Hours in LA”
Patti inspires me deeply. So does her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, who I have plans to interview soon. Both are, well, beautiful and authentic, and both make music that fills my soul and drives me to want more of it. I don’t know many women my age who are as comfortable or natural aging, or seemingly so, as Patti. And I identify with the two of them as mother and daughter working together. I have worked with my daughters, Heather and Genevieve, for years – it is one of the greatest blessings of my life to be able to work together with the people I love the most in the world.
When I saw Patti in NYC a couple years ago, I simply wanted to hold on to her. She came over to my table and we talked. I love her. I guess I resonate with her. I am glad she is so human. Listening to her speak on a radio broadcast once, I heard her say “I’m not Mother Teresa” and talk about not feeling she deserves some of the accolades she gets because she is certainly not a saint – she’s said she isn’t always as nice as she would want to be. So, she’s human! Aren’t we all. That makes me like her all the more. It reminded me of Maya Angelou, who told me, “I make mistakes, daily.” I love people who reveal who they really are, warts and all. People who give it all they’ve got, who don’t take on the projections we put upon them. I remember my friend, Lindsay Wagner saying to me once, “Hey, I’m not even Lindsay Wagner.” Joe Cocker was like that, too. A person of the people. That is what Patti feels like. A person of the people. It inspires me to do the same. 100% – give it all I’ve got!
I wanted to hold onto Patti that day I saw her in NYC, so I did what documentary photographers do, I photographed her. I wanted to gaze into her eyes; to ask her questions; to be her friend. Yes, that is what I wanted most of all, to be her friend. Like a teenager in school, wanting to be friends with someone, someone I longed to know how to be like more. If I’d known her in high school, I would have asked her to come sleep over at my house and we would have snuck out at night and gone to Hollywood to hang around the music scene.
I’m so glad Patti Smith was born, and that she lives, and that she is so accessible and that she has raised two beautiful children who are making beautiful art, fantastic music, awesome waves in the world. Here’s to Patti Smith. May she have a long, healthy, muse inspired and love-filled life.