Rock Star Patti Smith, Making Paris Swoon

Rock Star Patti Smith, Making Paris Swoon


She has the occasional tequila shot or sake, and she writes in her book that she had a glass of vodka after Mr. Trump won the election.

Lenny Kaye, her guitarist who has been at her side for 48 years, from her very first night at St. Mark’s Church, fusing poetry and music, with Lou Reed and Andy Warhol in the audience, says, “I’ve never heard her sing a false note.” He says the coolest experience you can have is going into a bookstore with Patti Smith.

Her previous memoirs, both New York Times best sellers, were “Just Kids,” her luminous reminiscence about her New York romance with Mr. Mapplethorpe in the 1960s, and “M Train,” about the period after she moved back to New York from Detroit, where she dropped out just as she was breaking out, shocking the music world and offending some feminists.

She moved to St. Clair, Mich., north of Detroit, to marry the musician Fred Smith, known as “Sonic,” and spent 16 years there, raising their two children, writing some unpublished novels. She worked with her husband to make her voice less nasal; he taught her to play the clarinet and they did one album together, “Dream of Life.” The couple lived simply and supported themselves mostly on the royalties from “Because the Night.”

“It was 1979, and all I saw in my future was a series of tours, concerts, interviews, videos, fancy cars,” she recalls. “I wasn’t doing any art. I wasn’t writing.” Fame and fortune were escalating, but “it’s such a stressful life and you find yourself getting more demanding about things that you never were demanding about, like, ‘Why isn’t my car here?’

“I don’t have any aspirations to be rich. I came from a lower-middle-class background. Even when I’ve had prosperity, I just share it.”



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