happy birthday, patti smith - born 63 years ago today, on december 30, 1946. the above photo is from the cover of "wave" (and taken by robert mapplethorpe) the first patti smith album in my collection (way back in 1979). in reverse chronological order i quickly added "easter" and "horses" to my collection. but, after "wave," the patti smith "group" disbanded.
while she's often called the "godmother of punk" - i more often than not think of patti smith as a beat poet, who happens to sing - a progeny of kerouac, corso, and ginsberg. smith was an especially close friend of allen ginsberg. when he died in 1995 she led many of the ginsberg tributes in his honor. it was ginsberg (along with michael stipes, of r.e.m.) that urged her to get back to making music ("work" as they called it) after a decade spent in quasi-music retirement raising her family.
she kicked off that return by briefly touring with bob dylan and releasing "gone again" - her first album of new material in almost a decade. it also began a decade long period in which her life was documented by filmmaker steven sebring and culminated with the release of "patti smith: dreams of life" in 2008. the previous year, 2007, patti smith was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame (and performed the rolling stones "gimme shelter" at the induction).
in honor of her birthday, pbs - via it's series p.o.v. - is airing "patti smith: dream of life" tonight! don't miss it!
so in honor of patti smith birthday, listen to "because the night" (co-written with bruce springsteen), "gloria," "frederick," and "dancing barefoot" today :D