Patti Smith Live

The Poet, Author, Singer is Recorded at the Minetta Lane

Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe

BY: Claire Connors

With the huge increase in popularity of podcasts, it’s only natural that, the easy listening station on Amazon, would jump into the fray with their own “audio theater, the next stage of storytelling.” Audible is currently recording live performances by amazing writers at the famed Minetta Lane Theater in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Last September, the adored and admired poet, writer, performer, songwriter, and singer Patti Smith, took to that stage for three nights to muse on her life.

Using excerpts from her memoirs Just Kids and M Train, Smith weaved stories, poetry, and songs throughout the three performances, which was then edited into an hour and half long audiobook, Words and Music. It’s a stunning trip into an even more stunning mind. Like her fellow New Jersey rock ‘n’ roller, Bruce Springsteen, or the much-missed Canadian wordsmith, Leonard Cohen, Smith is in complete command of her audience. In her angry, snarling voice, she breaks our hearts with her tales of love and loss–her beloved husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith and her soul mate Robert Mapplethorpe both died much too soon. But this magical writer doesn’t just leave us in a puddle of tears over these untimely deaths. No, she raises us up (ok, she kicks us in the ass) with her words and her music to give us strength and power, and push us toward being more than mere spectators of this mess of a world. She encourages us to live, love, feel, and fight for what’s right.

We’ve found what looks like two bootleg videos from her performances last September at Minetta Lane, below. Accompanying Smith throughout the recordings for the audiobook are her two talented kids, daughter Jesse Paris Smith on piano and son Jackson on bass, as well as her longtime collaborator, Tony Shanahan. The first is “Pissing in a River,” from her 1976 album Radio Ethiopia, which writer Nick Hornby once wrote is “one of the 31 songs that changed my life.” And the second, “People Have The Power,” co-written with her husband, Fred, is a rousing call to action and the positive, hand-clapping, foot-stomping note Smith likes to finish her concerts with. Her last shout out to us, to “use your voice,” is both exciting and humbling, considering the exquisite writer who is addressing us. Bless you, Patti Smith!