On November 27, 2020, Patti Smith performed at Electric Lady Studios. No stranger to New York City Centre, famous for recordings of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and more contemporary acts, she also made her debut in 1975, The Horses, and several albums after that. Like many performers in 2020, Smith has been playing far from her element. There was no audience, no reaction, just a live broadcast, in a familiar setting. There to offer some solace after nearly a year of quarantine and living through the early stages of an ongoing global pandemic, Smith used the studio as a temporary musical home — until he played another Christmas show on December 30 — and was released Live in Electric Lady EP a year later.
In commemoration of 2-2-22, or February 2, 2022, Smith returns to the Electric Lady, along with longtime colleagues and collaborators Lenny Kaye and guitarist Tony Shanahan for a set of nine songs, punctuated by readings, exclusively for Substack subscribers, sharing the stories behind some of her songs, Readings from a selection of books, honoring the start of the Year of the Tiger, which began on 2/2/22, a date Smith didn’t initially relate to until Michael Stipe referred to it.
“I didn’t initially realize we were heading to 2222 until I got a message from my friend Michael Stipe,” Smith said. “Remind me that it was the year 2222, a day of strength and also a night of strength.”
“So we’re together on this night of strength and so grateful,” Smith added, before opening with “Grateful” to capture the essence of symbolic history singing. Everything will come out fine / I learned it line by line… whatever you want, go ahead.
Smith joked that she had washed her hair for the event, and shared a break, in honor of Chinese New Year, and the Year of the Tiger, where she sang William Blake’s 1789 poem “Tiger Tiger” from his Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Moving on, Smith sang through her story to Blake in “The Year of Blackin” –Embrace everything you fear, because joy conquers all—Before sharing the memory and bond between her late friend House poet Allen Ginsberg and Blake.
Smith shared: “William Blake always makes me think of Allen Ginsburg, because Ginsburg has always been respectful…and his two favorite men were the lovable Walt Whitmer and William Blake. When Allen was in his last hours, some of us were vigilant in his loft…Alan had Hundreds and hundreds of books and shelves of hundreds of books and shelves and shelves of William Blake.”
Like Blake, who wrote comments in his version of John Milton’s 1667 novel lost paradise, Ginsberg did the same, adding his own notes in his copy, according to Smith. “Love Blake [John] Milton the way I love Allen Blake,” Smith added.
Break to share a paragraph from her book children only, Smith recounted how she met Ginsburg at the now-defunct Horn & Hardart food restaurant. Smith shared from her book I Was Always Hungry. Robert [Mappelthorpe] She could always go on without eating longer than me.” At the time, Smith added, they would have gone without food if they didn’t have money due to no credit cards. Reading her clip, Smith added Bean, “If you didn’t have cash, you just didn’t. Eat.”
Stealing 55 cents of her favorite cheese-and-mustard sandwich with lettuce on a poppy-seed roll, Smith heads to the food dispensary where Ginsburg came to her rescue. “I slipped on my gray overcoat, Mayakovsky hat, and made my way to the automatic,” Smith continued. “I got up my stairs and slipped in my coins but the window wouldn’t open. I tried again with no luck and then noticed the price had gone up to 65 cents. I was really disappointed, to say the least when I heard a voice say “Can I help?” I turned and it was Allen Ginsburg. We’ve never met but there was nothing wrong with the face of one of our greatest poets and activists.”
Smith said the two often remember our first meeting. Smith added, “He once asked me how I would describe how we met.” “I would say you fed me when I was hungry.”
Smith added, “He did it,” before moving onto her track “Ghost Dance” in 1978 with Kaye chiming. We will live again. The hour-and-a-half set ran with more memories and songs from Smith’s nearly 50-year career. In response to some requests from viewers, Smith performed “Free Money”, one of the first songs she wrote with Kaye, and was partially inspired by her mother, who always dreamed of winning the lottery.
When reading a passage from Jana Levine’s “Black Hole Survival Guide,” Smith also referenced the 1971 war song “Slippin’ into Darkness” that reflects life during the pandemic.
“Doesn’t it kind of feel like we’re in a black hole right now,” Smith said. “We are in the field of a complete nuclear tube like a giant nuclear tube that takes us to a strange place, but it is a good and strange place because it has power [2, 2, 22]. “
Smith jumped on about her life, times, and the music she charted, singing “Redondo Beach,” a song that was later released. horses She wrote while staying at the Chelsea Hotel. Smith shared, “I actually wrote the lyrics for this at the Chelsea Hotel long before it was turned into a song.” “It was like a little poem, and then Lenny Kay and the late pianist Richard Suhl turned it into a little reggae.”
Upon completion of the set, Smith set out to deliver Kay’s latest book “Lightning Striking, Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll” before sharing another clip from her 1992 book “Woolgathering,” and the prelude to “Kimberly,” a song about her younger sister. Then she recounted her first visit to the hangouts of Richard Rambo and Jim Morrison, while in France in 1973, she sang “We Are Three” and “Under the Southern Cross”.
“It’s really a song of remembrance and also a song of life,” Smith said of the last song. Crossing people, crossing.
“Go beyond what you might say,” asked Smith, before concluding her performance with “Dancing Barefoot.”
“It’s been nearly two years since we were directed toward the demands of the pandemic and our word has changed quite a bit, not just our outer world but our inner world,” Smith said. “We must remain vigilant and look back at all the things we have learned, how to take care of ourselves.”
Smith, who has been contributing to her ongoing project melting, A collection of literary and diary entries shared exclusively with subscribers, on Substack, added:
“We have to take back our desire to work, our desire to do well, our desire to reach out to each other, reach out to those in need. It is the year of the tiger and new energy. We still have to navigate all the changes in our world. We still have to navigate any threads , and whatever virus fumes remain… We ourselves. Every person, every human, has his own story, has his own destiny, and has his own abilities. I feel ready.”
Photo: Substack / Mandolin