Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Me, Anger and Patti Smith


I recently did one of those ‘taking a social media break’ holidays as it was too difficult to continue reading the media of the more-social-than-I-wanted-to-be-at-the-time.  Not only the stories of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland literally ex-communicating gay people, and refusing to baptise their children. Not only the stories about Trump’s regime putting babies in prison. It was worse than that. The people queuing up to defend them. That is what I find most difficult.

Here is Patti Smith in Dublin recently covering a song by Midnight Oil.


The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
How can we dance when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?

Patti is an artist who never compromises her work now and never did in the past. When I find myself getting anxious about gatekeepers and status she stands behind me spitting fire, quoting William S Burroughs; ‘Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.’



Anger is important. Having a voice is important. But I also want to be concerned about doing good work. Sometimes you have to hunker down for a while. It takes so long to write a novel and it is hard to maintain faith in yourself and your own rage sometimes. I suppose we do it to pay our share. I hope everyone else has a Patti to get them through as well. 


(Me at that gig. In the middle, as I hope is obvious, not that the other two aren't fine people)



15 comments:

Joan Lennon said...

Yes!

Unknown said...

Patti Smith epitomises such great core values for women and people everywhere. Seeing her live was fantastic, and unforgettable.Because the night.. was made for lovers. So glad Bruce gave this song to her.

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

Oh me too. My favourite line in that song is 'Because we believe in the night, we trust.' Faith in the light only makes sense if you know the darkness.

Anne Booth said...

That's good advice.

Steve Lor said...

Shirley, yes agree with you. Faith is always the light, or what do we have? For me, the following two lines are so powerful in their simplicity. "Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe. Love is a banquet on which we feed."

Love is all encompassing and a much needed source of energy and life, in all its forms. We all need love and we all deserve love.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Midnight Oil, an Aussie group. So pleased to see how far their work has gone! 🙂 And that it means something to you.

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

Yes! Beds are Burning was a hit in the UK when I was a child. Cracking tune. My friend Steve loved them and would play them in the car all the time. Patti was gigging with my other favourite artist, Nick Cave, so I wonder if she covered it partly as a nod to him.

Andrew Preston said...



'Because the Night' not one for me. I gained the impression somewhere along the way that Patti Smith herself was sometimes rather ambivalent, circumspect (?) about the song. For me, musicaly, it sounds like the typical stadium rock n roll Bruce Springsteen song. And doesn't do justice to the lyrics, as rewritten by Smith. I can understand why it was a big hit record. However, an exceedingly uncharitable person might describe it as the moment of the big sell out to commerciality.

Maybe I'm just some bloke inserting his opinion, but.., if you're curious, have a wander over to Youtube and listen to, say, 'Birdland', or 'Elegie' from her breakout album 'Horses'. That is what I call good work.

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

I'm familiar with Horses. Have been a Patti fan for a long time now. She's no sell out.

Steve Lor said...

I also spat my PG tips out reading that fake news :)

Steve Lor said...

Being serious, I guess it goes back to what each of us perceive,feel and believe and how it touches us inside, along with a sprinkle of bias and faith

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

I have no snobbery in me when it comes to music. People are moved by all sorts of things. Patti was gifted that song by Bruce, and it moved her, so she recorded it. She has not been ashamed of its success as far as I can tell. I've seen her play tiny venues and massive ones. People of her calibre understand that art and commercial success/failure are often only connected in the most ephemeral way. I have little time for anyone who thinks that success automatically means 'selling out'.

Also; Springsteen is a God.

Steve Lor said...

He truly is, first saw him in 1981 on the River Tour, seen many times since. Nils Lofrgen and Little Steven...same vein and still all rocking it. Bruce, is also a well read man, with a great social conscience. What more can you asked for.

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

People who think he is boring dad rock haven't seen him live. I was never a huge fan until I did. An absolute legend.

Shirley-Anne McMillan said...

I wish there was a 'like' function on blogger comments. I do appreciate everyone's comments. xxx