Thursday, March 24, 2005

High Priestess of Punk



I call this shot "Patti, Dark and Light." You don't get to make these kind of in-camera mistakes anymore, not with digital. This was taken with a Nikon FM way back in 1978. I still use that camera. It is the only camea I use, in fact. I think its flawless.

Patti Smith has been referred to as the Punk Godmother or Punk High Priestess and those designations are not undeserved. She broke a lot of ground for women everywhere. She was a rock critic and journalist, always a poet, a brave explorer of music and style. She recorded groundbreaking albums like "Horses" and "Radio Ethiopia" with some of rock n roll's most respected producers, John Cale, and Jack Douglas respectively, and held her own, making those records sound like Patti Smith records. The mainstream didn't catch on to her until she released the song that's got a co-writing credit with Bruce Springsteen, "Because the Night." Still, it was her song. The kind of song that made you want to pump your fist in the air during the chorus. It saddens me that 10,000 Maniacs are remembered for covering "Because the Night." Sorry, Natalie - you cannot hold a candle to Patti. Patti has earned respect from artists in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, most noticeably, U2, who made her "Dancing Barefoot" a staple in their live set. So did Australia's pyschedelic rock band, The Church. Patti's drummer, Jay Dee Daugherty even played on a couple Church tours and an album. It was his birthday on Tuesday, by the way. Happy Belated!

Does Patti get the respect she deserves? Why is she not in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? "Horses" was released long enough ago to have warranted her induction for the past five years. Wake up, Rock Hall!

For more glorious photos of Patti, please visit Jenny Lens Punk Archive. Jenny and I photographed Patti quite a lot from 1976 - 1978. We often stood side by side, or on opposite sides of the stage. We cover quite a lot of similar ground, but when the shots are complimentary, you can see an entire song played out in frames. Check it out!

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