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‘I don’t need no f*cking shit’: Patti Smith on getting bleeped
02:09 pm


Patti Smith

We’re big fans of the Blank on Blank series of animated versions of interviews of prominent people like Tom Waits, Martin Scorsese, Hunter Thompson, and Nina Simone. PBS Digital Studios are responsible for producing these, and they’re always very diverting.

The interview excerpts are always very well-chosen—by which I mean they’re interesting and lend themselves well to animation—and the animating style, mostly by Pat Smith, is always very lively and appropriate to the subject matter.

Blank on Blank just released an interesting new one that derives from an interview Patti Smith gave in London in 1976 to Mick Gold, a journalist who wrote for CREEM and Melody Maker and that year also published Rock on the Road, a collection of photo essays about rock music.

It’s amazing how much stuff they manage to cram into this 5-minute video. It’s ostensibly about Smith’s annoyance at having her re-working of Pete Townshend‘s “My Generation” bleeped because she changed one of the lines to “I don’t need no fucking shit,” but it wanders freely from there to cover Smith’s early interest in the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud (I think this is the edition she was talking about), her collegial relationship with Bob Dylan, and her learned ability to inhabit a dream state whenever she chooses.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Patti Smith pays homage to reggae genius Tapper Zukie
09:45 am


Patti Smith
Lenny Kaye
Tapper Zukie

Robert Mapplethorpe’s cover for the Mer Records reissue of Man Ah Warrior

Since its founding in 1974, Lenny Kaye’s Mer label has put out a total of five records. Of these, two are by Patti Smith, one by Kaye. The other two releases belong to the only artist on Mer who wasn’t in the Patti Smith Group: toaster, DJ and producer Tapper (a/k/a Tappa or Topper) Zukie.

Smith has said that she practiced reciting her poems over Zukie’s first album, 1973’s Man Ah Warrior, before she worked them up as songs. Presumably, she heard the album through Kaye, who writes that he brought it back to NYC from a “West London back alley reggae stall” when it was brand new. Three years later, when both Zukie and the Patti Smith Group had achieved cult fame in the UK, the “M.P.L.A.” singer joined the band onstage in London. Kaye: November 1976 at the venerable Hammersmith Odeon, Tapper Zukie joined the Patti Smith Group onstage for a babylon-burning rendition of “Ain’t It Strange,” and we became friends. Tapper came to visit us in New York, preparing a dinner of roast fish just after he got off the plane; and we released Man Ah Warrior on our Mer label. He opened for us at the Rainbow Theater in London the following year, and with such hits as “M.P.L.A.” and “Go Deh Natty, Go Deh” and the sinuous “Pick Up the Rocker,” encapsulated a moment where two different musics with the same sense of apocalyptic vision and revolutionary spirit could go forth and conquer.


Smith seriously injured herself in Tampa on January 23, 1977, when her ecstatic spinning during that night’s performance of “Ain’t It Strange” took her over the lip of the stage. She fell fifteen feet, fracturing two of her vertebrae and smashing her face on the concrete floor. Shortly after the accident, she told a Sounds writer that writing the poem “Tapper the Extractor” during her hospital stay aided her recovery:’s the best poem I’ve written for a real long time. Tapper’s poem kept me from losing consciousness; it’s all about ‘the thread of return.’ ...Yeah, the thread of return kept me here.


The back cover of Zukie’s Man from Bozrah LP, featuring “THE TAPPER EXTRACTS”
This poem, or a version of it, appeared as the liner notes of Zukie’s outstanding 1978 LP The Man from Bozrah, where it was credited to “PATTIE [sic] SMITH & L. Kaye”: 

“one does not hold the key, he extends it”

Zu-Kie, the Tapper of precious blood, looks down at his mother bending over the river beating the clothes w/a stone. in/space the Tapper extracts; the sky full of numbers . . . the mute procession of the 12 tribes . . . the insatiable dreamer that totems the manor . . . the rude Zugernaut . . . a Mesopotamia hotel . . . Taj Mahal . . . keeper of bees . . . aluminum comes exuding the icing of light. awareness is relative and anyone relating to the Tapper feels the fluid of the future flooding his veins . . . the screen projects deliverance . . . vague silver members . . . the lost years of Jesus + Cleopatra . . . Tablets unearthed from the dawn of time . . . a rose glow . . . searchlights over the labyrinth . . . rube flux and a vibrant twist of thread . . . .

Tapper, the extractor, ties it all together. like a playful cat he taps the raveling ball . . . sending it in/space like a corvette over Detroit landing on the throat of the babbeling son of ritual.

he cried ah/men oh/men
his bodily fluids coagulate into a smooth stone
etched w/the synchronizing symbols;
words of power/words of light
cries from the valley of the forgotten
the gentle panorama/the shackles of slaves opening like a laughing wound
the shining faces of the liberation
the ma/sonic key of the Tapper is turning
the ball of thread is unraveling . . .
the walls of the labyrinth are splitting . . .
and the people are rushing . . .
Rushing like the blood of the lion merging w/Zu-kie, the Tapper of blood, looking down at his mother bending over the river and his father working in the Field.

A slightly longer and differently punctuated version of the poem, in which “Zu-kie” is spelled “zookey,” can be found in Smith’s Babel.

After the jump, hear the two sides of Zukie’s Mer single, “Viego” and “Archie, the Rednose Reindeer”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Shane MacGowan perpetrates ‘Cannibalism at Clash gig,’ 1976

On Saturday, October 23, 1976, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London hosted a show by the brand-new punk sensation known as the Clash. It was an eventful evening by any reckoning.

The openers were Subway Sect and Snatch Sounds, who seem not to have made much of an impression. At that point the Clash and the Sex Pistols were in a category of two in terms of being at the absolute pinnacle of delivering pissed-off punk music and generating the electric excitement of punk (and the associated publicity too). The night before and that night too, Patti Smith was playing the Hammersmith Odeon but managed to make her way to the ICA so that she could dance onstage to “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” As will be easily imagined, the audience was in a rowdy mood and the alcohol was flowing freely. The show had been billed as “a night of pure energy,” and it surely lived up to that.

In the November 6, 1976, issue of the New Musical Express ran an account of the show written by Barry Miles, who preferred to go simply by “Miles” as a nom de journalisme. The cheeky, startling headline of the piece was “CANNIBALISM AT CLASH GIG,” with the subtitle “But why didn’t anybody eat MILES?” At the top and the bottom of the writeup were two pictures, taken by Red Saunders, of Shane MacGowan and a renowned punk fan named Jane Crockford, unflatteringly nicknamed “Mad Jane.” The pictures show indistinct mayhem as well as a generous portion of blood flowing from MacGowan’s right earlobe. Interestingly, both of the subjects were, or would be, in notable bands of their own; MacGowan was in the Nipple Erectors and (of course) the Pogues, while Jane was in the Bank of Dresden and the Mo-dettes.

In Bob Gruen’s must-own book The Clash he gets Mick Jones and Paul Simonon to comment on the show:

Mick: That was the night of Shane MacGowan’s earlobe, wasn’t it? He didn’t really have it bitten off, you know. Isn’t that the same show where Patti Smith got up on stage during our set?

Paul: That was the ICA—it was called A Night of Pure Energy. My haircut’s gone very mod; it had flopped down from all the jumping around onstage. In the beginning all that jumping about was a way of dodging gobs and missiles generally. There’s Joe with his sharks’ teeth—when I first met him they looked just like a real sharks’ teeth.

Gruen notes of the MacGowan incident that it gave the Clash “their first significant press coverage.” He also quotes Joe Strummer as saying, “Without Mad Jane’s teeth and Shane’s earlobe, we wouldn’t have got in the papers that week.”

In The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town, Marcus Gray writes about that evening:

When the Clash started playing, a couple in front of Miles and Red were obstructing their view of the band. Apparently intent on attacking each other while laughing like maniacs, they refused to move out of the way. So Red took pictures of them. “I had no idea how famous those photos were to become.” The NME used them to accompany Miles’s report under the headline “CANNIBALISM AT CLASH GIG”: “A young couple, somewhat out of it, had been nibbling and fondling each other amid the broken glass when she suddenly lunged forward and bit his ear lobe off [while the crowd] watched with cold, calculate hipitude.” ... the Clash gig was a wild night fuelled by speed and alcohol. The bar staff entered into the spirit of the evening to such an extent that they gave away a further £80 worth of booze ... and the twosome Miles and Red observed, Mad Jane and Shane MacGowan, were by no means content to loiter at the back of the queue.

“Me and this girl were having a bit of a laugh which involved biting each other’s arms till they were completely covered in blood and then smashing up a couple of bottles and cutting each other up a bit,” Shane informed ZigZag’s Granuaille in 1986, setting the record straight on the occasion of punk’s 10th anniversary, and, in the process, offering another insight into the mythopoetics of punk. “That, in those days, was the sort of thing that people used to do. I haven’t got a clue now why I did it or why anyone would want to do it, but that was how teenagers got their kicks in London if they were hip. Anyway, in the end she went a bit over the top and bottled me in the side of the head. Gallons of blood came out and someone took a photograph. I never got it bitten off—although we had bitten each other to bits—it was just a heavy cut.” As Shane noted, though, the anecdote was exaggerated with each telling. “It’s like the old story about the bloke who catches the fish. He says that it weighs this much and it’s that big, and within a couple of days it’s a whale.” Over the years, few have been prepared to let the fact that his earlobes are both present and correct stand in the way of a good story.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Miserable in Manchester: Amusing letters and music reviews from a young Morrissey

Morrissey, the writer
A young Steven Morrissey contemplating the state of punk rock
Recently, I spent some time collecting for you my dear Dangerous Minds readers, numerous amusing pieces of personal correspondence (adorable typos and all) from a young, pre-Smiths Morrissey. Even back then, Morrissey was busy cultivating the melancholy persona that we all know and love today.
The home address of a teenage Morrissey
The home address of a teenage Morrissey
A page of a letter from Morrissey to his pen pal, Robert Mackie
Part of a letter from a young Morrissey to his pen pal, Robert Mackie, October 22nd, 1980
In addition to excerpts from many of his pen pal letters to Robert Mackie, I’ve included a few of Morrissey’s letters to various magazines and several of his reviews of bands like Depeche Mode and The Cramps that appeared in the weekly British newspaper, the Record Mirror from 1980.

I’m especially fond of the then teenaged Morrissey’s review of a live gig in April of 1980 by The Cramps at Manchester Polytechnic (which you can read below) that he wrote for Record Mirror in which he muses “Is it true that guitarist Ivy Rorschach sets fires to orphanages when she’s bored?” If only. What follows makes for some fantastic reading, enjoy!
A review of a live Cramps gig at Manchester Polytechnic that appeared in Record Mirror on April 4th, 1980
A review of a live show of The Cramps at Manchester Polytechnic that appeared in the Record Mirror, April 4th, 1980 written by a 21-year-old Morrissey
More Morrissey, after the jump…

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Poet, high priestess of punk rock Patti Smith turns 69 today
10:48 am


Patti Smith

Poet, shaman, high priestess of punk rock… Patti Smith turns 69 today. Celebrate with this professionally shot clip of the Patti Smith Group performing a rather incendiary—you might say Dionysian—rendition of “Radio Ethiopia” at Stockholm’s Konserthuset on October 3, 1976. This gets to the essence of what makes Patti Smith so great, and what made her work seem so exciting, inspiring and utterly revolutionary at the time.

Radio Ethiopia is the name of our new record and it represents to us a naked field wherein anyone can express themselves. It’s a free radio, ya know. We’re the DJ’s. The people are the DJ’s. When we perform “Radio Ethiopia,” I play guitar. I don’t know how to play guitar, but I just get in a perfect rhythm and I play, I don’t care. And the people are allowed to do as they wish. If it’s a really good show, there’s like a thousand, 10,000, 50,000 people. 50,000 minds, 50,000 sub-consciousnesses that I can dip into. I mean, the more people submit and the more I submit, the greater show it’s going to be, the greater we’re going to be. I mean, I don’t like audiences who sit there and act cool like this—“pfft”—because nothing’s going to happen.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Patti Smith and Ray Manzarek’s 1974 tribute to Jim Morrison
07:51 am


Patti Smith
Jim Morrison
Ray Manzarek

Patti Smith visits Jim Morrison’s grave, 1976
Patti Smith released her first single, “Hey Joe” b/w “Piss Factory,” in August 1974; her second appearance on record came later that year on a song by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Billboard’s review of Manzarek’s second solo album, The Whole Thing Started with Rock & Roll Now It’s out of Control, advised retailers that it was strictly for the FM crowd:

Don’t expect much AM action on this one, but watch for plenty of FM action, especially with the likes of Flo & Eddie, George Segal, Mike Fennelly, Joe Walsh and Patti Smith along for the ride. A strong set, and lots of fun as well.


The sleeve credits Smith as “Poetess” for her appearance on the Doors-ish blues number “I Wake Up Screaming.” Two minutes and seven seconds in, Smith reads Jim Morrison’s “Ensenada”—mind you, not the “Ensenada” published in The American Night, in which “Dog licks shit / Mexican girl whore sucks my prick,” but the seven-line “Ensenada” from The New Creatures which Morrison sometimes recited during Doors performances:

the dead seal
the dog crucifix
ghosts of the dead car sun.
Stop the car.
Rain. Night.

The album version of “I Wake Up Screaming”:

A live performance from Roslyn, New York in 1975, minus Patti but with extra Lizard King:

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
A beautiful story about Patti Smith from last night’s reading in Illinois
06:32 pm


Patti Smith
M Train

Patti Smith is currently promoting her latest memoir M Train. During last night’s reading at the Dominican University in Illinois, Smith was reunited with some very personal belongings, as disclosed today by a member of the audience who posts as “maxnix” on the Steven Hoffman Music Forums.

maxnix “wanted to share a quick story . . ” and posted details of this beautiful moment during Smith’s reading:

The family and I went to see Patti Smith last night at Dominican University in Illinois, reading from “M Train”, telling stories, etc. I have seen her do this several times, and it’s always a lot of fun and a moving experience. Usually, she takes a break and takes (and tolerates!) a few audience questions . . mostly “what’s your favorite poem” and the like.

Last night, however, a woman stood up and told Patti that she had a bag of clothes that belonged to her 40 years ago and would like to return it. Smith (and everybody) looked totally confused, but asked the person to come up to the stage and hand her the bag. Patti looked inside and just froze.

Turns out that 40 years ago the band’s truck was stolen in Chicago, all their equipment/clothes/personal things basically everything they owned. These clothes among them. So Patti pulls out these items of clothing and talks about them (the shirt she wore on the Rolling Stone cover, the Keith Richards T-Shirt you’ve seen her wear in a hundred photos) and then gets to the bottom of the bag. Here was a bandana that her beloved late brother had worn and then given to her, and she starts to weep. Before long, half the audience was crying with her.

Naturally, people in the audience were asking where/why/how?? but Patti just put her hands out and said she doesn’t care how, she’s just so grateful to have these priceless items back. Amazing. The rest of the program, after she piled everything on the podium, she couldn’t stop touching them, eventually slowly slipping the bandana into her pocket and proceeded to do a ripping version of Because the Night with her son on acoustic guitar.

What a night.

Read the whole forum discussion here. Below Patti discussing M Train on Democracy Now!.

H/T Mark Hagen

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Poem for Keef’: Patti Smith’s poem for Keith Richards, 1978
12:40 pm


Patti Smith
Keith Richards

There’s a delightful slapdash quality to the magazine Rock Scene from the 1970s. The magazine, which was edited by Richard Robinson, featured contributions from Alan Betrock, Lenny Kaye, Leee Black Childers, and Lisa Robinson. I can’t speak for the intentions that went into Rock Scene, but to me it reads like an attempt, largely successful, to offer the demographic that gravitated towards, say, the Stones and the Ramones a Tiger Beat all their own. A typical issue from May 1977 name-checked the following acts on the cover: Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Television, the Sex Pistols, and Gene Simmons. That mix of mainstream hard rock and cutting-edge impulses from the world of punk was typical of the magazine—most importantly, the Bay City Rollers, Donny & Marie, and Leif Garrett, to cite a random issue of Tiger Beat from the exact same period, were nowhere to be found.

The cover of every issue trumpeted the number of pictures to be found within (“OVER 150 PHOTOS”), and If they were grainy b/w pictures that were laid out in half an hour max, all the better. Rock Scene, which came out every two months, spent as much time documenting the insider-ish parties backstage at Max’s Kansas City or CBGBs as the gigs themselves.

The February 1978 issue of Rock Scene contains a startling artifact that, well, scarcely exists in Internet terms. (At least, none of the many Google searches I’ve tried was able to find it.) The cover of that issue promised “PATTI SMITH: POEM FOR KEEF” and damned if there isn’t a poem by Patti Smith about Keith Richards tucked in there on page 13.

By the way, the legendary Stones guitarist and songwriter is mentioned in three places in this issue (at least as pertains to the poem)—cover, table of contents, and on the page with the poem—and every time the final “S” is left off of his last name, as in “Keith Richard.”

The poem is called “Wreath.” I’ve done a little checking in the various poetry collections under Smith’s name, and it apparently isn’t included in any of them. It’s not in WITT (1973; a longshot to be sure) or Early Work, 1970-1979 (published 1994). The best chance would likely have been Babel, published in 1978 and covering poems of the previous five years, but it isn’t in there either.


on the hills of rif we come to greet you
through the halls of myth we choose to roam
crown of thorns
shroud of love
our gifts we offer
and the waters of life
of health
of stone
on the hills of rif we call, undefeated
crown of thorns
kreed of love
and language comb
on the hills of rif we rise
salute you
ja-kiss your face of light and bone

Click on the image for a larger version:

I found this issue of Rock Scene at the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives, which is located at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. It is free and open to the public. Visit their website for more information.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Rad American Women A-Z’: A feminist alphabet book for the little riot grrrl in your life
10:19 am


Patti Smith
Angela Davis

Angela Davis
I’ve been noticing a recent (though long overdue) trend in woman-centric education tools for the tiniest of tots, but frankly, a lot of them are super lame. I don’t really think preschoolers need to learn about Hillary Clinton, she’ll be ruling over them soon enough. They’ll get it by osmosis…

The new alphabet book—Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! is a breath of fresh air on that front. Combining figures from the arts like Patti Smith and dancer Isadora Duncan with human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, and the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, the book goes for the deeper cuts and avoids a wholesome/boring lecture on “foremothers”—plus, the graphics beat a princess theme any day. Considering how many times kids request the same book, I’d say it’s a good move for parental sanity.

Carol Burnett

Isadora Duncan
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Patti Smith interviews David Lynch
10:30 am


David Lynch
Patti Smith

Though I’m sure your thoughts are probably on higher things than mine, I couldn’t help but consider the benefits of hair dye while watching this interview between Patti Smith and David Lynch. Is there a point when life can be enhanced by a teeny drop of Nice ‘n’ Easy? I was a tad surprised this question wasn’t raised during the interview, however, Ms. Smith and Mr. Lynch did share their thoughts about singer Bobby Vinton and the film Blue Velvet, the series Twin Peaks (which Smith claims “reconnected [her] to the world and art”) and the feminist band Pussy Riot, of which Ms. Smith says:

These girls did something absolutely original. As even a mother or a grandmother, they are in my prayers.

The interview is taken from the “Encounters” strand of BBC’s “flagship” news and current affairs program Newsnight,  in which two notable people interview each other about issues relating to their work. If you’re a fan of either Ms. Smith or Mr. Lynch, you will surely enjoy this.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins’: Patti Smith invited to perform at Vatican Christmas concert!
01:13 pm

Current Events

Patti Smith
Pope Francis excelsis deo

You have to commend Pope Francis for his good taste in music—it’s been announced that Patti Smith is slated to perform at the Vatican Christmas Concert in Rome—but you have to wonder if he’s ever heard The Patti Smith Group’s cover of “Gloria”?

You read that right, the poet/singer who shocked an entire nation nearly forty years ago singing “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” on Saturday Night Live back in 1976 was asked to take part in the festivities at the Auditorium Conciliazione on December 13th after Pope Francis personally invited her, according to The International Business Times.

Obviously Smith, who shook hands with the Pontiff at St. Peter’s Square last April, is an odd choice of performer for the Catholic Church to make and already certain groups are up in arms about it.

The Holy See’s announcement of Smith’s participation comes as one Catholic group is trying to ban “blasphemous” Smith from playing a gig at the Basilica of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples set for four days prior to the Vatican concert.

The entire event is set to be broadcast live on TV.

Below, Smith on SNL in 1976. I saw this as it went down on live TV when I was ten years old. It might not seem as shocking now, but back then it was absolutely inconceivable that someone would do or say something like this on television. The date was April 17, 1976 and since Smith didn’t go on until after midnight, this meant that she technically sang this on Easter Sunday!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Patti Smith’s ‘Career of Evil’ with Blue Öyster Cult
10:57 am


Patti Smith
Blue Öyster Cult

In the 70s and 80s, Blue Öyster Cult had their pick of interesting lyricists. Their friend Richard Meltzer, one of the first rock critics, contributed a number of songs, among them “Harvester of Eyes,” “Stairway to the Stars” and “Burnin’ for You.” Like Hawkwind, BÖC collaborated with sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, who wrote the words to “Veteran of the Psychic Wars,” “The Great Sun Jester” and “Black Blade.” And how better to while away a lazy afternoon than by puzzling over the gnomic lyrics of manager Sandy Pearlman, author of such intelligence-resisting classics as “7 Screaming Diz-busters” and “Dominance and Submission”? But the only Commandeur dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres to have written for the metal gods is Patti Smith, who was romantically involved with BÖC keyboardist Allen Lanier in the mid-70s.

In her memoir Just Kids, Smith mentions Richard Meltzer as one of the rock journalists she “held in esteem” in the 70s. A few pages later, writing about her first performance with guitarist Lenny Kaye, she suggests the writer was more Kaye’s friend than hers, listing Meltzer as one of “Lenny’s people [who] came to cheer him on.” For what it’s worth, Meltzer’s version of events, as told in Blue Oyster Cult: Secrets Revealed!, is quite different from Smith’s, and characteristically scabrous:

“OK, basically, I was the one who brought her to the band,” recounts Meltzer. “She was my friend. In the summer of 1970, my dentist was around the corner from the bookstore where she worked, Scribner’s Books on 5th Avenue in the 40s. And I stopped in there and we became great friends. And somewhere down the line I brought her to the band. And Pearlman wanted to fuck her and that was his interest. And I don’t know if he did or didn’t, but once it was clear that she was with Allen, it got to be that there was a lot of tension between Pearlman and Allen. And Allen and Patti were very anti-Semitic folks, without any irony whatsoever. You know, fuck the Jews, all that kind of stuff. And so there was a lot of anti-Pearlman wrath from both of them. I lived with this woman Ronnie and we would hang out with Allen and Patti a lot, through the mid ‘70s. And essentially what made the relationship viable was that we didn’t mind their anti-Semitism. But the point is that Allen thought the faux-Nazi stuff was a joke. I mean, everybody took it as a joke. Except, as I remember, Eric [Bloom] thought there was something cool about it, that the Third Reich had its shit together. You know, the Jew in the woodpile was the one that took it the most seriously.”

Well that’s interesting, isn’t it?

If I’m not mistaken, Smith’s voice first appeared on Ray Manzarek’s The Whole Thing Started with Rock & Roll Now It’s out of Control (1974), which is hard going even (especially?) for a Doors fan. However, the first Patti Smith lyric committed to vinyl was 1973’s “Baby Ice Dog,” sequenced as the first song on the second side of BÖC’s masterpiece Tyranny and Mutation. Set on a frozen Mongolian steppe, the song tells the familiar tale of man’s betrayal by dog, dog’s fatal plunge through ice, and man’s fantasy about “unnatural acts” involving ladies who’d “like to make it with my big black dog.”

“Baby Ice Dog” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Tyranny and Mutation
With its unrepentant declaration of adherence to the left-hand path, Smith’s next BÖC lyric, “Career of Evil,” makes the first lines of “Gloria” seem like not such a big deal. For starters, she wants to seduce your wife and daughter, rob you, hold you for ransom, and charge you for unnecessary brain surgery. When it was released as the single from BÖC’s third album Secret Treaties, the line “I’d like to do it to your daughter on a dirt road” was amended to “I’d like to do it like you oughta on a dirt road.” Meltzer calls the song “the first forcible fusion of rock and Rimbaud.”

“Career of Evil” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Secret Treaties
The platinum-selling Agents of Fortune—the one from 1976 with “Don’t Fear the Reaper”—includes two songs with lyrics by Smith. The chorus of “The Revenge of Vera Gemini,” a duet between Patti and BÖC’s lead singer Eric Bloom, refers to Smith’s debut album Horses, released the previous year:

Oh no more horses, horses
We’re gonna swim like a fish
Into the hole in which you planned to ditch me
My lovely Vera Marie


“The Revenge of Vera Gemini” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune
The last Smith lyric BÖC recorded was 1983’s “Shooting Shark,” released during her retirement from music. In the video for the song, guitarist and singer Buck Dharma takes part in an unspeakable ritual, chases a spectral woman with an equally spectral gun, and sees a lot of things that are just plain mysterious.

The music video for “Shooting Shark” from Blue Öyster Cult’s The Revölution by Night

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Great 1979 footage of Patti Smith at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ now online
01:41 pm


Patti Smith

A lovely soul at Music Vault (a beautifully curated YouTube channel) has uploaded some amazing footage of Patti Smith from a 1979 show at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic. The Jersey girl could not have been met with a more enthusiastic home turf crowd, and it’s a really great performance. Smith is at home onstage, sweet and familiar—at one point she introduces a song by Lenny Kaye to a cheering crowd by saying, “Oh thank you; I have to go to the bathroom.”

She’s going a bit hoarse throughout, but it only seems to add to the growl of an animal performance. This was just after the release of Easter, her most commercially successful album, but the show has some great material from my fave, Horses. Check out the sexy rendition of “Redondo Beach,” which gets the sapphic intro, “Redondo… Beach… is the beach… where…women… love other… women.” She also absolutely destroys “Revenge,” and does a few mournful bars of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Check out the rest of the show on their Patti Smith channel.

More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa, John Cage, Patti Smith & others celebrate William S. Burroughs at the Nova Convention

Nova Convention
In 1978, after many years of living in London and Tangiers, William S. Burroughs decided to return to his home country. For a small group of artistic weirdos, this was a significant event, and a convention was held in his honor at the Entermedia Theater from November 30 through December 2, 1978, on Second Avenue and 12th Street in New York City (it’s no longer there). Much earlier, it had been announced that Keith Richards would be on hand, but after his heroin arrest in Toronto, his management calculated that it would not be wise to appear at a festival honoring the legendary deviant drug addict William S. Burroughs. Frank Zappa was enlisted to read the “Talking Asshole” section from Naked Lunch. Patti Smith, who wore “a glamorous black fur trench” in the words of Thurston Moore, objected mightily to having to follow Zappa and had to be placated by Burroughs confidant and organizer of the convention James Grauerholz, who explained to Smith that Zappa’s appearance was a last-minute necessity and not intended to show Smith up. You can listen to Smith’s contribution, in which she addresses Richards’ absence, here. At the “event party” for the convention, the musical performances included Suicide, The B-52s, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein from Blondie. The inclusion of The B-52s is most fascinating, as they hadn’t even released their first album yet.
William S. Burroughs
Other participants included Terry Southern, Philip Glass, John Cage, Laurie Anderson and Allen Ginsburg. You can read a writeup of the event from the December 4, 1978, edition of the New York Times: “Of the other performers, Mr. Burroughs himself was the most appealing, and this had less to do with what he was reading than with how he read it. Although he has created some enduring characters, he is his own most interesting character, and he was in rare form, sitting at a desk in a business suit and bright green hat, shuffling papers and reading in his dry Midwestern accent.” An LP and cassette documenting the event were released in 1979 and they fetch top prices today at Discogs.

According to Ted Morgan in Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs,

The Nova Convention took place on November 30, December 1, and December 2, 1978, with the principal performances being held on the last two days at the Entermedia Theater, on Second Avenue and Twelfth Street, which had in the fifties been the fabled Phoenix Theater. Attending were an odd mixture of academics, publishers, writers, artists, punk rockers, counterculture groupies, and an influx of bridge-and-tunnel kids drawn by Keith Richards, who made the event a sellout.


Saturday night the Entermedia was packed, largely with young people waiting to see Keith Richards. There was a small hitch, however, which was that Keith Richards had cancelled. He was having problems as the result of a heroin bust in Toronto, and his office convinced him that appearing on the same program with Burroughs was bad publicity.

But the show had to go on, and the composer Philip Glass, playing one of his repetitive pieces on the synthesizer, was thrown to the wolves. The disappointed kids who wanted Keith Richards shouted and booed. Then Brion Gysin went on amid cries of “Where’s Keith?” and found himself hoping that the riot would not start until he had done his brief turn.

In a last-minute effort, James Grauerholz had recruited Frank Zappa to pinch-hit for Keith. He volunteered to read the “Talking Asshole” routine from Naked Lunch. But as Zappa was preparing to go on, Patti Smith had a fit of pique about following him. James did his best to make peace, saying “Frank has come in at the last minute, and he’s got to go on, and he’s doing it for William, not to show you up.” Patti Smith retreated to the privacy of her dressing room, and Zappa got a big hand, because that’s what they wanted, a rock star.

From July 1 through July 13, the Red Gallery in London is putting on an exhibition dedicated to the Nova Convention. The exhibition is curated by Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz; Moore, who was present at the event in 1978, supplies a short piece called “Nova Reflections” to the exhibition catalogue; here are some snippets of that:

What I remember of the Nova Convention, in my teenage potted reverie, was a palpable excitement of the importance of Burroughs’ return to NYC. He had been living and working in London for some time, and before that, was residing in Tangiers. My awareness of the poets and performers on the Nova Convention bill was obscure, but I did realise everyone there had experienced a history in connection to the man. The poet Eileen Myles performed, and I have a hazy memory of what she has since reminded me was a polarising moment that night: She and a femme cohort came out on stage and performed the so-called William Tell act where in 1951 Burroughs tragically sent a bullet through his wife Joan Vollmer’s skull, killing her instantly. According to Eileen she was hence persona non grata backstage, and frozen out from the coterie of avant lit celebrities shocked at her “reminder” performance.


Glass’s idiosyncratic high-speed minimalist pianistics was natural, gorgeous and sublime. Zappa came out and read a Burroughs excerpt “The Talking Asshole” which seemed appropriate and was mildly entertaining. Patti hit the stage in a glamorous black fur trench, purportedly on loan from some high-end clothier. She rambled on a bit, brazenly unscripted, testing the patience of the long night when out of the audience some fan-boy freako leapt on stage and bequeathed her with a Fender Duo-Sonic guitar. She accepted it cooly and before long was gone. And we stumbled into the 2nd Avenue night.

In his catalogue piece, Moore leads with an anecdote about photographer James Hamilton, whose astonishing pictures of rock icons are collected in the book (Moore was intergral in putting that book together as well) You Should Have Heard Just What I Seen. Hamilton was covering the event for the Village Voice, and while it’s not stated as such, presumably many of Hamilton’s photographs, are featured in the exhibition.
Here’s Timothy Leary, Les Levine, Robert Anton Wilson and Brion Gysin engaging in “conversations” about Burroughs’ work:

And here’s Frank Zappa reading “The Talking Asshole” from Naked Lunch:

Preview video of the “Nova Convention” exhibition at the Red Gallery:

via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘I always hope that people will have some kind of orgasm’: Patti Smith on ‘The Tomorrow Show’

Perhaps due to the lateness of the hour that it aired, Tom Snyder’s classic Tomorrow Show, in its run on NBC from 1973 to 1982, was able to feature interviews with genuinely adventurous and sometimes even anti-commercial musicians. Perhaps Snyder’s most famous musician guest was John Lennon (and his immigration lawyer), in what turned out to be his last televised interview. His most notorious was arguably the pointlessly combative and dickish cop-out of Public Image Limited. But Snyder’s skill as an interviewer was such that he rarely had a bad interview, and his chat with Patti Smith was fantastic.

She was interviewed by Snyder in May of 1978, shortly after the release of the Patti Smith Group’s classic third LP Easter. Surprisingly, they don’t talk about the album at all—Smith was really on that night (some of her more dithering interviews from around that time remain notorious to this day), so Snyder wisely let her free-associate about creative transformation, the divine, and the things that ultimately turn a kid into an artist.

A couple chunks of the interview are missing from this clip. The first is nothing particularly mind-blowing, just a bit of intro, but without it, one does wonder what the hell is going on. I’ve transcribed the missing bits from Shout! Factory’s fantastic Tomorrow Show: Punk & New Wave DVD.

Snyder: Now here is one of the first and the most accomplished of the New Wave rock artists in this country, her name is Patti Smith. She has released three record albums so far, she’s published a book of poems and drawings, and is an accomplished concert performer. She’s in Los Angeles for a show tomorrow, and she’s really excited to be here at NBC tonight because she saw where the stars park their cars.

Smith: Johnny Carson! I didn’t say all the stars, just Johnny Carson.

The second missing bit, however, is much longer and more illuminating. This belongs at about 6:33, after the fade-to-commercial, before the big glitch:

Snyder: Patti Smith will be at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium tomorrow night. I went through your book of poetry before we did this tonight, and I was interested in your, uh, what do they call it, dedication—“This book is dedicated to the future.”

Smith: Oh, and it’s got a little picture of me and my sister on Easter when we were little girls?

Snyder: Yeah, two little kids. What do you want the future to be like?

Smith: I want the future to be like, I just want it to be an open space for children. I mean to me, the future is children. When I was younger, first I wanted to be a missionary, then I wanted to be a schoolteacher, I just couldn’t get through all the dogma and I couldn’t really integrate all the rules and regulations of those professions into like my lifestyle, and into the generation that I was part of. And the really great thing about doing the work that I’m doing now, I have all the ideals that I ever had, to like communicate to children, or to people in general, to everybody, and to communicate with my creator. I can do everything, all the perverse ends of it and also, you know, all the innocence, it’s all inherent in the form that I’m doing. But I just like, I think that we’re really so lucky, to be alive and to be on this planet, and after going all over the world, really, America’s a really great country. We’re really lucky to be here, but also, there’s a lot of things that we have to fight for. This country was built on freedom, freedom of speech, and it is a very rich country, Capitalist and all that kind of stuff, that is true I suppose, but what we have to work on is refocusing our energies.

Snyder: How about “Redefining our priorities?”

Smith: Yeah, that’s a good one. We have nature, we have life, we have breath, we have so many chances we can take…


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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