Patti Smith Does The Paradiso

Mar 17, 2016 | Inspiration, Music, Reviews, Writing

First off, it’s not called the Paradisio. It’s the Paradiso.

Ok, it’s only one extra syllable, but if you know it, it’s irritating. I’m sure she knew it, or maybe it was just another one of those times when a tourist misinterprets something.

She was in a foreign country after all.

I’d like to think she just called the place what she wanted to call it.

Patti Smith is pretty outspoken.

I hadn’t been to a live performance in awhile.

That is kind of strange considering I’m a songwriter and perform regularly. I watch the other acts perform when I have a show. It’s not the same, though. I don’t pay to see them. I don’t go out of my way to see them.

They are just there.

It’s not even a quality thing. I’ve seen some underground bands playing in front of a crowd of ten people doing a better job than some world-famous acts. Patti was somehow a combination of both.

I have to admit I got a lot more than I expected, I was party to a one-off performance.

It was so good that it restored my faith in live music.

A few weeks before I had also been in the Paradiso, but under different circumstances.

It was for a book reading by T. C. Boyle.

Mr. Boyle and Ms. Smith are from the same generation. They started producing work in the seventies. They were truly out there. They were the ones who believed in the sixties and took it with them.

They still hold onto it.

They were, and still are, the counter-culture. They are also one generation later than my parents, well, they are almost from the same generation.

Generation gap?

I had expected Patti to be boring.

I thought she was a self-indulgent street poet. I didn’t think she could reach me, she did.

I realised she has some of the greatest lines in rock and roll. Lines which you take for granted but which someone had to say:

  • Jesus died for somebody’s sins, not mine.
  • Because the night belongs to lovers.
  • Dancing barefoot.

She also drew from the commercial side of music. All the dance moves. Do you want to do the Pony?

I saw that she had combined it all and made her own point of view.

She yelled her viewpoint from the stage: Freedom mother #@$%ers! Love mother #@$&ers!

Here was a woman who was androgynous. There were times when she sounded like a man. Her voice was low and gravelly. She had things which she did with her voice that made her…..well…her.

I was impressed.

I saw how I could do it in the same way. I saw that poetry or stories could be combined with live music. Just read something and then play a song. It’s not difficult.

That’s the answer. I have to do it, though. I have to take all my work onstage, and not just the songs. I just need to don another jacket.

Maybe that’s the first step.

Patti had a costume, she even made a joke about it. A billowing white shirt and a waistcoat. It came across as a combination of the two Jim’s, Hendrix and Morrison. I think that would also be a good way to describe her, she is the product of the two of them.

She is their love child.

They would have been her inspiration. They went before her and laid down the groundwork.

They also proclaimed peace and love.

Patti went further.

She was about freedom. Freedom through love. Not the love of Jesus. Be human, stand up for yourself. We all have the power to make a difference.

It hit me last night. We are living in a time of disillusionment.

It’s not new, though. Forty years ago there was war, now there is war. Forty years ago people were dying needlessly. Today they are still perishing in terrible ways. Nothing has changed. Governments are not standing up for the people. They are not doing what they were elected for.

It’s all about management.

Too much middle management it seems. That has been proven to be the wrong way of doing things yet countries are being run that way.

Freedom muther #&@*ers!

She spat and she cursed.

She was very unladylike.

In her twenties she could be looked down on for doing it and be fobbed off as a wild youth. Not so in her late sixties. Someone doing it at her age demands respect.

And Patti deserves respect.

Keep hammering home that message: Freedom mother #$@*ers! You have a voice, use it!

How I am going to use my voice is starting to crystallise.

I am using it, but I need to deliver a strong message. I think I know what it is.

The truth.

The uncomfortable truth.

Patti said that the Paradisio was the first place where people sang the words with her.

She remembered it well. It had left an impression. She said there is nothing greater for a songwriter, than to hear people reciting your words back at you.

I agree.

She closed with a wild rendition of My Generation. She and the band had fun with it, they were having fun all night long. They weren’t old, they were younger than most of the people in the hall.

They were celebrating every generation.

At the end of the night she was giggling like a schoolgirl. It was very honest and very human.

She apologised for not keeping it together before she was overcome with giggling again. She said that she didn’t know why she was behaving that way. She thought that maybe she was just, plainly and simply, happy.

There was a reason for that.

She was doing her thing, in her way, and people were getting a kick out of it.

That’s the greatest reward for any artist, people sharing in the joy of your creation.

Nobody should need to die for anybody’s sins.

Love and freedom mother #&@*ers!

l

Have you been inspired by anyone lately?

 

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