Patti Smith on Bookworm

In case you missed this, here’s a link to Michael Silverblatt’s conversation with Patti Smith on KCRW’s Bookworm. Their conversation was divided into two parts: Part I and Part II.

In the second segment, she talks about how she was offered a record contract after her first performance at St. Mark’s and she refused it. She didn’t feel like she was ready and she didn’t want some record company telling her what to do and how to be. At the time, she happened to be reading the biography of Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse knew he would prosper in battle as long as he did not linger to take spoils, and he had lightning bolts tattooed on his horses’ ears to remind himself of this. To remind himself to keep going. Smith was still finding her way as an artist, and she knew that no amount of money or public attention was worth having someone else form her. So she refused the record contract, which is quite a bold move considering she was living on lettuce soup at the time. Smith puts it very eloquently:

No amount of fame or fortune is worth compromising oneself because in the end all you’re left with are your deeds, how you carry yourself and your work. Everything else will fall away.


~ by Valerie Palmer on April 21, 2010.

3 Responses to “Patti Smith on Bookworm”

  1. She was on Democracy NOW this morning and said something pretty similar. Thanks for the link.

  2. […] a story behind that lightening bolt tattooed on Patti Smith’s knee. A couple of years ago, she summed […]

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