This past Saturday I had the sheer pleasure of being entertained, nay mesmerized by the immortal Patti Smith who with her charm, brazen demeanor and gun ho lyrics enthralled a captive audience who had come to support the American Folk Art Museum. A benefit in part to raise funds for the gallery that we here at Scallywag and Vagabond have come to adore, it was also part homage birthday commemorative to legendary writer and artist Henry Darger (whose work the museum is currently showcasing).
To be honest this author had never seen Patti Smith play live before, although he had been fortunate one afternoon to exchange intrigue with her as we both marveled at a new work on loan to the Met supposedly created by Michelangelo. Something back then should have warned this author that Ms Smith has a devout and keen affinity for the journey of the artist and the clarity of that journey. Something she indeed hashed on before belting out a sobering melody dedicated to the writer/poet William Blake– whom one suspects amongst other writers she revers. In another song the audience was visibly on edge as she chased some imaginary lover back into her life who could not fathom the burden of their being, to say that everyone in that room was overwhelmed and visibly shaken would be an understatement. To say this woman is an iconic legend is to deny that she is also a tormented soul that has tested the depths of her being and found solace in the lyrics that assuage and shock the listener’s senses.