05 Apr, 2017

patti smith: use your voice!

Sehba Sarwar
05 Apr, 2017

2010: Patti Smith with me at KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM; photo by Burnell McCray. Listen to interview here

“I was on my way to Australia,” Patti Smith tells her fans, assembled at Los Angeles’ Teregram club. “And I thought, why not stop in LA? I hate long flights.” Because she’s only stopping off in LA, Patti tells us that the night’s show Horsin’ Around is informal, and that she and her Band, including legendary guitarist Lenny Kaye, will be “horsin’ around.”

But Patti’s performance is as classy as always: The night includes a mix of her own verses—“Dancin’ Barefoot,” “Redondo Beach,” “Blakean Years,” “Horses” and many more—mixed with political commentary, sing-alongs, and Dylan and Lou Reed songs.

To a crowd that cheers as she speaks, Patti doesn’t need to explain who she’s talking about when she says: “I knew him when he was 30 years old. You know, some people improve with age. His shit just expanded.” Still not naming her subject, she tells us that she doesn’t twitter, so she’s offering all her tweets to us in person.

Laughing about aging, Patti reminds the crowd that she and Lenny are both 70 years old, and that she now can repeat stories (which she doesn’t) just like her mother once did, and she talks about how her upper lip hair that once resembled Frida Kahlo’s has gravitated to her chin. “Goat hair!” she laughs.

For the encore, Smith, Kaye and her Band reappear on stage with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry to perform her classic “People Have the Power.” Reminding her fans to fill the streets and march with our hands empty and arms raised, she calls out: “Use your voice!”

In 2003, I met Patti at La Guardia Airport the day after a New York City protest against the US invasion of Iraq. I went on to interview Patti for KPFT 90.1 FM Pacifica Radio, and seven years later, she accepted my invitation to fly to Houston and read from her award-winning memoir Just Kids and perform her music.

05 Apr 2017 · 09:35:45 AM