Posts Tagged ‘Patti Smith’

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“IVRY” is a new song with lyrics written by Patti Smith and inspired by Antonin Artaud’s time in the mental hospital in Ivry ,The song is part of our new album with Patti Smith ‘The Peyote Dance’, to be released by Bella Union on May 31st.

Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith THE PEYOTE DANCE ,The sound of walking in a Mexican canyon transforms into the distinct beat of the heart, distant chants, sticks, stones, and the whistle of blowing wind: Featuring Patti Smith, and produced in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum and Nicolas Becker a soundtrack of elements that invites us to explore a sacred space. The album takes as its starting point Antonin Artaud’s book ‘The Peyote Dance’, a work inspired by his revelatory experiences with the Rarámuri in 1936, 

Featuring original footage by Stephan Crasneanscki, Lelio Moehr and Sylvie Marchand. Courtesy, Association Temps Réel, Collectif Gigacircus, France (www.gigacircus.net/fr/) Lyrics by Patti Smith, copyright / © (2019) (Patti Smith) All music produced by Soundwalk Collective in Mexico City and NYC in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum and Nicolas Becker with original instruments from the Rarámuri Indians of the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico Voice: Patti Smith Traditional Guitars: Joel Cruz Castellanos Traditional Drums, Chapareke Snare, Chihuahua Bells: Leonardo Heiblum Foley: Nicolas Becker Recorded at Audioflot Studios in Mexico City and Hobo Sound in New Jersey

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‘Girl Crazy’ is a new collection of covers from Kyle Craft ,  After Kyle Craft wrapped up the recording of his upcoming (all originals) 2018 album, he decided to record a cover of a Jenny Lewis song for fun. This quickly spiraled into a full fledged project with Kyle recording a slew of songs by his favorite female singers.  Working with his bandmate, Kevin Clark in their home studio after hours, Craft multi-tracked all the parts himself, and what started as an idle aside became a labour of love.

 

Now Sub Pop Records and Kyle Craft have picked ten favorites from the sessions to release as Girl Crazy, a series of 2-track singles rolling out weekly starting in September.   Focusing on Craft’s acclaimed interpretive talents.

Good morning everyone, I recorded an all female artist cover album in June with my piano player, Kevin ClarkSub Pop Records decided to release them two at a time over the next 5 weeks. The first two of the series of tracks, which is called GIRL CRAZY, are Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton and Distant Fingers by Patti Smith.

Band Members
Kyle Craft- Guitar
Haven Multz- Drums
Kevin Clark- Piano
Jeremy Padot- Guitar
Ben Steinmetz- Organ
Austin Barone- Bass

Wave is an album by the Patti Smith Group, released May 17th, 1979 The title track was a tribute to Pope John Paul I, whose brief papacy coincided with the recording sessions. The first single off the album was “Frederick”, a love song for her husband-to-be Fred “Sonic” Smith with a melody and structure bearing resemblance to “Because the Night”, the group’s biggest hit. The second single, “Dancing Barefoot”, has been covered by many artists.

“Wave” is an album by the Patti Smith Group, released May 17th, 1979 on Arista Records. This album was less commercially successful than its predecessor, “Easter, although it continued the band’s move towards more radio-friendly mainstream music. It was produced by famed artist/producer Todd Rundgren.

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Artists Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe met in New York City in 1967 and were in a love affair until 1974, when Mapplethorpe realised he was homosexual. Their early years together are documented in Mapplethorpe’s intimate black-and-white portraits of Smith, two of which featured on the covers of Horses (1975) an Wave (1979). In 2011, Smith interviewed for Time, “I was his first model, a fact that fills me with pride. The photographs he took of me contain a depth of mutual love and trust inseparable from the image. His work magnifies his love for his subject and his obsession with light.” The pair remained friends, artistic collaborators and soul mates until Mapplethorpe died of Aids in 1989. The photographer also shot album covers for artists including Paul Simon and is famed for his portraits and controversial images of the underground BDSM scene in the late 1960s and 70s.

The title track was a tribute to Pope John Paul I, whose brief papacy coincided with the recording sessions. The first single off the album was Frederick, a love song for her husband-to-be Fred Sonic Smith with a melody and structure bearing resemblance to “Because The Night” , the group’s biggest hit. The second single, “Dancing Barefoot”, has been covered by many artists.

The band broke up after this album was released, and Smith went on to marry Fred Smith. She spent many years in semi-retirement following the birth of their children, Jesse and Jackson, until her 1988 solo comeback album, “Dream Of Life” . The 1996 remaster of Wave includes Smith’s original version of “Fire of Unknown Origin.” Blue Öyster Cult‘s version was released on their album of the same name in 1981. The back cover of the original LP bore a quote from the Jean Genet poem, “Le Condamné à mort:”

Oh go through the walls; if you must, walk on the ledges
Of roofs, of oceans; cover yourself with light;
Use menace, use prayer…
My sleepers will flee toward another America

Upon its release in 1979, the album garnered mixed reviews, attracting either positive or negative commentary on its polished production and conventionality. Reviewers  were not favourable in their reviews of the album, with the former negatively likening it to Radio Ethiopia, Smith’s last album to be critically maligned and the latter concluding her review with “is this the blandest record in the world?”.Melody Maker were more appreciative of the album, praising Rundgren’s hand in the production and considered the songs to represent a newfound focus for Smith and the band.

All songs were written by Patti Smith, except where noted.

Side one
  1. Frederick” (Patti Smith) – 3:01
  2. Dancing Barefoot” (Smith, Ivan Kral) – 4:18
  3. So you want to Be (a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star)” (Jim McGuinn, Chris Hillman) – 4:18
  4. “Hymn” (Smith, Lenny Kaye) – 1:10
  5. “Revenge” (Smith, Kral) – 5:06
Side two
  1. “Citizen Ship” (Smith, Kral) – 5:09
  2. “Seven Ways of Going” (Smith) – 5:12
  3. “Broken Flag” (Smith, Kaye) – 4:55
  4. “Wave” (Smith) – 4:55
Compact Disc bonus tracks
  1. “Fire of Unknown Origin” (Smith, Kaye) – 2:09
  2. 5-4-3-2-1 / Wave” (1979-05-23rd Live; New York) (Paul Jones, Mike Hugg, Manfred Mann) – 2:43

Patti Smith Group

Additional musicians

Patti Smith

Piss Factory” is a proto punk song written by Patti Smith and band member Richard Sohl, and released as a B-side on Smith’s debut single  “Hey Joe” in 1974. Tom Verlaine of Television contributes guitar playing on “Hey Joe”. It was included on the New Wave compilation album released on Vertigo Records in 1977, and the Just Say Yesterday Sire Records 1992 compilation album , and later reissued on the rarities compilation Land 1975-2002-2002). Recorded at the Electric Lady Studios in June 5th 1974.

In 1989, Rolling Stone writer and biographer Dave Marsh placed the song on the list of The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made.

The song originated as a poem written by Patti Smith about the time she spent working in a baby buggy factory, expressing her assurance that she would not let the experience kill her ambitions.

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She’d been a New Yorker since moving to the city in 1967, aged 21. She had a child that she gave up for adoption, met and started a relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe – with whom she shared a room at the infamous Chelsea Hotel for some time – and she discovered the work of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud. She appeared in Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis’s play Femme Fatale with Wayne County, and – for one night only – in Cowboy Mouth which she co-wrote with Sam Shepherd. She was considered for the role of lead vocalist in Blue Oyster Cult, but instead contributed lyrics to many of the band’s songs, and she started a relationship with BOC keyboardist Alan Lanier. She contributed articles to rock journals Rolling Stone and Creem. By 1974 she was performing rock music herself, initially with guitarist, bassist and rock archivist Lenny Kaye, and later with a full band comprising Kaye, Ivan Kral on guitar and bass, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Richard Sohl on piano. The group released the self-financed single ‘Hey Joe’/’Piss Factory’ the same year and in 1975 recorded their debut album “Horses” for the label to which they were by then signed, Arista; the album was released in December ’75 to near unanimous high praise. Two months later, on February 15th 1976, the group played at the Boarding House in San Francisco – a performance which was broadcast live on FM radio. This CD captures this concert in its entirety and illustrates perfectly the strange power of this pioneering band and its dynamic, talented and foresighted lead singer and main songwriter. 1976 was also the year that the United States of America celebrated 200 years of independence from the British Empire, a celebration that culminated on July 4th – the date in 1776 on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Whether or not this event had any impact or bearing on Patti Smith is not recorded.

 

A few months on from the arrival of her epic Horses album and Patti Smith is on stage in San Francisco. It is February 1976 and a seminal sonic storm is starting to soar. Bicentenary Blues released on Good Ship Funke has Patti display positive elements from her own catalogue but she honours those forces that helped shape this aural assault. That means that this performance CD originally recorded for FM Radio also has Smith cover tunes by the likes of The Who, Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones.
The sound quality is not always of a superior nature but there is no doubt the intentions are honourable. Smith is spearheading a new breed but these fresh faces are taking their lead from a series of rock n roll rebels in order to carve their own niche for a new generation. There are several highs and of particular impact is the reggae tinged self penned Redondo Beach (later to be covered by Morrissey) and the ferocious Free Money (which also became a Penetration favourite). However, a poetic interlude has the gig take its foot off the pedal before a barnstorming close of Gloria Part 1 & 2 plus My Generation.
To capture the mood of a potent past influencing a powerful present this work is a fine representation of a changing sonic landscape. Punk and its urban cry is a developing genre and on either side of the Atlantic there is major movement in the direction of dissent towards the establishment. This is a warts and all example of a spirit that was to alter the balance of order and send shockwaves amongst the hierarchy.

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The song “Gloria” is built on just three chords that any garage band can play and that almost every garage band has. Yet the list of artists who have covered this tune include many bands Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, David Bowie, R.E.M., Iggy Pop, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello..even. Bill Murray strapped on a guitar and played it at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, the Grateful Dead used to jam on it, and it might be the only song that Jon Bon Jovi and Johnny Thunders have in common.

How has such a minimal song have had such a huge impact? Why does it still reverberate today, in arenas, at festivals, in bars and studios? And how did Gloria become such a resilient classic rock tune. Written more than fifty years ago by Van Morrison for his band Them , the story the song tells couldn’t be more archetypal: the singer (usually but not always male) knows this girl and he’s eager to tell us about her, but he doesn’t share much in the way of detail. She comes down the street, up to a room, knocks on a door, enters, makes the singer extremely happy.

She is, nearly all the time, about five feet, four inches tall (on the original demo, she was five feet). As physical descriptions go, that’s at once very specific and very incomplete. Dark-haired or light, curvy or slender, who knows? At just about midnight, she appears. There is, we can assume, something sensual about the way she moves, because the song itself slithers with an air of hypnotic mystery, those three chords (E-D-A) setting the scene.

The Shadows of Knight, version clocked in at a tidy two and a half minutes, but that was too constricting for other groups like the Hangmen, the Blues Magoos, and the Amboy Dukes, all of whom easily exceeded the five-minute mark and turned it into early psychedelic-rock classic.

On the debut studio recording by Them, Van Morrison takes the listener into his confidence, and it’s a little like bragging, He wants to tell us about his baby (on the demo, she’s his “gal”), but aside from her head-to-the-ground measurement, he doesn’t tell us much more. She makes him feel good. Also for some reason, he feels compelled to spell out her name before he says it, “G-L-O-R-I-A,” as though it were something exotic or complicated. so she does whatever she does with Van, and instead of describing what that might be, he spells her name out again. He wants to make sure we get that name right, This woman who’s about five feet, four inches, and her name is G-L-O-R-I-A.

“Gloria” was cut at Decca’s studio in West Hempstead in the summer of 1964, the first Them session. Them had been doing the song live for a while in Ireland clubs, but from all reports, they were not the most adept musicians in the studio, so the producer brought in some ringers, and here’s where the saga of “Gloria” gets a little fuzzy. It’s pretty clear from the audio evidence—compare the demo’s sluggish drumming to the finished studio version—that London’s top session drummer Bobby Graham was recruited. Graham told an interviewer for the Independent that Morrison “was really hostile as he didn’t want session men at his recordings. He calmed down but he didn’t like it.” In addition to Graham, The guitar playing was none other than Jimmy Page , Page: “It was very embarrassing on the Them sessions. With each song, another member of the band would be replaced by a session player…Talk about daggers! You’d be sitting there, wishing you hadn’t been booked.”

There’s something so compelling about the record, the rawness, the sudden startling instrumental leap midway through, Morrison’s intensity, the erotic momentum, the flurry of drums at the end. It was the sexiest thing. And it was stuck on a B-side, It was the flip side of Them’s second U.K. single “Baby Please Don’t Go In England, “Baby Please Don’t Go” charted at numer 10. In America, it was released on Parrot Records, But it was  “Gloria” that got a bit of attention, it was like that with “Gloria” it wasn’t a hit, but all around the world, local bands who discovered it found a Holy Grail. How many group rehearsals everywhere began with “Let’s try ‘Gloria’?” If you hadn’t been playing guitar for very long, this was an instant entry-level classic, and if you were playing gigs and didn’t have many songs in your live arsenal, you could stretch out on “Gloria” for a while, just keep that going. If you had a kid on Vox organ in your combo, it sounded even better.

 

Part of the brilliance of “Gloria” is in its vagueness and ambiguity. It feels explicit, but that’s a trick. The whole song is an ellipsis. Gloria the object of desire, someone who makes it all so easy: she comes up to your room, raps at your door (at a Bottom Line gig years ago, T Bone Burnett compared her knock to the drum beat of Al Jackson Jr. from the M.G.’s), no pining, no scheming. we don’t know if Gloria’s night ends satisfactorily.) The narrative is a sketch, but over the years, some of its interpreters have felt compelled to flesh it out. Leave it to Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix to make the goings-on considerably more graphic. It was a part of the Doors’s set since their early days on the L.A. club circuit (you can hear how the dynamics of “Gloria” got appropriated for the “Light My Fire” climax, the American Morrison went much further in his on-stage embellishments, some of which came out officially on posthumous Doors releases. He addresses Gloria directly, and sometimes there’s a predatory creepiness: “Meet me at the graveyard, meet me after school.” On one released version, he yells, “Here she is in my room, oh boy!” and for nine minutes it’s like a cautionary after-school special: her dad is at work, her mom is out shopping, and he’s giving her instruction: “Wrap your legs around my neck/Wrap your arms around my feet/Wrap your hair around my skin.” He continues  “Hey, what’s your name, how old are you, where’d you go to school?” What’s her name? Is he missing the whole point of this song? here.

Not to be outdone, Jimi Hendrix, on a slamming off the cuff version with the Experience from October 1968, also asks her name she replies (he says), “It don’t make no difference anyway…You can call me Gloria.” Is she a call girl? (That would explain the midnight knocking.) A groupie? More likely. Hendrix mentions that Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding also have “Gloria”s, and there is some kind of “scene” going on that involves the arrival of a pot dealer and, subsequently, the police. “Gloria, get off my chest,” Jimi says. “We gotta get out of here.” Meanwhile, he’s playing some amazing guitar, and Mitchell is just on fire, and the song is a long way from its beginnings with Them.

The song still belonged to Van Morrison, who has had a notoriously ambivalent relationship with some of his earlier hits, but he has almost always stuck with “Gloria” it’s on his landmark live album “Its Too Late To Stop Now”, and he’s revisited it over and over through the years, on record with John Lee Hooker, live with U2 (who not only have done Morrison’s version, but wrote their own song called “Gloria”) and Elvis Costello, on TV with Jools Holland’s big band. But in 1975, Patti Smith found a way to radically reinterpret it by incorporating it into the lead track from her debut album “Horses”. The cut is in two parts, the first part “In Excelsis Deo” starts off with a stark statement of intent  “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” and keeps building and building until Smith through a window, sees a “sweet young thing,” and she’s transfixed. It’s almost unbearably tense, the way Patti’s group coils around the melody, the rising excitement in her voice. It’s midnight (naturally: that’s when this always happens), and the woman comes up the stairs in “a pretty red dress” and knocks on the door, and you don’t even realize it, but the song is sneakily turning into Van Morrison’s: Patti asks the girl’s name. “And her name is…and her name is…and her name is…G…” you know the rest. With this performance, Patti’s done two things. She’s made a breathtaking breakthrough that’s completely new, and connected it with rock tradition (her guitarist Lenny Kaye is steeped in the era of “Gloria,” and compiled the essential garage-rock collection Nuggets). It was a tremendous cultural moment.

Nothing has been able to stop “Gloria” because the song is whatever it needs to be. It’s remained a rock staple. Iggy Pop  has done it live  (and singing “I-G-G-Y-P-O-P”), Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash band the 101’ers had it in their repertoire and so did Bon Scott’s group the Spektors,  On his 1978 tour, Bruce Springsteen often would include it as part of a medley with “She’s The One” and sometimes “Not Fade Away.” R.E.M. was performing it in the eighties, and so was David Bowie, in conjunction with his own “The Jean Genie” .

Some more recent live interpretations stand out. Rickie Lee Jones starts to play it, and after about a minute and a half, it turns into a reminiscence. The band keeps on riffing on those three chords, those chords that give the singer all the freedom in the world to amplify, to comment, to reflect. “I was twelve when this song came out,” she says, “and I have never forgotten, I would never forget, that’s why I will never get old, what it felt like to me as he described this [and here she pauses] girl.” “I’m gonna shout it all night, gonna shout it every day,” the song goes, and if you were around twelve years old when it came out, as Rickie Lee was, or you were more like fifteen or sixteen, as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty were, that shout of ecstasy was something that made possibilities open up for you. And that’s why Springsteen (who introduced it at a 2008 show by saying “Bring it back to where it all started! Follow me boys!”) and Petty can’t stop going back to it. It probably was where it all started, in their nascent rocking days.

Tom Petty makes it almost like a prequel. It became a set-piece for him and his band the Heartbreakers in the late nineties, played the song several times on his Highway Companion Tour in 2006, and he closed most of the shows with it during his twenty-night run at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco in 1997.  Up to this century, and there are versions floating around, from German TV, from Bonnaroo, where he unspools a story about walking on an uptown street and approaching this woman: “Don’t walk so fast,” he tells her. “I’m a true believer and I loved you at first sight.” She spurns him, she bolts (in one version, she tells him he smells like marijuana), and he’s getting nowhere.

Like Springsteen in the song “Rosalita”  he plays the only card he has. “I got this little rock and roll band,” he says. “Things are going good.” We don’t know what happens, ultimately, except this: all he wants to know is her name, this tiny shred of information. And suddenly, he hears it. Not from her, but from the wind. The wind began to sing her name. At this point, Petty’s audience knows what its part is, and the band has been patiently waiting for this eruptive moment, and like a huge gust of wind, the name rises up from the crowd, louder and louder: “Gloria!” Because even five decades after she first appeared, there’s no one anywhere who doesn’t know who she is, and the power she has.

Bob Dylan admitted he was stunned and surprised when he was told he had won a Nobel prize because he had never stopped to consider whether his songs were literature.

Dylan, whose speech was read out by the US ambassador to Sweden at the annual awards dinner, said the prize was “something I never could have imagined or seen coming”.

He said from an early age he had read and absorbed the works of past winners and giants of literature such as Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus and Hemingway. But said it was “truly beyond words” that he was joining those names on the winners list. “If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon,” he wrote.

The announcement that Dylan had won the literature prize caused controversy with critics arguing his lyrics were not literature. On learning he had been awarded the literature prize Dylan said he thought of Shakespeare. “When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: ‘Who’re the right actors for these roles? How should this be staged? Do I really want to set this in Denmark?’

“His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. ‘Is the financing in place? Are there enough good seats for my patrons? Where am I going to get a human skull?’ I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question: ‘Is this literature?’

“Like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavours and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. ‘Who are the best musicians for these songs? Am I recording in the right studio? Is this song in the right key?’ Some things never change, even in 400 years. Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself ‘are my songs literature?’ So, I do thank the Swedish academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question and ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.”

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Formally presenting the award Horace Engdahl, a Swedish literary critic and member of the Swedish academy behind the prize, responded to international criticism of the choice of a popular lyricist as recipient. In defence of the decision, Engdahl said that when Dylan’s songs were heard first in the 1960s: “All of a sudden, much of the bookish poetry in our world felt anaemic.” The academy’s choice of Dylan, Engdahl added, speaking in Swedish, “seemed daring only beforehand and already seems obvious”.

And it was an unconventional prize-giving night in more ways than one. Dylan’s failure to attend the august gathering in Stockholm meant that Patti Smith, the American singer famous for her 1975 album Horses and the hit song Because the Night, was attending as his proxy. The occasion proved too much for the singer, 69, who faltered after a few verses.

Forgetting the lyric “I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’,” she apologised quietly but profusely to the jewel-bedecked audience and asked if she could start that section of the song again. “I am so nervous,” she explained. Smith was encouraged by applause from the gathered dignitaries and members of the Swedish royal family.

Her performance followed Engdahl’s justificatory speech, which opened with the question: “What brings about the great shifts in the world of literature? Often it is when someone seizes upon a simple, overlooked form, discounted as art in the high sense, and makes it mutate.”

In this way, Engdahl argued, the novel had once emerged from anecdote and letters, while drama had eventually derived from games and performance. “In the distant past, all poetry was sung or tunefully recited,” he said. Dylan had dedicated himself to music played for ordinary people and tried to copy it.

“But when he started to write songs, they came out differently,” Engdahl said. “He panned poetry gold, whether on purpose or by accident is irrelevant … He gave back to poetry its elevated style, lost since the romantics.”

 

When it was announced that Bob Dylan had won the prize and accepted,  In his absence, was I qualified for this task? I chose to sing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a song I have loved since I was a teen-ager, and a favorite of my late husband.

From that moment, every spare moment was spent practicing it, making certain that I knew and could convey every line. Having my own blue-eyed son, I sang the words to myself, over and over, in the original key, with pleasure and resolve. I had it in my mind to sing the song exactly as it was written and as well as I was capable of doing. I bought a new suit, I trimmed my hair, and felt that I was ready.

On the morning of the Nobel ceremony, I awoke with some anxiety. It was pouring rain and continued to rain heavily. As I dressed, I went over the song confidently. In the hotel lobby, there was a lovely Japanese woman in formal traditional dress—an embroidered cream-colored floor-length kimono and sandals. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She told me that she was there to honor her boss, who was receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine, but the weather was not in her favor. You look beautiful, I told her; no amount of wind and rain could alter that. By the time I reached the concert hall, it was snowing. I had a perfect rehearsal with the orchestra. I had my own dressing room with a piano, and I was brought tea and warm soup. I was aware that people were looking forward to the performance.

I thought of my mother, who bought me my first Dylan album when I was barely sixteen. She found it in the bargain bin at the five-and-dime and bought it with her tip money. “He looked like someone you’d like,” she told me. I played the record over and over, my favorite being “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” It occurred to me then that, although I did not live in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I existed in the time of Bob Dylan. I also thought of my husband and remembered performing the song together, picturing his hands forming the chords.

And then suddenly it was time. The orchestra was arranged on the balcony overlooking the stage, where the King, the royal family, and the laureates were seated. I sat next to the conductor. The evening’s proceedings went as planned. As I sat there, I imagined laureates of the past walking toward the King to accept their medals. Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Albert Camus. Then Bob Dylan was announced as the Nobel Laureate in Literature, and I felt my heart pounding. After a moving speech dedicated to him was read, I heard my name spoken and I rose. As if in a fairy tale, I stood before the Swedish King and Queen and some of the great minds of the world, armed with a song in which every line encoded the experience and resilience of the poet who penned them.

The opening chords of the song were introduced, and I heard myself singing. The first verse was passable, a bit shaky, but I was certain I would settle. But instead I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them. From the corner of my eye, I could see the the huge boom stand of the television camera, and all the dignitaries upon the stage and the people beyond. Unaccustomed to such an overwhelming case of nerves, I was unable to continue. I hadn’t forgotten the words that were now a part of me. I was simply unable to draw them out.

This strange phenomenon did not diminish or pass but stayed cruelly with me. I was obliged to stop and ask pardon and then attempt again while in this state and sang with all my being, yet still stumbling. It was not lost on me that the narrative of the song begins with the words “I stumbled alongside of twelve misty mountains,” and ends with the line “And I’ll know my song well before I start singing.” As I took my seat, I felt the humiliating sting of failure, but also the strange realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived the world of the lyrics.

Later, at the Nobel banquet, I sat across from the American Ambassador—a beautiful, articulate Iranian-American. She had the task of reading a letter from Dylan before the banquet’s conclusion. She read flawlessly, and I could not help thinking that he had two strong women in his corner. One who faltered and one who did not, yet both had nothing in mind but to serve his work well.

When I arose the next morning, it was snowing. In the breakfast room, I was greeted by many of the Nobel scientists. They showed appreciation for my very public struggle. They told me I did a good job. I wish I would have done better, I said. No, no, they replied, none of us wish that. For us, your performance seemed a metaphor for our own struggles. Words of kindness continued through the day, and in the end I had to come to terms with the truer nature of my duty. Why do we commit our work? Why do we perform? It is above all for the entertainment and transformation of the people. It is all for them. The song asked for nothing. The creator of the song asked for nothing. So why should I ask for anything?

When my husband, Fred, died, my father told me that time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them. I have found this to be true in the greatest and smallest of matters. Looking to the future, I am certain that the hard rain will not cease falling, and that we will all need to be vigilant. The year is coming to an end; on December 30th, I will perform “Horses” with my band, and my son and daughter, in the city where I was born. And all the things I have seen and experienced and remember will be within me, and the remorse I had felt so heavily will joyfully meld with all other moments. Seventy years of moments, seventy years of being human.

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Soundwalk Collective, Jesse Paris Smith, and Patti Smith have shared a new video for “Fearfully In Danger”, taken from their upcoming collaborative album “Killer Road”, an album of reinterpretations of Nico’s songs and poetry. The album is out September 2nd on Bella Union. The video features footage of the ensemble performing the song live at Volksbühne in Berlin, and was filmed and edited by Barbara Klein.

The song, originally recorded by Nico on her final album Camera Obscura, begins with field recordings, a trademark of Soundwalk Collective’s music, before fading into a droning bed of harmonium, synthesizer, and singing bowl, with a chilling arrangement of the song’s lyrics performed by Patti Smith. It is a remarkable collaboration, showcasing not only Smith’s talent for embodying the words she’s reading but Soundwalk Collective’s talent for creating immersive soundscapes. It is a worthy tribute to the music and legacy of Nico.

A shimmering ambient tone, an electronic underlay to the lulling chatter of crickets, makes way for the unmistakable voice of Patti Smith, quietly intoning, ominously, “The killer road is waiting for you / like a finger, pointing in the night.”

Smith was already a fan of Nico’s unique performance, and her half-spoken, halfsung delivery: “that was interesting and instructive for me when I was young because I had no ambition to be a singer – I was simply trying to deliver my poetry – as she did – in a unique way,” Patti Smith was able to repay the spiritual debt by paying to rescue Nico’s beloved harmonium – which underpinned so much of her work – from the pawnshop in 1978.

And that lonesome drone of Nico’s harmonium makes a late appearance in Killer Road, as part of the haunting electro-organic weave, like an aural heatwave, pulsing and sweltering. Sometimes you hear ocean waves and footsteps, or the thrum of honeybees; the panoply of sound subtly shifts as Nico’s view would have changed as she cycled that day. But then she had a heart attack, fell and hit her head, and was lying by the sound of the road, to a backdrop of crickets, before she was discovered and taken to hospital, only to pass on later that night. “That captivated me,” said Smith, “the idea of merging her language with what was perhaps the last sound she might have heard, besides her own breathing.”

Behind the music and concept of Killer Road is international trio Soundwalk Collective – Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi – who, alongside Patti Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris, conceived an immersive exploration of the tragic death of Christa Päffgen. Better known as Nico, the Velvet Underground chanteuse, Päffgen died while riding her bike on the island of Ibiza in the summer of 1988.

The roots of Killer Road lie in a fortuitous meeting on an airplane bound for New York. One passenger was Smith; the other was Soundwalk Collective founder Crasneanscki. Soundwalk had previously been a collaborative series of idiosyncratic walking guides to cities, before evolving into musical frameworks for field recordings and sight specific sound installations and performances using a variety of texts and themes.

Killer Road was initially a live audio-visual experience, at the French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York as part of 2014’s Crossing the Line festival. Finally, we now we have the recorded version, a poignant, profound, imaginative exploration and tribute nearly 30 years after that fateful summer’s day.

Killer Road will be released September 2nd 2016 via Bella Union.

Fearfully in Danger (Live at Volksbühne, Berlin) from the album “Killer Road – A Tribute To Nico”
Killer Road is a sound exploration of the tragic death of Nico, Velvet Underground vocalist and 60s icon.

Patti Smith Avant-Garde Nico Tribute 'Killer Road'

Patti Smith performed a unique and mysterious tribute to late singer Nico two years ago with ambient backing music from her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, and a trio called Soundwalk Collective. It featured sounds from Nico’s own harmonium and sounds that approximate what the former Velvet Underground collaborator might have heard when she collapsed while bicycling in Ibiza in 1988, an event that preceded her death in a hospital later that day. Now Smith’s morbid homage, “Killer Road” – culled from Nico’s poetry – is getting a proper release on Soundwalk Collective’s Killer Road album, due out September 2nd.

The four-and-a-half-minute–track opens with bug-like sounds that give way to chilly, sighing atmospherics. “The killer road is waiting for you,” Smith speaks, “like a finger, pointing in the night … Who’s to blame?” She whispers, “I have come to die with you,” as new sound effects and field recordings crescendo around her.

The Smiths and the Soundwalk Collective first performed the work as part of the Crossing the Line festival at the French Institute Alliance Française in 2014. Nine tracks appear on the Killer Road LP, each containing Nico’s poetry.

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Nico once recalled apprehension when thinking about her first impressions of Smith. “The first time I ever saw Patti was at Andy’s,” she said, according to Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story. “She was skinny, like a rat, but she was from New Jersey and so was Lou [Reed], so that was all right. She didn’t speak much; she just stood and watched the people. I don’t know if I even knew her name.”

She’d later go on to praise Smith: “She was a female Leonard Cohen when she moved from writing to singing, and I liked her because she was thin and strong.”

Smith later played an important role in Nico’s life, buying back the singer’s harmonium at “an obscure shop” in Paris, as Nico put it, after it had gone missing. “I was so happy and ashamed,” Nico recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll give you back the money when I get it,’ but she insisted the organ was a present … I cried.” Nico would play the harmonium again on her final album, 1985’s Camera Obscura.

Jen Cloher (left) and Courtney Barnett admit to feeling a little nervous about taking on <i>Horses</i>.

It’s a shame Patti Smith left Australia off the schedule when planning her Horses 40th anniversary tour, but then again, it would have meant that the pearl of this year’s Melbourne Festival program, a tribute concert performed by Jen Cloher, Courtney Barnett, Adalita Srsen and Gareth Liddiard,

So appealing was the idea of four of our finest musicians interpreting Smith’s landmark proto-punk debut, organisers had to add a second matinee show to next Sunday’s performance at Melbourne Town Hall.

It was Cloher who came up with the idea after attending a tribute to the Beatles’ White Album at Hamer Hall last year,  “It was packed to the rafters, I was like, ‘wow’, but I also thought it would be so good to do an album by a woman,” says Cloher.
“And when you think about iconic rock ‘n’ roll albums by women, there are iconic albums out there but I think Horses is considered one of the great rock ‘n’ roll albums.” .Barnett wasn’t so willing to go to that place until recently. She recalls considering covering Horses for the Summer of Classic Albums series hosted by St Kilda’s Pure Pop Records last year. After a closer look at Smith’s lyrics, she chose INXS’ Kick instead.

“I also think that’s why that album is so famous and why Patti is so famous within that world of rock ‘n’ and roll, because she does invest her entire being when she’s on stage performing, she doesn’t hold anything back.”

Nothing like a dramatically lit pipe organ to imbue a classic rock recital with portent. It felt like a cathedral we’d packed to the balconies as the first, slow piano chords began cycling and Adalita​ paced the stage to intone Patti Smith’s immortal opening line. “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.”

By accident and/or osmosis, Adalita’s booming timbre struck an uncanny resonance with the hellfire stridency of Smith’s Gloria as she stalked and glowered in skirt, boots and bracing command.

Hunched by contrast in grunge flannel and jeans, Courtney Barnett howled Redondo Beach at her own distinctively defiant pitch, with the schoolyard-scrap indignation that makes her such a compelling one-off.

Gareth Liddiard​’s advantages included a guitar and premeditated chemistry with fellow Drones Dan Luscombe and Steve Hesketh, but most of all a song that fit his shredded larynx like he’d gargled it as a baby: Birdland erupted in slashing waves as he threw every sinew into living its shamanistic dream.

Speaking of commitment, Jen Cloher​ had the toughest part and maybe the most triumphant with the escalating palpitations of Land, its long lines delivered as faithful homage but with an air of exaltation that was all her own.

An all-in thrash through My Generation threw a last can of fuel on an act of slow combustion that felt like it had been simmering for 40 years.

Performed by Gareth Liddiard
Guitar – Dan Luscombe
Drums – Jen Sholakis
Bass – Ben Bourke
Keys – Stevie Hesketh


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