Patti Smith

America's Punk Rock Rhapsodist

By (author) Eric Wendell

Hardback - £38.00

Publication date:

06 November 2014

Length of book:

206 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780810886902

Nicknamed the “Godmother of Punk,” Patti Smith rose to fame during the 1970s New York counterculture movement where she welcomed a new breed of rock and roll. Smith sanctioned the presence of a strong-willed woman in the mainstream rock community by breaking not only the fragile glass ceiling, but also the “rules” about women on the rock stage. Smith pushed right up to the front of the punk scene, stripping down sexual, religious, and emotional barriers to create a raw, viscerally personal message.

In Patti Smith: America’s Punk Rock Rhapsodist, musician and historian Eric Wendell delves into the volatile mix of religious upbringing and musical and literary influences that gave shape to Smith’s lyrics, music, and artistic output. Wendell explores how Smith’s androgynous stage presence pulled the various societal triggers, adding a new layer of meaning to popular music performance. Songwriter and singer, performance artist and poet, Smith created work that drew together biography, history, and music into a powerful collage of an artist who shaped a generation of musicians.

For poets and performers, as well as fans of Patti Smith and punk rock history, Patti Smith: America’s Punk Rock Rhapsodist is the perfect introduction to Smith’s achievements and the politics and art of a generation that is still felt.
Quintessential female punk rocker. Poet. Guitarist. Feminist hero. And a National Book Award–winner for her memoir, Just Kids (2010), Patti Smith grew up as a tomboy with a lyrical bent, discovered rock and roll at age seven when she first saw Little Richard, and has used religion her mother was a Jehovah’s Witness, her father an ardent but 'open-minded' atheist—as her most fundamental foundation. Wendell points out that her musical influences range from the obvious (Dylan) to the surprising (her vocal style comes from Hank Williams). He chronicles her life as she moves from New Jersey to New York, explores her friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, examines the impact living at the infamous Chelsea Hotel had on her artistic evolution, and looks at her early performances on the New York underground scene, where she rubbed shoulders with everyone from Andy Warhol to Lou Reed. He also offers critical observations on her recording output, from her critically acclaimed first album, Horses, onward. An excellent look at a premiere, multitalented artist.