Read the transcript here arrow up arrow down
Do you still know them?
I still have their old records.
Patti Smith - rock and roll idol of the 70s.
She then interrupted her career for decades to raise their two children with her husband, guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith.
Her husband has since died, the children have grown up and now Patti appears again and sings.
She is now 70. Now she looks something like this, still beautiful, you might be 70 then.
It's already slightly over it.
And she writes books along her life.
Small, narrow memory books.
The first was about her time with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, back in New York, that is, "Just Kids".
Then she wrote "M Train", one about her life with her husband, the guitarist.
And now a book, published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch, "In the year of the monkey".
The year of the monkey, according to the Chinese horoscope, was 2016, the year Patti Smith turned 70.
And she went off as always, small luggage, backpack, laundry in there, a few books, thick hiking shoes and flew, traveled and drove all over America, but also to Europe.
She has visited friends; in this book she worries about old age, about losses.
She visits Sam Sheppard, her friend, the writer and actor who has since died too.
She helps him with his last texts.
Friendship is very important to them.
And she writes down what she sees on the way and thinks about how it is now that she herself is suddenly getting old.
She mostly drives with people who somehow take her with them, for a little bit of participation, for a few dollars.
And there she has a wonderful story: she meets a couple with a completely dirty car.
But they're going to San Diego, an eight-hour drive.
And they say: "We'll take you with us, but not speak a single word."
And now she's in this car, and they play wonderful music on the car radio and with tapes.
And at some point Patti says: "Wow, that's great music."
And they stop immediately, in the middle of the highway, put them out and say, "We said not to speak."
Well, there are weird things in this book.
And she writes a lot about getting old.
And here I would like to read a small excerpt from you: "Nothing can stop time or shake the fact that in the year of the monkey I would be 70. 70, just a number, but one that shows how the allocated sand through the egg timer runs and you're the darned egg. As the grains trickle down, I find myself missing the dead more than I used to. I find that I cry more often when I see love scenes on TV. A retired detective, shot in the back while looking out to sea, or a tired father lifting his child out of bed. I notice that tears sting my eyes, that I'm no longer a fast runner and that my sense of time is changing accelerated. "
You can't really write more beautifully about getting old.
She is a poetic dreamer, but she is thoroughly networked in reality.
She calls Donald Trump one, I want to quote it exactly: "An unbearable, yellow-haired impostor and his choice a terrible soap opera."
But that's the most realistic thing about these rather dreamy texts.
She says: "The bad thing about dreams is that you just have to wake up at some point."
Patti Smith sees the real world quite well, even if she always tries to turn the news off very quickly when it comes on the radio.
But she is at home in the world of music, poetry, friendship.
And her book is like a consolation on a wound that life strikes us every day.
The lyrics are very poetic, very dreamy, sometimes a bit puzzling, but never sentimental, never cheesy.
And she says, "My husband is dead. My mother is dead. My brother is dead. My cat is dead. My dog died in 1957 and is still dead. And yet I keep hoping that something wonderful will happen. Maybe tomorrow . "
But hope cannot be that great, because she precedes her book with a quote from Antonin Artaud: "A deadly folly comes upon the world."
This deadly folly, I believe, has long been there.
But with books like this one can be a bit of comfort.