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Art, admiration, respect and love for music: what can be learned from Patti Smith and Bob Dylan's relationship

2022-06-21T12:17:55.578Z

Both maintain a powerful friendship that speaks of the greatness of a way of understanding musical art and the beauty of life that does not fit the current logic of the times.



Patti Smith and Bob Dylan have known each other since 1975, and their powerful friendship is arguably an example of something bigger than the world we inhabit every day.

Greatness, as a word that keeps all its deep meaning and not as a cliché, is always complex and, it is already known, that the complex is usually reduced, ridiculed and even vilified in a world moved by the empire of capital, post-truth and the noise of social networks.

Complexity is always the enemy of ignorance.

Patti Smith has just offered some fabulous concerts in Spain, which remind us that her figure in

rock'n'roll

is also something bigger than what we are used to seeing on stage.

Concerts in which she also recovers songs from her friend Bob, like that simple and emotional

One Too Many Mornings,

composed by a very young Dylan who had just arrived in New York in the early sixties.

That Bob Dylan, who left everything in Minnesota to meet a sick Woody Guthrie and start his career as a musician in Greenwich Village, was the example that a very young Patti Smith had when she left everything in New Jersey and also went to live in Greenwich Village.

Bob and Patti are two examples of two people dedicated to the cause of music.

Two people who determinedly pursued what they believed in, a territory very different from the one pushed by their family circles, friends and, ultimately, an entire society.

They pursued it and they succeeded: they reached the territory of art.

Both of them not only lived as musicians, but also ended up being two great ambassadors of that territory, so diminishing in our days in which culture and the humanities are more irrelevant every year and are more damaged by all kinds of interests, social mechanics and poor thoughts.

The thing is so serious that only the last example that I have come across in my life is enough: the student who has obtained the highest grade in the Selectivity in the Community of Madrid has decided to study Classical Philology by vocation and has been showered with derogatory and critical comments in social networks before his decision.

The kid said that he was chosen because it makes him happy to study that career and they have thrown him on top for not being an engineer, state attorney, banker or anything else profitable in this world we inhabit.

Patti and Bob also inhabit our world, although they seem to belong to another and, as Dylan acknowledged in his last interview about his latest album, published in

The New York Times,

he is aware that his world was “obsolete”.

Not only are their worlds obsolete and both are characters from another era, but what they represent hardly matters these days.

They represent a commitment to the art of music and to a profession that, in its essence, has more to do with the value of the sung word than with the giant screens and pyrotechnics of a major festival.

Their friendship, therefore, also represents something more transcendental than many can even imagine.

Patti and Bob met in 1975 when the musician went to see her after a concert at The Bitter End, a club in New York.

She, a 29-year-old poet involved in

rock'n'roll

, was the great sensation of New York where punk was hatching, and he, at 34, was the great countercultural star who separated himself from everything by his own decision.

As Patti has recalled on occasion, it was an unlucky encounter.

Bob, who was impossible to see at a function or event in the entire city, walked into the dressing room and asked, "Are there any poets around here?"

And she answered: “I hate poetry!”

Many decades later, Patti herself acknowledged that she behaved like a high school girl who really likes a boy she admires and, when he approaches her to talk to her, she pretends that she is not interested.

As many musicians have also recognized, Patti has said that the corporeal Dylan can never be separated from the mythical Dylan.

The person and the legend merge in a being that, from his conscience and arrogance, shows gestures, movements and silences that always have a strange and definitive force.

That played a trick on her.

Still, Bob, who was hurrying through a crowd of people in that dressing room, took it in stride and didn't think much of it either.

Days later, the two were photographed laughing at a private party and she even teased him to get away from her when they went to take a photo together.

The photo came out spontaneous and authentic.

Since then, something important happened between them: they admired each other.

It's hard to be friends with Bob Dylan when he's such an elusive character to everyone, including his closest entourage, but Patti Smith pulled it off.

During those first years of friendship, Patti has said that she used to meet Dylan to walk around New York and on their walks aimlessly commenting on all kinds of things.

And something that is learned more or less early in this life, if you are not an orangutan, is that chatting with someone while walking is more than just a good fuck.

Patti and Bob became very close.

In 1994, Patti lost her husband Fred

Sonic

Smith, a former member of the band MC5, and shortly after her brother.

Patti fell into depression.

There are things that should be remembered: Patti had given up songwriting and much of her artist life in the 1980s and 1990s to pursue her family life with Fred and raising her two children.

Even when Fred and his brother died, she was affected by the death in 1989 of her other great love, Robert Mapplethorpe, lover, partner, friend, confidant and everything one can dream of a person in those years in which she She left everything to live in New York following the model of Bob Dylan, as she herself recounted in detail and love in

We were children

, a delightful book that took 10 years to write.

One day in the midst of depression, Patti received a call.

It was Bob Dylan.

She called her friend to accompany her on a series of concerts around the United States.

I always like to remember this story with my friend Rafa Cervera, a great music critic and admirer of Patti Smith, who has already written about this extraordinary relationship between two

rock'n'roll

legends .

As she herself recognized, Bob was the only one who could convince her to go on stage again.

In this way, in 1995, Patti Smith accompanied Bob for seven nights and they sang together one of his songs,

Dark Eyes , every night.

.

A song that has these verses: "I live in a world where life and death are remembered... I don't care about that game in which beauty is ignored."

Patti not only returned to a stage, but she also became active with life.

She began to compose and, above all, to write books of poetry, memoirs and essays.

Ultimately, she came back and did it with a force of seas.

And Bob continued on his own, on his endless tour, on his obsolete records, on his mystery.

In 2016, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature and the world of letters was turned upside down.

Men of letters, writers, and writers of all stripes came out in a rush to charge against the unjust and absurd decision.

Troy burned and the vast majority of the world of literary culture was offended by recognizing a puppeteer with the most precious, most promotional and most coveted award.

Those were pathetic and tremendously funny days, especially when verifying that the Nobel Committee, that mothball-smelling body that ended up mired in sexual scandals, did not know the true nature of the winner: Bob Dylan was not a writer aspiring to win prizes.

But what would the members of the Swedish Academy know if they were looking for publicity.

It was shown once again that it would be the first time, or maybe the second at most,

Like when it seemed that Dylan had come to the world with his lyrics to change it (and it looks like he achieved something more than the vast majority of writers with their books), in 2016 he continued to behave like Bob Dylan before others, before that world.

He did nothing that is expected of him or anyone.

He went about his business as a

rock'n'roll

puppeteer and pitchman .

But he also continued to behave the same in the face of what really matters to him: he asked Patti Smith to be the one to sing for him at the award ceremony.

A brown?

Maybe for the calculators, but not for her.

That gesture, seen as stupid by the same cultural world that had put the word in heaven and hell for the award, kept the honor of the code that Patti and Bob shared.

Patti sang

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

, one of the first compositions she learned from Dylan as a teenager, and she was moved.

She tripped over her feelings and her words and she had to stop the song to repeat it again in the eyes of the whole world.

The cynics saw a pose, many others a simple old and nervous woman, many others did not understand anything and perhaps a handful of crazy people saw the maximum beauty of a unique friendship.

Also the maximum beauty of the art of music, that art of oral tradition that is shared.

In an article in

the New Yorker,

Patti Smith recalled what happened with these words: “I was forced to stop and apologize.

Then, I tried again while in that state and sang with all my being, still stumbling.

It was not lost on me what Bob had done for me and so many musicians and that the song's narration begins with the words: 'I stumbled past twelve misty mountains.'

And it ends with the verse: 'And I'll know my song well before I start singing'.

As I sat down, I felt the humiliating sting of failure, but also the strange realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived in the world of letters."

If Dylan's literature, and therefore his music, even if Bob Dylan as a symbol, meant anything, it was perfectly represented in Patti Smith.

Those nerves and that heart-pounding song were bigger than the best of speeches.

I imagine that this is difficult to understand for writers who see the RAE Academy as a more sacred place than what, for example, is kept in a circle of villagers clapping and singing traditional songs.

Patti and Bob's friendship continues to this day, but our days have nothing to do with them and what they stand for.

The world we inhabit is hostile and runs too fast.

It is a world where there is a tragic deficit of poetry and beauty goes through advertising campaigns.

The same world that tells that talented kid not to waste time studying Classical Philology.

The same world that Patti and Bob faced with their songs, two soul friends, a soul at the service of art, something bigger than the reality they want us to live.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2022-06-21

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