Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Patti Smith: Dancing Barefoot

(Via Soraya Darabi)

Patti Smith: And this entire time I thought Dancing Barefoot was a U2 song.

Bohemian Soul Mates in Obscurity
In “Just Kids” Ms. Smith writes of becoming pregnant at 19 (“I was humbled by nature”) in New Jersey, giving up her baby and heading to New York for a fresh start. Describing herself as “I, the country mouse,” she writes of heading to Brooklyn to visit friends and discovering that those friends had moved away.

In a back bedroom of their former apartment she encountered Mapplethorpe for the first time: “a sleeping youth cloaked in light,” a beautiful young man who resembled a hippie shepherd at a time when Ms. Smith had been contemptuously described as looking like “Dracula’s daughter.”

Thus fate introduced Ms. Smith and Mapplethorpe, who would become roommates, soul mates, friends, lovers and muses. Strictly speaking they were never starving artists in a garret, but the romanticism and mythmaking of “Just Kids,” and their tenancy in the tiniest room at the Chelsea Hotel, brings them pretty close to that ideal.

They went to museums able to afford only one ticket. (The one who saw the exhibition would describe it to the one who waited outside.) They went to Coney Island, able to afford only one hot dog. (Ms. Smith got the sauerkraut.) They loved the same totems and ornaments and flourishes; they valued the same things, though in different ways. “We were both praying for Robert’s soul,” Ms. Smith writes of Mapplethorpe’s frank ambition — especially when he fell under the influence of Warhol, someone she deeply mistrusted — “he to sell it and I to save it.” She goes on to suggest caustically that it was his prayers that were answered.

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