Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just Kids

Just KidsI've been reading Patti Smith's National Book Award winning memoir, "Just Kids" about her time with Robert Mapplethorpe. It's an exceptional book. She's been criticized for embellishing her remembrances, but like her lyrics, I find the book has a dream-like quality, and these "embellishments" are so honest that I in no way see them as a cheat, or a lie. She paints such a romantic, bohemian, utterly free, anything-was-possible picture that only comes with the the achingly young and naive with nothing to lose, bursting with energy and searching for someplace to put it. They were both convinced they would one day be artists. They just KNEW.  As poor as they were happy, they lived for art, and were completely and totally supportive of the other.

Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, a Bilingual EditionAs with any great book, it's sent me out, wanting to know more about this or that. One direction was straight toward Rimbaud. When Smith boarded a bus for New York, having bought the ticket with found money, she had nothing but a suitcase and Rimbaud.  I knew very little about Rimbaud, but based on her love of his work I went and bought the book I've posted here.  Later, Jim Carroll lived with Mapplethorpe and Smith for a time and after Carroll died last year she referred to him as the American Rimbaud.  Now how could I not search out all things Rimbaud after that?

Blonde on Blonde (180 gm Vinyl)They had no radio or TV.  They had no money.  But they had Dylan's rambling, epic masterpiece Blonde on Blonde.  She talks about playing it over and over again while hunched over their canvases drawing and painting all night.  I can imagine them, one hunched over some drawing paper sketching, the other hunched over the record player, flipping the disk.  I imagine when I listen that they heard the same things I do in the songs.  They got it.  We get it.

Hard to believe now, but I knew something like it all once.  Long dead and gone now, not nearly as... ...But for a while there...

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