# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Patti Smith - Raging Pages

  by Lisa Torem

published: 22 / 12 / 2016

Patti Smith - Raging Pages


In her 'Raging Pages' book column Lisa Torem finds musician/author Patti Smith's 'M Train to be a deep, exploratory memoir, suitable for travellers, creatives and more

Patti Smith’s counter culture savvy, gift for poetry and prose, and natural approach to songwriting and singing brought her first fame in the 1970s. She went on to receive the National Book Award for 2010’s 'Just Kids', a moving, memoir about her unique relationship with visual artist Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City, and more specifically, the once renowned Chelsea Hotel. In addition, she has garnered the coveted Commandeur des Arts et des Letres by the French Republic and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, she is a much sought-out speaker and entertainer for global events. In her new memoir, 'M Train', Smith reaches deeply into her literary and spiritual vault. Her journey begins in a Greenwich Village coffee shop, where she dutifully jots down every day observations in a moleskin notebook over black coffee and crusty brown bread. On most days, she wears her watch cap. Often, she will select a tarot card to jumpstart her rituals. She seems to relish the simple discipline of writing each day in such a prescribed setting, even when thoughts hasten to materialize onto the brittle pages. Smith comes across as a gentle, introspective soul, who is prone to misplacing common objects, but her devotion to the printed word is paramount. When she is lost in thought, she brings us along, trusting us to ride the waves of temporary writer’s block. We witness her mood shifts and desire to attach meaning to seemingly mundane symbols. And when she does describe the elegance of a perfect pebble, we become believers, too. Smith is a devout writer. “I have always hated loose ends. Dangling phrases, or a character that inexplicably disappears, like a lone sheet on a clothesline before a vague storm...” When entranced by the words of others, she honours their makers. “We are guided by roses, the scent of a page,” she states, in reference to Murakami’s 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle', a book she could not possibly put down. But lest we forget that Smith is a songstress, the shining star of ‘Horses,’ she makes it a point to inject passages about Golden Earring's ‘Radar Love’ and reflections of Maria Callas. More palpably, she luxuriates in the bed of her muse, Frieda Kahlo, in Casa Azul in Mexico, pays tribute to Arctic heroes when hobnobbing with the Continental Drift Club in Berlin, and shares rock ‘n’ roll stanzas with a somewhat paranoid Bobby Fischer in Iceland. She celebrates literary lives by cleansing tombstones and refreshing flora. As she travels from place to place, her images range from vivid dream states to biting realism. “All doors are open to the believer,” Smith philosophizes. After gleefully purchasing a seaside home in Rockaway Beach, she watches hurricane Sandy wreak havoc on her neighbor’s lots. It is not a community, though, easily torn apart. Wistfully, she grieves the loss of her late husband, Fred Sonic Smith, and reaches out to her grown children and abundance of friends. She cannot believe she will never again see dear friend, Lou Reed, but cherishes his optimism and artfulness. And, true to the Patti Smith legacy, she cites quotes from the authors that have forever inspired her works: Genet, Rimbaud, Mishima and Plath. Why in the world did her ex bury her in such a frigid locale? But perhaps the most touching passages centre around leisurely recounts of days spent with her grounded parents and brother. 'M Train', made of high-quality paper, is small and is easy to toss into one’s attaché; a perfect stocking stuffer or present for a frequent traveler. Smith’s simple, black and white Polaroid images add a great deal of emotional texture to her heartwarming renderings. The cover of 'M Train' shows Smith resting her palm against her chin, her ceramic cup sadly empty. Wearing the expression of the restless traveler, her eyes drift elusively off the page to that mysterious place that writers go. It is, fortunately, a place we get to inhabit for a delightful and satisfying 275 pages, and may represent one of Patti Smith's proudest moments.

Band Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

live reviews

Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, 3/4/2015
Patti Smith - Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, 3/4/2015
Lisa Torem at Chicago's Old Town School watches Patti Smith celebrate spring through readings of original and classic poetry and an assortment of her greatest hits
Royal Festival Hall, London, 19/6/2005

favourite album

Horses (2003)
Patti Smith - Horses
In the latest in our Favourite Albums series, in which a different writer writes about a favourite album of his or her choice, new writer Jon Rogers examines the impact of Patti Smith's seminal 1975 debut 'Horses'


(Gig of a Lifetime) Manchester Academy, September 2012 (2014)
Patti Smith - (Gig of a Lifetime) Manchester Academy, September 2012
In 'Gig of a Lifetime' Nicky Crewe writes of attending a Patti Smith concert at the Academy in Manchester in 2012
Patti Smith (2013)

digital downloads

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors