I’ve got seven ways of going, seven wheres to be.”
Of course she will never see this. No one will. I don’t write to be known, I write because it is all I know. Five people gave me a love of words and music. One of them has a birthday today. 66 years old today. This is my open letter to Patti Smith.
I have read Just Kids more times than I have read any other book. To me, it isn’t a book. It is a guide for life. It teaches you how to love freely but with caution. How to follow your heart, but keep the one who owns firmly next to you. How to never let go of them, but become the person you want to become. The person you need to become. Your music taught me how to write from the heart and to not let anyone ever sway me. It’s easy to do what others expect of you; but you feel much better when you do what you want to do. The sense of freedom that comes over you is beyond words.
The outcast eventually gets what they want. You taught me that struggling for your art isn’t a bad thing. I know I may never have anything I write published in a book. I know the goals I set for myself in my mind may never ever happen; but the courage to try is there. It is there because of your art. Your words. Your music. You. Self-belief is a thing I may never grasp, but self-doubt keeps me going because when the one thing I want to happen, happens- I will know not to abandon it. I will know how to keep hold of it and let no one take it from me. People are keen to take so much from others because they no longer know how to work for their own and make something for themselves. Society is becoming more closed off and the art of conversation and the intimacy of eye contact is slowly fading. This breaks my heart.
People like you are rare. Rare people like you influence others greatly to follow their heart. It’s all well and good listening to your head, but where does that get you? Nothing good comes from taking the safe option. I’ve fucked up many a time from following my heart, but I don’t believe in regrets. Everything toughens you up, eventually. Words. Words hold more power than anything else in the world. You can say “I love you” so many times, but it only has meaning when you say it with feeling. The actions help too. Art creates love. Through love comes tenderness. I admire you because of your gentle words and your attitude on stage. When you can merge the two so well, you become a person that another can believe in. Don’t stand in their shadows, just use it as a way to carry on.
There is a line from Dancing Barefoot that sums up the first time I heard your music, “Some strange music draws me in.” Truth be told, it wasn’t strange. It was like finding a home. I was young when first heard your words, very young. Your music just stuck with me. I’d see videos of you acting tough on stage wishing I could be as tough as that. I was the opposite. I was gentle and sensitive, like your words. That’s how I’ll always be. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that being as strong as most just isn’t my thing. If I was, I’d never write again. I love words and the feelings they create too much to ever give up on them. To ever not be who I am. For to stop that, I’d be going against all I believe in.
I made an enemy out of myself in my own reflection. Then I listen to your record, Wave and all makes sense again. Frederick is the best love song ever written. I love the innocence within it. The devotion and love within that song is exactly how I feel about the one I love; it’s good to know that she feels the same. These things are rare. Rare things are easier to adore. I will hold onto her.
Guidance is found in strange and familiar places. What we know fades, and we replace it with other things to lead the way. I’ll always stay true to the power of music and words. Rapture takes over when you find something to connect with. For me, Punk was the only genre of music that ever captured my heart. It unleashed the frustrations and any form of love inside me. Who wrote of love better than you, Patti? Nobody. You. Just you, for always. There is no such thing as fear when I listen to your music or read your poetry.
I must go back to Just Kids one more time. I read Just Kids when I feel at a loss, or just need something I cannot put into words. I read it, and hope takes over. I’ve laughed and cried whilst reading Just Kids. I’ve cried from the sadness and from the love within. Everything about this book is everything I want from literature. I’ve watched Dream Of Life more times than I can can recall. I’ve seen fear ruin people, and I’ve seen love make people. I’ll always back the latter. Your words and music; your art have always projected such purity. A way of creation that is lacking now, but it is obvious it is still in some. Face the sins we have apparently made. Make them again and again. And just say you lived.
If I ever get tough, I’ll hold you responsible. If I ever lose my way, I have your art.
Every word you have written, spoken and sung has influenced this 26-year-old from the middle of nowhere- heading nowhere, aiming for somewhere with no possessions. Dream of life in the hope the dreams become life. Real life.
I wish to thank you for all you’ve done for music and literature. I wish to thank you for creating something that this lost soul found a home in.
All the love in the world.
Happy Birthday Patti.
“What is it that calls to us?
Why must we pray screaming?
Why must not death be redefined?
We shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
And whirl on a pane of glass
An afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree.”