Thursday, May 29, 2014

“Just Kids” by Patti Smith – A Punk’s Life

Just Kids by Patti Smith – Book cover
I’ll be the first one to admit that I am not the biggest fan of punk rock there is. While I may occasionally partake in listening to “God Save the Queen”, for the most part it’s simply not a musical genre with which I am in tune.

Nevertheless, I do understand, respect and agree with the main message it seems to send, that of acquiring autonomy, self-realization, and internalized values/morals of your own. I do believe that the punk rock movement had a certain amount of importance, though I never bothered to really study it to its full extent. Well, it seems I have started trekking down that road with Just Kids by Patti Smith.

Those who are, like me, novices to the world of punk rock, have probably never heard of her or know very little about her actions. As it happens, Patti Smith is dubbed by many as being the “Godmother of Punk”, with her 1975 debut album Horses being an integral part of the New York City Punk Rock Movement.

In addition to that, she is also a poet and a visual artist who put her work through numerous mediums. Though the stereotypes associated with punk rock would have you thinking the contrary, Patti Smith is a very intelligent and eloquent person who has experienced much, acquiring countless stories, lessons and bits of wisdom to impart.

In Just Kids, Smith places the focus on her rather inspiring relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, also taking care to detail the more notable events which took place in her life during the late sixties and seventies. Though there is certainly a fair amount of trivial information to be found in here, Smith doesn’t simply rest content by divulging facts for us. Rather, she gives the book a music-like quality, turning it into what is perhaps one of the longest songs out there (Rest easy, I don’t mean that literally). Descriptions flourish with visual details you can easily perceive with your eyes closed, whether she is talking about the restless streets of New York or her infatuation with Mapplethorpe.

Regardless of whether you are looking to learn more about Patti Smith or punk rock in general, where its roots lie, then you simply cannot go wrong with this book. It is written in an easy-going fashion, telling a life story while including food for thought for the readers who yearn for it.

Though I’m probably not going to start listening to punk albums one after the next anytime soon, I do feel like I learned a number of valuable things, with the main one being that adversity and challenge breed success and build character, if of course, one never lets up. This book is definitely a read I highly recommend.


Patti Smith (December 30, 1946)

Patti Smith


Personal site

Patty Smith is an American poet, visual artist and singer/songwriter who became a great source of influence for the punk rock movement with the release of her 1975 debut album, Horses.

More recently she published her first book of prose, titled Just Kids, detailing amongst other things her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

No comments:

Post a Comment