It is all but fait accompli that a list of Women-Who-Rocktober would include Patti Smith. Deciding to write about Smith is a slightly daunting, given that I hardly have what could be called new insights or information regarding Smith and her role and influence in contemporary music. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Smith’s; I enjoy her music well enough, though I have to be in a particular mood to listen, and Just Kids was a very engaging read, but I do have immense respect for Smith and the role she’s played in putting women out front in rock-music.
Smith’s music is hardly ubiquitous, but yet I have no recollection of when I first heard it – perhaps I had always heard bits and pieces of it around the place – but I do recall my reaction when I first listened. When I first properly heard Horses – especially the track Land – I was struck by the guttural power of it. Much like when I first heard the Pixies I was left wondering where this had been all my life.
Having influenced artists/bands such as REM’s Michael Stipe, Courtney Love, Sonic Youth, Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Madonna, KT Tunstall, The Go-Betweens, Shirley Manson of Garbage, and doubtlessly countless others, Smith’s legacy is well and truly secured. Yet already having ensured a place in the musical canon, Smith still tours and performs – at 69 years of age – while managing to avoid the ‘oh god, really’ reaction that veteran acts like The Rolling Stones can elicit when another tour is announced.
It cannot be contentious to include Patti Smith on the list of Women-Who-Rocktober, but anything I can write here can never hope to fully convey why she has earned the inclusion; Smiths work is best experienced directly.