patti smith, new year’s eve 2009 at bowery ballroom

starting out our night at bowery to see the so-called “poet-punk-priestess”, none of us really knew what to expect from this power-house who recalls the furious beauty of the romantics or beats devoid of their hallowed male ego.  we knew her music a little, her mythos a bit more, and mostly, i think, we were excited to be so close to such an iconic woman on a special night.  bowery ballroom is on my short-list of favorite nyc venues for live music; it feels small with a cool aesthetic, is right off the train (particularly good on that slushy nye night), sound is good and it’s well laid-out for both audience and performer.  you can hang out downstairs at the bar pre-show, can see (even for me, at 5’2″) just about anywhere in the main stage area, and the upstairs tables are good squats, too.  we sang along when we could, danced to the rest and got just as annoyed as her devout fans in the audience when some of the particularly drunk revelers drowned her talking out in between songs.  she spoke of radioland, ny in old messy punk days, said goodbye (again) to jim carroll whom we lost last year, read us some of her poems, played us some of her classics, told us some stories and anecdotes about her mother and children, and counted down the end of the year–a few times, since they cued her wrongly on the first.  her voice has lost none of its power, and neither has her personality.  she is the genuine article:  earnest, soulful, funny, smart, talented, self-aware but not conceited, striking, raw, intimate.  walking out after the show, we all articulated the same basic sentiment–let me grow into that.  all pics copyright to owners & lyrics to dancing barefoot, which she performed again nye, below

she is benediction
she is addicted to thee
she is the root connection
she is connecting with he

here I go and I don’t know why
I fell so ceaselessly
could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
heading for a spin
some strange music draws me in
makes me come on like some heroin/e

she is sublimation
she is the essence of thee
she is concentrating on
he, who is chosen by she

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
could it be he’s taking over me…


she is re-creation
she, intoxicated by thee
she has the slow sensation that
he is levitating with she …

here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…


(oh god I fell for you …)

the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
grave visitations
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
the hands of he and the promise that s/he is blessed among women.

(oh god I fell for you …)

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