Poet, author, visual artist, singer, songwriter: these are just a few of the things Patti Smith has been over the years. But even with all her personal accomplishments and accolades, the iconic artist’s recent appearance on Mountain Stage was dedicated entirely to her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith. Best known as guitarist of the punk band MC5, Fred passed away in 1994.
Patti Smith accepted Fred’s posthumous induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and honored him by performing some of her songs that have the deepest ties to Fred. Smith was accompanied by her son Jackson on guitar, daughter Jesse on piano, and longtime collaborator Lenny Kaye on guitar, along with members of the Mountain Stage Band.
The five-song set opens with “Paths That Cross,” a song Patti and Fred co-wrote as a response to the AIDS crisis, and closes with the timeless protest anthem “People Have the Power,” another of the songwriting couple’s well-known collaborations. In between, Patti performs a few of her biggest hits, including “Because The Night,” which she prefaces with a brief, touching anecdote:
“Fred and I met in 1976 in Detroit, but because I lived in New York we were fated to have a long distance relationship for a while. I co-wrote this song with Bruce Springsteen, but the words were for Fred.”
Patti Smith, a South Jersey native, published her latest memoir M Train in 2015. She won the National Book Award for her previous memoir, Just Kids. Her latest album was 2012’s Banga, and she just announced the Steven Sebring documentary Horses: Patti Smith and her Band, capturing the 2015 concerts celebrating the 40th anniversary of her debut album Horses.
Listen to Patti Smith’s Mountain Stage performance below via NPR Music.
Paths That Cross
Because The Night
Looking For You (I Was)
People Have The Power
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