Patti Smith Talks Songwriting -
Patti Smith performs Horses at Hamer Hall in Melbourne on Sunday 16 April 2017

Patti Smith performs Horses at Hamer Hall in Melbourne on Sunday 16 April 2017

Patti Smith Talks Songwriting

by on August 24, 2020

in News

Patti Smith says she admires the people who can combine “poetic elements” with melodies that find the formula to mainstream pop success.

Patti said: “I’m not really that good at writing songs. I’ve written only a couple of songs that have been popular. I’m not a hit maker. I would have loved to be somebody who could do that.

“You look at somebody like Michael Stipe, a great poet who also knows how to strike that pop chord. I admire that.

“Whether it’s Marvin Gaye or Bob Dylan or John Lennon or PJ Harvey – these people who can infuse a certain poetic element into a popular song.”

And Patti revealed she is a big fan of many popular female chart stars, even though their music is very different to her own.

She added to Uncut: “I love pop music. I like the same songs everybody else likes. I like Adele, I like Rihanna, I like Billie Eilish. I loved R&B songs when I was young. I loved Amy Winehouse. But for myself, I gravitate toward a different kind of expression.”

The ‘Because the Night’ hitmaker has faced criticism for immortalising people in her songs, whether its people she knows or musicians and poets she admires, but she insisted that’s just what “comes naturally” to her.

She said: “People have criticised me for that. Sometimes they don’t understand it.

“But whether the subject is my mother or Sylvia Plath, part of the beauty of being alive is remembering and giving continuous lifeblood to people that have passed. Even when I was young, it was something I did.

“‘Horses’ has two homages, ‘Break It Up’ was for Jim Morrison and ‘Land of a Thousand Dances’ was for Jimi Hendrix. Both had died and both had inspired me.

“Almost all of my records have an homage to an artist, poet or friend. It comes naturally. I’ve seen a lot of people die in my life, from a childhood friend to my brother, my husband, my best friend, my pianist, my parents, Sam Shepard.

“So many people I thought I would know forever. I’m very familiar with having to find a way to walk with people who have passed away.”

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