I’ve been going through old interviews recently, putting together a collection of my music journalism, and I came across an interview that Jaan Uhelszki and I did with Patti Smith.
In August of 1996, two months after the release of her first album in eight years, Patti Smith sat down for an interview with us for my online magazine, Addicted To Noise.
Patti had a history with both myself and Jaan. She’d known Jaan when Jaan worked at Creem, and I’d interviewed Patti in 1975, before the release of her debut album, Horses.
We had a long conversation with Patti. I’ve pulled out the part where she talks about Bob Dylan. She had gone out on the road with Dylan at the end of 1995. At one point during the interview she said that she felt Bob Dylan was a big reason for why she became an artist.
Patti Smith: I’ve always felt that if there wasn’t a Bob Dylan I don’t know if… I think you have to give back what you’re given. I’ve been inspired and influenced by a lot of great people and I think it’s important, if you have any gifts at all, you have–if you’re given a gift, you have to give of it. One can’t hoard it. I think that is one thing Fred [‘Sonic’ Smith] and I were really talking about after being pretty reclusive for so long, that we did have a certain responsibility and I often, I deeply encouraged Fred, who was one of the most gifted people I ever knew to share his gifts with others and it’s regrettable it didn’t happen.
Some people are very comfortable with their gifts, somebody like Robert Mapplethorpe was very comfortable with them and used them daily. Worked daily. Other people are plagued by their gifts and I feel myself I have a little more of a better balance of comfortable plagued-ness, I have a little bit of plagued, I often feel dogged yet most of the time I feel blessed.
Jaan Uhelszki: The Dylan tour. How did it come about and did you stay in touch with him after you first met him at the Bottom Line in the seventies?
Patti Smith: No I hadn’t talked to him in some time. Really as I gleaned from Bob himself, he really felt that it would be good for me to come back out. He thought that I should come back out, and he said really nice things from onstage. I think that he feels I was a strong influence on things, and he thinks I should be out here–out in the front. He was very encouraging to me. I wasn’t really ready to work then, I really didn’t have a band. We’d been recording but I wasn’t really prepared to do anything. But I was so happy that he asked, that we decided to do it and you know we were a little rusty and rag tag but the people seemed happy and he was happy. My main mission on that small tour–it was only ten dates–was to crack all the energy, to crack all the atmosphere and get the stage ready for him. So we had our time before him and that was my prime directive was to get the night as magic as possible, so when he hit the stage, ’cause he hits a lot of them, that maybe it would feel a little more special than normal. And I think we did a pretty good job and I know that he was happy.
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