Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story
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Dancing Barefoot is the full and true story of Patti Smith, widely acknowledged as one of the most significant American artists of the rock ’n’ roll era, a performer whose audience and appeal reach far beyond the parameters of rock.
An acclaimed poet, a respected artist, and a figurehead for many liberal political causes, Patti Smith soared from an ugly-duckling childhood in postwar New Jersey to become queen of the New York arts scene in the 1970s. This book traces the brilliant trajectory of her career, including the fifteen reclusive years she spent in Detroit in the 1980s and ’90s, as well as her triumphant return to New York. But it is primarily the story of a performer growing up in New York City in the early and mid-1970s.
Dancing Barefoot is a measured, accurate, and enthusiastic account of Smith’s career. Guided by interviews with those who have known her—including Ivan Kral, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, John Cale, and Jim Carroll—it relies most of all on Patti’s own words. This is Patti’s story, told as she might have seen it, had she been on the outside looking in.
backstage at a Rounders gig at the Village Gate. His own relationship with Patti wound up soon afterward. Patti quickly discovered that Shepard was married, with a young son, no less, but their attraction, she insisted, was so pronounced that neither she nor Sam had any choice in the matter. They were destined to be together, for however long they could last. Together they visited the Italian gypsy tattooist Vali to be engraved with permanent reminders of their romance: a lightning bolt for
she? She turned him down. “There was no space for me on that tour, and he knew it,” she insisted to Hit Parader. “But at that point, it was so early in my career … and he felt that I should be exposed to the public. I thought it was real sweet of him.” Mick Ronson explained, “The problem was, she wanted to bring her own band on the road, and that wouldn’t have worked because the whole point of Rolling Thunder was everybody using the same group of musicians.” (Emmylou Harris, one of the guests
Rundgren listened and then came back to say which one he wanted them to work up. And so it was that the last song Kral wrote for the Patti Smith Group was one of the first he had ever written; the riff for “Dancing Barefoot” was one he composed back in Prague when he was thirteen or fourteen years old. Later, Rundgren would single out “Dancing Barefoot” as the song that came together most successfully. Kral’s gift for melody was visible, too, on two other songs, the hefty “Revenge,” with its
rehearse and things with friends,” she recalled for Mary Anne Cassata of the Music Paper. “We felt we had something worthwhile to share, so we went ahead and started working on the album. Right in the middle of recording I found out I was going to have another baby. That was a surprise. We did as much as we could. We recorded until it was too strenuous for me.” But there may have been another reason for the cessation of these sessions. The faintest of rumors circulated at the time, insisting
was the one thing left to youth that had the power to make things different or better—that little monster was now a responsible member of society, a rebel no longer. And she despised that. Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, and Nico. The Velvet Underground, she told the assembled suits, “opened wounds worth opening, with a brutal innocence, without apology, cutting across the grain, gritty, urbanic. And in their search for the kingdom, for laughter, for salvation, they