Throwback Thursday: Patti Smith; An Author Study

Happy Thursday everyone. I was going through my old Google Drive looking for some pieces of my writings and I came across this. My junior year of high school we had to write an author study. What that basically is is analyzing pieces of authors writings and texts to see what their style is and how it has differed over time. At the time, I had just started Patti Smith’s book, “Just Kids,” and knew she was the obvious choice for my study. I have done a lot of other music writings on my blog and for other classes but this study was my first so it holds some great value.

I hope you enjoy this piece of writing as much as I do,

-Izabella

P.s. Yes I know the story copied a little funky; no I don’t know how to fix it


The style of punk rock has been around since the 70s and has been known to have
been created in England. But as the years have gone the phrase ‘girls invented punk rock, not
England’ has been developed and threw the amazing work of Patti Smith, I think it is pretty
clear that this is not just a phrase but a fact. Patti Smith is a singer, songwriter, poet and is
known as the Godmother of punk. Everything she writes, whether it is a song, a poem or a
novel, she has her own voice that will never go out of style and is easily identified. Although
Patti Smith sticks to her descriptive style throughout all her works, as she gets older her
enthusiastic outlook on life starts to get lost.


Lyrics and poems are what Smith is most known for because that is where she started
to find her voice. One of her first poems was a poem called ‘Rape’ that she had written
sometime in the 70s. This graphic piece of writing helped her identify her trademark tone
that she had continued to use throughout her career. With phrases like “lay down darling
don’t be modest let me slip my hand in. ohhh that’s soft that’s nice that’s not used up”
(Smith) it is easy to identify the descriptive style and tone that Smith always tends to use in
her writing. With this being a piece from her youth, her sense of playfulness is still fresh and
quite present even if it is in a very dark way. The words of this poem simply slide off the
page into the mind of the reader with zero hesitation. She is taking a classic idea of a feuding
wolf and sheep to create a written piece of messed up art! Her storytelling voice does not
stop after this poem but continues to get stronger as she continues to write.


In 1975, Smith had released her debut album ‘Horses’ which was a record basically
just full of her poems. One song that sticks out for having the same playfulness as ‘Rape’ is
her extremely famous song ‘Gloria’. “I was at the stadium There were twenty thousand girls
called their names out to me Marie and Ruth but to tell you the truth I didn’t hear them I
didn’t see I let my eyes rise to the big tower clock And I heard those bells chimin’ in my
heart” (Gloria 1975) are the lyrics that fly not off the page this time but right through the
listeners ears! You can see the girls, you can hear the crowd and you can imagine the large
clock; everything about her story is so vivid and colorful. Earlier in the song, she describes
being at a party and simply having fun. That idea of being so young is something that is
really brought to life through the way she tells the story. The voice of Smith can be seen on a spectrum; on one side of the spectrum is her 2010 book Just Kids and on the other side is her book M Train from 2015.

Although both these books can reflect on the overall work of Smith, they also help show the differences that Smith picks up throughout her life and starts to get older.
Just Kids is a reflection on her young life which creates something playful and
exciting because it was a time in her life full of things she had never experienced before. The
whole book follows her life as a thriving artist living in New York with her short term
boyfriend turned into a lifelong best friend Robert Mapplethorpe, soon to be famous
photographer. Her words in this book are just like any other that she has written before:
“The skyscrapers were beautiful. They did not seem like mere corporate shells. They were
monuments to the arrogant yet philanthropic spirit of America (Smith 27).

She’s descriptive, she’s loud and her words are different from anything else; she is also living a time of her life where she is trying to fight the system and break those ‘corporate shells’ which helps form
her ideas into something even bigger. She went from being a simple, creative child to being
exposed to the pornagraphic art producted by Mapplethrorpe (Smith 236), to making her
own (non pornagraphic) art and songs. Her details are important to her voice because as a person who is exposed to this kind of life of the unimaginable, she wants to make it imaganable for the readers just as she did in her poems like ‘Rape’ and songs like ‘Gloria.’


On the other side of this Just Kid era Smith is her book M Train. This novel holds lots
of classic Patti but in a different kind of way. She writes her words with the same details and
the same passion as Just Kids but doesn’t have the same ideas to play around with. Her ideas
went from things like crazy parties, pornographic art and artistic life at Chelsea hotel to in
depth stories about teacups, chairs and even the idea of growing old. After the death of her
husband and her cafe visits becoming more regular, she really didn’t have anything to inspire
her but she had a fire lit under her butt to write. This simply resulted in her writing about
her surroundings such as how her bed, her clothes, her laptop and cats fell into her life
(Smith 27).


Smith is different from many other authors because she doesn’t have a yes or no
opinion. Everything she sees in her life creates its own story and means something special to
her and that works in her favor when the thing she is talking about is not something you
hear about everyday. This is where her old age shows in her writing because when she
doesn’t have anything exciting to write about, you will just end up getting the whole detailed
Patti Smith writing experience about a boring teacup opposed to something that is full of life
and adventure.

Throughout Patti’s walk of life, she has developed this special way of telling stories
whether they be about a young girl getting raped or about the chair that sits collecting dust
in her small apartment. Her ideas start to fade away as she gets older because she is leaving
the past in the past and isn’t making the memories she used to; she has been there, done that
and wants her life to slow down.

One thought on “Throwback Thursday: Patti Smith; An Author Study

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