Jan 16 2011

Patti Smith on her artistic independence

Published by at 11:32 pm under Uncategorized

There is a reason why Patti Smith is our #1 muse.

She’s all over the media these days after her book, Just Kids, won the National Book Award. But when I heard that Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! had interviewed her (H/T Yolanda), I made a beeline.

She has lots of great things to say, and has such a wonderful, genuine innocence in her reflections, that it’s worth watching the whole interview, which I have embedded below. But I had to call attention to this, what I consider to be the money quote, on her artistic independence:

Well, I maintain it, because that’s all I ever wanted. I mean, I never cared about having a career, so I made all my decisions based on protecting my work. So it could be a simple decision like if you get $100,000 and do what they tell you, or you can get $20,000 and do what you want. And I was like, “No problem, $20,000 sounds fine to me.” I’ve always chosen that route in everything I do. And, you know, people who say that you can’t, it’s just not true.

She goes on:

I do things that, you know, make people upset. My political views or my humanist views have caused me a lot of censorship, but I don’t have a problem with that. I mean, it isn’t right, but what I would have more of a problem is if I had to look back on my life and say, “Yeah, I compromised here” and “yeah, I did this so I could get that.” Once you start doing that, it’s like a house of cards—it all falls apart. You know, you can’t make any short cuts. And you just got to—it’s all a question of what you want out of life, you know?

She sounds a lot like another artist I have great fondness for:

I am neither a liberal nor a conservative, neither a gradualist nor a monk nor an indifferentist. I would like to be nothing more than a free artist, and I regret that God did not give me the gift to be one.

Keep doing those things. And showing the rest of us the way.

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