Lost on you

My friend Katie D. just sent me a band I can’t stop playing and it reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Just Kids by Patti Smith.

We had our work and one other. We didn’t have the money to go to concerts or movies or to buy new records, but we played the ones we had over and over. We listened to my Madame Butterfly as sung by Eleanor Steber. A Love Supreme. Between the Buttons. Joan Baez and Blonde on Blonde. Robert introduced me to his favorites— Vanilla Fudge, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin— and his History of Motown provided the backdrop for our nights of communal joy.

This is one of the scenes that really stuck with me from her memoir about her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time in New York City, their relationship and determination to become artists. This passage was in the Amazon sample and one of the reasons I had to buy the book.

It struck me personally because I have been so inspired and creatively energized by New York. But my time has been different than hers. I’ve had a steady income and the freedom to go out and see as much New York as I can soak in. In doing that I keep getting inspired, my mind is changing, I have more to say but when to say it? I’m always going! The scene speaks to me for so many reasons but the most direct is that it is an inspiration and example of what you need to do if you want to get what is in your mind out.

The entire book is a celebration of the desire and dedication it takes to even attempt to be an artist. You see the fun of it, the amazing people she met, the experiences, successes and failures. When I walk around the streets here I can imagine those scenes playing out today. But that scene of her and Robert working all night to the same few records over and over, that is the work that it actually takes.

I’ve been a bit of a nomad lately. I’m in my third sublet in as many months. It’s a good one and I’ll be here for another 2 months. The best thing about it is the couple who lives here has a component stereo with a record and tape player. Patti and Katie’s song has me inspired. I could listen to the records, but I think I’ll take Patti’s example and do it my way. I’ll just let YouTube keep playing songs while I and write.