by Philip Shaw
33 1/3 Books, 2008, paperback
The first time I saw Patti Smith was on R.E.M.'s Monster tour in 1995. I was in high school. I didn't know much about her yet but I knew that she was someone to find out more about, much like R.E.M. pointed me towards The Velvet Underground. I don't remember the quote exactly but I recall Michael Stipe saying once how when he heard Horses he realized anyone could sing, that he could sing. R.E.M.'s music and interests gave me a perspective beyond the one-traffic light town I lived in. Because of Horses significance to Stipe, the bits I know about Patti Smith, and the concerts of hers I've seen since, I was excited to see that the 33 1/3 book about her focused on Horses.
Philip Shaw's story of musical discovery and research bears some similarities to mine, though his was guided by Ian Curtis and Joy Division and Patti Smith, who he knew first through the Horses cover. The format and approach for 33 1/3 books varies with the author. Shaw writes about Horses as a fan, as well as the necessary invocation of Rimbaud while also discussing it through other texts. As he says, "...Horses is about what happens when we listen as well as read."
3- "...but from Patti Smith I learned that the loss of control, a key word for Ian Curtis, need not lead to a suicidal walk 'upon the edge of escape' (She's Lost Control Again) As Land taught me, the loss of control could lead, equally, to the sea of possibilities."
7- Velvet Underground and Warhol
8- Bob Dylan
9- Robert Mapplethorpe
13- rigor and taking music seriously
-"Elvis Costello line (the attribution is disputed) 'writing about music is like dancing about architecture.'"
15- "unlike other cultural forms, music is where we are most likely to encounter ourselves"
16- "What music offers is the promise of release from the restrictions of everyday life. But such a release is, of course, illusory, and just as ideology works to convince its subjects that they are, in fact, outside ideology, thus rendering itself immune to critique and to the potential for revolt, so music, by concealing its origins in commerce, and by providing a sense of escape from the workaday world, operates as a lure to critical consciousness. To be lost in music, released form the nine to five, is to feel alive, but also, as Sister Sledge adds, to be 'Caught in a trap': for who, once they have experience such freedom, would wish to reflect on it? Might the act of close critical engagement ruin the illusion?"
19- "nothing is more heady in the sense of intoxicating, than the champagne froth of a radical new idea."
23- the Situationists
24- "With each song, Smith presents a sort of photographic negative, her characters inhabiting a shadow version of the land of the free."
28- Lacan: "A certificate tells me that I was born. I repudiate this certificate: I am not a poet, but a poem. A poem that is being written, even if it looks like a subject."
-"Patti Smith always distrusted the idea that human beings possess a fixed or stable identity."
29- "Yes, she is a poet, and she is a poem that is written."
30- Rimbaud- self-fashioning
33- Alice in Wonderland
37- Philadelphia Museum of Art
44- Piss Factory
52- "death by water"
-"how many tears on your pillow. crocodile or real. watershed."
52- T.S. Eliot
54- "the night stretched like a cloud"
55- (questions) "Perhaps all of these or none of these things."
56- PS: "I had to go to Paris to find myself as an artist, but I came back to New York filled with words and rhythms."
56- close alliance with Lenny Kaye
60- Sam Shepard- PS: Shepard's "whole life moves on rhythms. He's a drummer."
61- street angel
62- "her stress on the act of reading"
63- words, language
67- Rimbaud quote- women
72- Richard Hell: "The art-form of the future is celebrityhood."
76- Gross: "She was a woman who dared to get up on stage and not smile- not aim to please."
86- Patty Hearst- "I am nobody's million dollar baby."
97- John Cale- mirror quote
98- Horses read as artifact
102- "Again, who is singing here, and to whom?"
106- Lacan, Zizek
121- album "form of memento mori, an artistic meditation on the limits of mortality."
122- Jim Morrison- the task
128- Voltaire- back to England- Louis XV- said to have asked him: 'What did you learn over there?' 'To think, sire.' (penser- to think), to which the King replied, 'Horses?' (panser- to groom horses)"
129- "Horses, then, is about thinking; or rather, it is about allowing oneself to be thought..."
132- Lacan- child- mirror