Patti Smith and I Talked About John Coltrane, Glenn Gould, and The Rolling Stones Yesterday

John Coltrane
Poet/punk rocker/legend Patti Smith is coming to Benaroya Hall on Jan. 25 to read from her new memoir, Just Kids, about her life and relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. In the book, Smith talks about writing poetry for the Stones' Brian Jones after his death, and makes numerous references to the importance and impact of Coltrane's music, and his death in 1967. I'll post the rest of the interview on Monday, but I wanted to share this bit now while it's fresh.

You speak well and repeatedly of Contrane's records from the '60s in Just Kids. Do they possess something that today's records do not?

Well, I feel like Coltrane, of course he was an innovator and invented a whole style and a way of improvisation that we all draw from now. But I think the most interesting thing about Coltrane -- besides his tone and his sense of improvisation -- was his deep spiritual center. You really felt his relationship with God in his playing.

You can listen to a virtuoso, you might think "Wow, that person plays really great," but Coltrane has a different dimension. He brought God into his playing. I always feel that when I hear him. There's nobody like Coltrane.

Do you still listen to the Rolling Stones?

Not as much as I used to. If I'm somewhere and hear a Rolling Sones song come over the radio, it's still exciting. I don't sit around listening to them. I listen to a lot of opera records. A lot of Glenn Gould. If I'm in a car, and the Rolling Stones, you know -- "Gimmie Shelter" or "Under My Thumb," and something comes on and it's "19th Nervous Breakdown" -- it's still exciting.

You speak of Brian Jones very lovingly. Did you lose interest after Brian Jones' death?

They never seemed exactly the same. But they wrote a lot of great songs after Brian Jones' death. So, I continued to, you know, feel loyalty to the Stones. Mick Jagger is a great performer, and Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts a great drummer. Maybe I didn't have the same youthful affection. Maybe I didn't have the same adolescent crush. But they're great. Their music is great. And they've written some of the greatest rock and roll songs ever. I greatly appreciate them.

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