Patti Smith at Smith Baker Center, Lowell (excerpts from Thurston Moore interview)


The Winter 1996 issue of BOMB includes an interview of Patti Smith by musician Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. She performed at the Smith Baker Center in Lowell on October 6, 1995, for the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! festival. The band stayed overnight at the Stonehedge Inn in Tyngsboro. Following are excerpts from Moore’s notes in the interview, reprinted from—PM


“I flew to Boston to meet her and Lenny Kaye where we were to drive to Lowell, Massachusetts, for a benefit for the Kerouac Foundation. She asked me to play guitar on three songs: one she had written, one by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, and one an improvisation to a poem by Kerouac. We did a show in Lowell and two in Boston, all three in these cool churches. We spent Saturday visiting the haunts of Kerouac’s Lowell. Patti took Polaroids of my hands for a Sunday exhibit at a friend’s gallery in Jamaica Plain. She’d frame the photos with broad white frames and write around them vignettes pertaining to the subject. I was friends with someone I had dreamed of being friends with for nearly 20 years.

“Saturday night performance, Smith Baker Hall, Lowell.

“This poem is dedicated to the members of Sonic Youth . . . .

“from high on rebellion

“what i feel when i’m playing guitar is completely cold and crazy. like i don’t owe nobody nothing and it’s a test just to see how far i can relax into the cold wave of a note, when everything hits just right (just and right) the note of nobility can go on forever. i never tire of the solitary E and i trust my guitar and i don’t care about anything. sometimes i feel like i’ve broken through and i’m free and could dig into eternity riding the wave and the realm of the E . . .”

Saturday: Driving from Lowell to Cambridge: We stop for Polaroid film and Patti buys a present for my daughter, Coco. Then we head on to the grotto where Kerouac used to write, and light candles for Fred. From there, we go to Kerouac’s memorial, granite slabs with lines from his Dr. Sax carved into their surface. Patti leaves her guitar pick at his grave. . . .”

Here’s a link to the full interview.