30 Over 30: Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s first album technically debuted one year before she turned 30, but I’m going to let it slide because – as chronicled in her National Book Award winning memoir Just Kids – she scraped by, earning close to nothing (and sometimes nothing), devoting her energy to her art entirely (while splitting sandwiches and peeing in plastic takeout cups) for 8 years before securing the record deal. The album, Horses, has been recognized by Time magazine and Rolling Stone as one of the greatest albums of all time, and has been included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Also, her first hit single, Because the Night, made it to 13 on the charts in 1978, when she was 32.

Since then, Patti Smith has released 10 albums, published 5 books of poetry, been named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This December, she is slated to perform at the Vatican Christmas Concert, for the Pope.

What I love most about Patti is her fierce dedication to her work, honing her craft, and creating in order to sustain joy – not knowing, and in fact not caring, how the work will turn out or be received:

Or, as she wrote earlier this year in a New York Times book review of the latest Murakami novel: “The writer sits at his desk and makes us a story. A story not knowing where it is going, not knowing itself to be magic. Closure is an illusion, the winking of the eye of a storm. Nothing is completely resolved in life, nothing is perfect. The important thing is to keep living because only by living can you see what happens next.”

Patti Smith, Paris 1969, LINDA SMITH BIANUCCI

Patti Smith, Paris 1969, LINDA SMITH BIANUCCI

…especially if that means more work from Patti Smith. Thank you for your words and wisdom, Patti!

To hear about more features of women who are forging their own paths, career and otherwise: Follow me on twitter @shespoised.

Categories: 30 Over 30

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