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Patti Smith – Year of the Monkey

Roam Chronicles

Patti Smith, the iconic punk poet, was recently a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.

While I certainly know who Patti Smith is and appreciate her influence on punk and pop culture, I’ve never really done a deep dive into her catalog of art.

Listening to the conversation between these two cultural warriors opened a can of worms that I’ve been trolling around in for the last few weeks -starting with Smith’s recent book ‘Year of the Monkey’.

Patti Smith - Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey was something I don’t think I was completely ready for when I first dove in, although in hindsight clearly should have been. The switch from my more traditional travel reads or business books to a mystic-beat wandering road trip was a jolt at first.

But I quickly settled in.

It had been a while since I read a book where I had a hard time separating Hunter Thompsonesque truth from reality or ever since I joined a women almost the same age as my own mother on a hitchhiking adventure.

It was a perfect pandemic read.

Of course, this all lead me to pull up Patti Smith on Spotify and wander down that road of familiar classics and some real surprises. As someone who is a bit stuck in the world of 90’s grunge when it comes to music, seeing Smith’s cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ immediately caught my eye.

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Again I was caught off guard, expecting something it was not. Patti Smith’s country-esque cover blew me away in the sort of way that possessed me to share it with all of my Nirvana loving friends. I couldn’t believe it.

One of the beautiful things about ‘finding’ an artist who has already been around for a while is that there is a deep catalogue of material to go check out. This catalogue is deeper and more diverse than most, and I’m going to enjoy the journey of discovery and sharing it along the way.

Belinda Carlisle Matters

I finished my breakfast and walked over to deliver a donation to the Bread of Life Mission.  A homeless fellow in a long, grey overcoat and purple watch cap was scrawling a message on a brick wall with a piece of pink chalk.  I slipped a five in his cup next to a makeshift bed of flattened cardboard, then watched his fingers as the words slowly emerged:  Belinda Carlisle Matters.

-Why? I asked.  Why does Belinda Carlisle Matter?

He stared at me for a fairly long time that extended into and even longer time, all the way back to when cities were merely hills.  He shifted his gaze from me to over his shoulder, then down to his toes, then finally looked up and answered in a low voice.

-She’s got the beat.

Patti Smith

Year of the Monkey

Written by Roam Chronicles

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