Full Disclosure – the best part of my Seattle trip had nothing to do with Gnomedex.
On Saturday evening, Keturah and I started randomly walking around downtown Seattle looking for a good place to have dinner. We started walking down Pike Street and were almost at Pike Place Market when we saw a long line of people winding around the block. I was curious so I decided to ask someone in line what was going on and he told me that Patti Smith was playing this small club around the corner. After a little bit more investigation and a little bit of discussion, Keturah and I decided we had nothing to lose and everything to gain by jumping at the end of the line and hope that there were still some tickets left when we got to the front.
Everything worked out. Oh my, did everything work out.
Our knowledge of Patti Smith was pretty limited. I knew a couple of songs by her, a little bit about her musical legacy, and her importance within the grand Rock and Roll scheme of things. But my expectation was simply to be entertained with some good music in a cool, intimate club.
Instead, what I got was a performance from an icon who had the audience in the palm of her hand. Not since I saw Bruce Springsteen 7 years ago have I been to a concert when the crowd would have jumped off a bridge if the person on stage told us to. We were all that transfixed on every word she had to say.
Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with fellow music enthusiasts where we discuss what musician that we never got to see in person would we most like to go back in time for. For me, the answer has always been Jimi Hendrix. But I believe Patti Smith may have helped erase that desire by performing “Are You Experienced?” It was a transcending moment, knowing what Patti has seen and lived through all these years, do have her ask the audience, including a rather younger soul like myself, “have you ever been experienced?” and then follow it with the next line with all the venom and angst that she has built up inside her and release it all into “Well, I HAVE!!!!”
It was those kinds of moments that Patti Smith provided us throughout the night. It didn’t matter if you weren’t familiar with her personal song library, because she busted out classics like The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”, The Beatles’ “Within Without You”, Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”, and even a dark, moody version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
Each song had meaning and history for her. She poured her soul into singing them and sharing her emotion with us in a manner that I will never forget.
Thank you Patti Smith. Thank you for being who you are. And thank you for sharing who you are with the rest of us.