Happy 70th to Poet Patti Smith

Happy 70th birthday to poetic badass and musical legend Patti Smith. “Birdland” is one of my favorite all-time songs. I could listen to it every day. I always wait for the wonderful, sad escapist verse where Patti belts out “where I am not human …” and the exquisite way she sings “a” in “It’s a radar scope in all silver and all platinum lights ..” in the album version. I embedded a video down below of what I feel is one of her best performances of that track. It was only last year (some people’s skills get better with age) in San Francisco for her 69th birthday. If I was in that crowd, the 3:50 mark is right about where I would have started to lose my goddamned mind. And then at the 4:11 mark I’d have lost it entirely. Note how Patti crumples up the lyrics on paper and just begins to feel it, ad-libbing the last quarter of the track and coming back occasionally to a touchstone phrase from the original song. It’s stunning to watch and hear. She’s such a giving artist. In an age where we hear so much false religious fervor and phony talk about “being in the spirit” — I’ll take the “spiritual energy” of a great song sung majestically over that claptrap any day. — David D. Robbins Jr.

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