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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector: Patti Smith

February 15th, 2010
12:07 PM ET

American Patti Smith is often referred to as the "Godmother of Punk" - an influential figure in the rise of the punk rock movement during the 1970s in the U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/15/patti.smith.blog.gi.jpg caption ="Singer Patti Smith."]

Some of her most memorable albums include her 1975 debut album "Horses" and her hit song "Because the Night", which was co-written by rocker Bruce Springsteen.

Although Smith is well regarded in the music industry, the 63-year-old is also well known for her political activism on a variety of issues.

She was an open supporter of the Green Party in the U.S. and threw her weight behind the 2000 presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.

Smith also helped organize some of the first series of protests against the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.

In 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and rock stars including Michael Stipe of R.E.M and KT Tunstall have all openly said Smith was a source of inspiration.

Today, Smith has a new book out called "Just Kids" which chronicles her life in New York City during the 1970s and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

And the Documentary “Patti Smith: Dream of Life” by Steven Sebring, had its national broadcast premiere on the POV (Point of View) www.pbs.org/pov/pattismith series on PBS last December.

Here's your chance to ask Patti Smith a question.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. marcus

    Love "Horses"! How long did it take to write "Because the night" and what instruments do you play if any? Thanks for making the world a bit of a more interesting place.

    February 15, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  2. marcus

    Oh, and have you ever played or written w/ Iggy Pop?

    February 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  3. thomas ormiston

    do you even wish you had spent more time on your art,poetry rather than the music and all the time it consumed.What direction would your art go?

    February 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  4. ali

    has you ever drunk from the fairy cup?

    February 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  5. Survivor


    We appreciate your work.

    Will you write a song about corrupt using Electronic Warfare Torture Weapons and slow-killing the victim-witnesses of our country and beyond, which is actually an attack on our democracy?

    Thank you.

    February 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  6. K Lee

    I was heartened by your attitude about the demise of CBGCs. Given that NYC is so much more expensive nowadays, what kind of venues can young performers make their own? As the "Godmother" – have you ever thought of sponsoring a space?

    February 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  7. sholden141

    In the early CBGB's scene – did you and your friends (Television, Ramones etc) have a sense of how influential you would become?

    February 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  8. Barry

    Thank you for surviving, I treasure the inspiration you have given me and send you love and light from Jerusalem, where I tell my students that you are rock and roll wrapped in holy vestments. Ooh Child.

    February 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  9. DJ Woolley

    Do you think that the Greens in the US will ever achieve the same level of influence as their counterparts in Europe?

    February 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  10. Åke Högman

    Patti! Me and the band will soon go into the studio. Bass, two guitars, drums, my songs. Any advice of how to make the best of it? Åke

    February 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  11. Haruhiko Mohri

    When I was a teenager, I often listened to Pistols.
    I thought their message is a sort of anarchism.
    You looks like "Protest" such like Bob Dylan in 60's.
    Do you think who is the "Godfather of Punk"?

    February 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  12. Michelle

    How would you compare the sexuality of your antics on-stage (when you were still performing with the Patti Smith Group) to the female singers' today? Was/Is it about spectacle or business, in your opinion? And do you believe in order to achieve the type of success you've experienced as a female artist today that you have to be as opportunistic as you were in the beginning? It seemed, at least from the POV of "Please Kill Me" that you had no consideration or sense of community with other female artists at the time; it truly seems that you were completely in it for yourself, even forgetting people that assisted you on your way to stardom, people like Penny Arcade.

    February 15, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  13. luciana

    Hi Patti,

    so glad to know that you are back with your truly inspiring writing.
    As we are living in troubled times, do you still believe that "People have the power to wrestle the world from fools"?.



    February 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  14. Jerry

    Hey Marcus

    Bruce Springsteen wrote "Because the Night", and as good as Patti's, Loved the way Gilda Radner played her on SNL great stuff.

    February 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  15. JohnnyMysticFlower

    I can help you with the shoe laces will you help me becoming an artist ?

    February 16, 2010 at 12:20 am | Reply
  16. Sean


    Your music has influenced a lot of people. Who are some artists/bands that you listened to as you were growing up that informed your sound? Also, what are some bands from the current music scene that you think are great?


    February 16, 2010 at 1:16 am | Reply
  17. Zeno Stone

    How would you describe the look, intensity, power of seeing The Clash play live? What effect did they have on you? Because I remember reading how you jumped onstage with Paul in one of there gigs in '76 haha!

    February 16, 2010 at 6:57 am | Reply
  18. Jesper Petersen

    Dear Patti. Thanks for hundreds of happy hours together with your music. I heard you and your band in Denmark in August 2005 the day hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
    Here is my question:
    USAs economy is depending upon war and weapon production. So the Military Industrial Complex needs enemies to feeds it profitable war business. When the Sovjet Union disintegrated in 1991 USA and its enormous war industry faced it's worst crisis. "Luckely" lots of Muslim fanatics appeared, and saved more americans from loosing their jobs in the war industry. What do we do to dismantle US' (economic) dependecy on war?
    Kind regards
    Jesper Petersen, Denmark
    phone 0045 5632 6470

    February 16, 2010 at 8:57 am | Reply
  19. Kau

    Still remember your fantastic duet with Sarah McLachlan on piano during the Arista anniversary celebration. Keep the World a "happy" place.

    February 16, 2010 at 9:28 am | Reply
  20. Tina

    Your concert in Slovakia last summer at Pohoda festival was one of its highlights but also one of the last big performances that took place there because of the weather storm that followed. One of the stages collapsed leaving two dead and many injured. How do you recall this festival? Many people that I know are putting your performance as a leverage to the sad things that happened afterwards.

    February 16, 2010 at 9:48 am | Reply
  21. Ara


    Your words are timeless ands still resonate with me*
    It's funny how full circle this life can be – your truth is a boomerang – with a time warp....ha ha

    February 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Reply
  22. stanley

    Ma,how's life? My question is; do u love Nigeria? If u don't why? Its very important to me.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:01 am | Reply
  23. sadik abubakar yola

    hey i ve been ur fan 4 a very longtime i luv, n wld like u 2do me a favor, my nation nigeria is @ its economic, political crisis ova its president sickness our leaders r struggling 2get rich while d followers r sufferin from it. love u 2send ds 2dm and 2 president obama 2help us cut down ds hullabaloos.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:22 am | Reply
  24. Shofy

    How many conutry have you been and have you ever come to nigeria before?

    February 16, 2010 at 10:23 am | Reply
  25. habib badamasi

    Dear pathi.I am truely your fan but there's jst one thing I nid 2 know.have u trained or inspired any one to take your steps in d music industry.nd are u interested in bringing up any african?

    February 16, 2010 at 10:24 am | Reply
  26. Daniel

    What advice do you have for the youth who has a lot of talent and kind of confused on what to do next?

    February 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Reply
  27. Muhammad Muawuya

    I want to know ur biography. And i want ur mail address, i have somtin to ask u personally. From Nigeria.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:30 am | Reply
  28. Izzie Nutz

    Hi Patti,
    We met backstage before a show at the University of New Hampshire in 1978. While you were signing my copy of Babel, I stole a stage access pass that you dropped. It was the greatest night of my life, but I still feel guilty. Do you forgive me?

    February 16, 2010 at 10:35 am | Reply
  29. Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    You protested against President Bush"s war in Iraq. What do you think of America's prescence in Afghanistan under President Obama? Is it justified? Thank you.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:51 am | Reply
  30. Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    It should read America's stronger prescence in Afganistan under President Obama. Sorry.

    February 16, 2010 at 10:53 am | Reply
  31. Chubbyswit

    Wot's ur latest album if any...?Anyway tnkx 4 help makn d world a beta place.LUV UR WORK!!!

    February 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Reply
  32. Oni Temitope

    she is doing her job well. more power to her elbow.

    February 16, 2010 at 11:20 am | Reply
  33. ,Michael Mangas

    Patti, Best thing I heard was your version of "MY GENERATION" my generation baby ! I want to hear that one again ! I know I should have it forgive me , for me that personifies you ! I gave you a hug down at the "Seafarers Church" in Detroit after the Tribute to Fred ! I Love you be strong ! 🙂

    February 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Reply
  34. David Starns

    Being such an influential rock icon and the 'Grandmother' of punk you started a revolution in music, and alot of artists have you to thank for generating this genre; but what inspired your own style and developed your unique sound?

    February 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  35. Seun david sodipo

    Where did you spend your child hood?

    February 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Reply


    February 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  37. Nicholas

    I'm new in this what is hapaning?

    February 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  38. Nicholas

    I'm new in this but i want to ask the meaning?

    February 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  39. Nnoli John

    Please Ma, who is your role model?

    February 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  40. ibrahim john

    i will like to encourage you to keep the excellence work on

    February 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  41. Leon Geisen

    Dear Patti,

    thank you for all the great albums and books you have written. I love all of them. Your memoir "Just Kids" is a dream. Thank you so much for writing it.

    My question to you is: will there be another album?

    Thank you so much!

    All the best,


    February 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  42. Taiwo

    Am looking 4 job

    February 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  43. Andrew F Wilson

    Are you ever going to visit Ethiopia, in the footsteps of Rimbaud?

    February 16, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  44. Ryan Clark

    Hi Patti! I'm a huge fan of your work. I was wondering if there is one song or album that didn't turn out the way you hoped, and what would it be? What would you have changed about it?

    February 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  45. Denise

    Dear Patti.
    How to you feel about the "preciousness" that art has become in the new century? What do you feel about the statement that “the art market is less ethical than the stock market"? And, finally how do feel about the prices that your gallery sells your work for? What is the true "value" of art to you?

    February 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  46. michael

    Hello Patti,
    You are a Hero in the classic sense. Who do you see are the current hero's of the modern era?
    Love your performances – have seen you in many countries and cities, but always love it when you come to my home town – Minneapolis.
    Looking forward to the Chicago benefit for the Homeless.

    February 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  47. Kevin Reid

    Hi Patti,

    I hope you're well. I live in a small town called Kirriemuir in Scotland, the birthplace of JM Barrie. This year is the 150th celebration of his birthday and I'd love you to visit, you would be made more than welcome.


    February 16, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  48. Kevin Reid

    What are your reading at the moment apart from Bolemo?

    February 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  49. Kevin Reid

    sorry Bolano 🙂

    February 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  50. Shay

    There seems to be a major upheaval going on. The world is getting smaller. We are becoming more aware of the untruths. What are your thoughts on the current state of human affairs?

    February 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  51. Irene

    Hi Patti,
    I have been reading Just Kids and I feel like I know you and Robert personally. It is the warmest and most heartfelt story. It brings the reader back to one of the most creative times and one of the most supportive times for artists and the common folk. (and you are on the NY Times best seller list!...) What made this the right time to write the book? Also, I do believe that People do have the Power, but do you think in some respects that people are not as passionate about what is right and have lost some sense of direction in regards to human rights?

    February 17, 2010 at 2:31 am | Reply
  52. musicofourheart


    I love your poetry. You deliver a poetry reading with such intonation and expression.

    Is poetic verse a truly satisfying experience?


    February 17, 2010 at 2:45 am | Reply
  53. Ariadna

    Dear Patti,

    You are a truthful and honest inspiration since many many years.
    I am also reading "2666" from Bolaño, who lived not far away from where I am (Barcelona). It is good to know you're also fascinated by it, as I am reading it in Spanish since weeks ago, and that the English translation seems to be accurate.

    My simple question to you: is there a new creation-album coming up?

    Sending Love to you and to your family,

    Ariadna B.

    February 17, 2010 at 4:35 am | Reply
  54. Nnaemeka Ifediegwu

    In which COUNTRY is she from?

    February 17, 2010 at 9:31 am | Reply
  55. Ero Horton

    Your music is more confident and wild than most female musicians of the last 30 years who choose to use a sugary sweet sound. However your breadth of vocal talent is unrivaled and I thank you for your passionate sound.
    Ero Horton,
    Taiwan, R.O.C.

    February 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  56. robo

    why didn't you play horses and some other songs when you performed @ the showbox, in Seattle, a couple of years back?
    robo from castalia

    February 18, 2010 at 7:30 am | Reply
  57. silfero

    Hi Patti, are coming in Europe this year? in France would be nice.
    and.... THANKS for everything since "HORSES". You changed my life...

    February 20, 2010 at 10:26 am | Reply
  58. denise blair

    there is a nuclear plant in vernon, vermont that has to close, before we become chernoble, vermont... some of the people are marching and exposing the truth and everything else there is to do...danger is lurking and the rest of the people cope by hoping not...while the evidence of leaks and lost pieces piles up under the piles of money that seem to weigh more...arranging for all to take a pill to save our thyroid glands...and perhaps to start a new religion that baptises all with the radiated cooling water from all the good people's wells?
    question: how to care without melting from the heat of the thought of a meltdown

    February 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  59. Bill

    I am a big fan of your music and writing. I loved Just Kids. One thing I fouund interesting is that photography was a medium Robert Mapplethorpe embraced in the 70s, but you did not. Was photography just an area of art that didn't interest you at the time (in terms of the idea of you taking photos, not the other way around).


    February 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  60. Andrew F Wilson

    For Silfero – Patti Smith is performing in Germany, UK and Spain in March and in France (Argelès-sur-Mer) in July 2010. Other European dates are likely in the summer.

    February 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  61. Michael Joseph

    I realize this Connector has already happened. However, I just attended your presentation at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago.

    Originally, I had decided to go for your signing of your book to give as a gift to my lover. He is an art enthusiast and admires the work of Mr. Mapplethorpe. But, I have decided to keep it for myself. Your presence, your humor, your devotion, your veracity, your spirituality... all a true inspiration to an individual at a very pivotal moment in life. Forty-one years have led to this moment. As Picasso's "brutal confidence took [your] breath away", my look into your eyes resuscitated my being... "I knew I had been transformed [and] that to be an artist was to see what others could not." One day, I will find my expression for that look into your eyes. Then, I will have become that artist.

    I can only hope that this message might find its way to you. I wish you to personally know of my gratitude. Although I am not an avid reader, I am very eager to engross my time with your words. My lover will just have to settle for an unsigned copy. 🙂

    Peace to you and those around you, Patti.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:22 am | Reply
  62. silfero

    For Andrew F Wilson: THANKS very much. I'll go to Argelès. But can you tell me where you got the dates tour, please? because nothing on the pattismith. net

    February 22, 2010 at 7:29 am | Reply
  63. Andrew F Wilson

    For Silfero – Patti Smith news usually appears first at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/eternalcafe/ There is also a good list of future concert dates at http://www.kaapeli.fi/aiu/ps/gigs.html

    February 22, 2010 at 9:20 am | Reply
  64. liz

    In case some of you are interested, KQED's "The Writers' Block" has published an episode of Patti Smith (who just recently won the National Book Award) reading from her memoir, Just Kids:


    November 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply

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