Sunday, July 13, 2008

Patti Smith and Kevin Shields- aural memorial

After photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989, her long-time friend and spiritual fellow traveler Patti Smith wrote an extended poem to memorialize him. In the notes to the recent double live CD The Coral Sea, she reveals that it wasn't until until 2005 and 2006 that she felt that she could finally present the full piece. To create the right atmosphere, she enlisted My Bloody Valentine capo Kevin Shields who created his lovely ambient washes of guitar noise to help Smith give voice to his vision and anguish. Taken from two English concerts, what's most striking about the untitled multi-parts of the piece is the alternating frenzy and control that she jumps back and forth between through her poetic imagery, occasionally breaking into song. The tone of the piece runs the emotional gamut through anger, pride, joy and sadness. It's a very touching, moving tribute and some of her strongest writing, so graphic that it almost begs for visuals- if not a film then at least some of Mapplethorpe's photographs. "His delicate eyes saw with clarity what others did not," she intones again and again.


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