Patti Smith John Rockwell - Essay

John Rockwell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Patti Smith is the hottest rock poet to emerge from the fecund wastes of New Jersey since Bruce Springsteen. But Smith is not like Springsteen or anybody else at all.

Springsteen is a rocker; Smith is a chanting rock & roll poet….

For Smith, the words generate everything else. Her "singing" voice has an eerie allure and her "tunes" conform dimly to the primitive patterns of Fifties rock. But her music would be unthinkable without her words and her way of articulating them—and that remains true even if they are occasionally submerged in sound. Patti Smith is a rock & roll shaman and she needs music as shamans have always needed the cadence of their chanting.

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(The entire section is 802 words.)