Patti Smith Tony Glover - Essay

Tony Glover

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The four plays in [Mad Dog Blues and Other Plays] all tend to be basic (most with little scenery), and full of street talk and rock-and-roll images….

[The] main reason I got the book is for the second play, "Cowboy Mouth" [which Sam Shepard] co-authored with Patti Smith, who is one of the greatest poets writing in English. (Probably other languages too, but English is all I got covered right now.) The play is heavily auto-biographical; the two characters, Slim the Coyote and Cavale the Crow were played onstage by Shepard and Smith. The premise is basic, and bizarre enough to be real; Cavale has kidnapped Slim from his wife and kid at gunpoint—she wants to make him a rock and roll star. Slim is torn between leaving and embracing her fantasy. The action takes place in Cavale's room…. In the room and their minds they run through all the changes of demon-doomed lovers; they tell each other stories, they play coyote and crow, they curse each other out, they howl at the moon, they collapse from exhaustion. Each author wrote their own character's speeches, and a rough and ragged poetry spurts out….

Words in this play are more than words, they're vehicles for lots of emotion. The whole man-woman thing is dug into, overlaid and under-cut by all the sounds out the window that affect every bedroom, no matter how the air is conditioned….

Try this one out—and keep an eye out for future works by Patti Smith…. (p. 57)

Tony Glover, in Creem (© copyright 1972 by Creem Magazine, Inc.), June, 1972.