Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story

Overview

Dancing Barefoot is the full and true story of Patti Smith, widely acknowledged as one of the most significant American artists of the rock ’n’ roll era, a performer whose audience and appeal reach far beyond the parameters of rock.

An acclaimed poet, a respected artist, and a figurehead for many liberal political causes, Patti Smith soared from an ugly-duckling childhood in postwar New Jersey to become queen of the New York arts scene in the 1970s. This book traces the ...

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Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story

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Overview

Dancing Barefoot is the full and true story of Patti Smith, widely acknowledged as one of the most significant American artists of the rock ’n’ roll era, a performer whose audience and appeal reach far beyond the parameters of rock.

An acclaimed poet, a respected artist, and a figurehead for many liberal political causes, Patti Smith soared from an ugly-duckling childhood in postwar New Jersey to become queen of the New York arts scene in the 1970s. This book traces the brilliant trajectory of her career, including the fifteen reclusive years she spent in Detroit in the 1980s and ’90s, as well as her triumphant return to New York. But it is primarily the story of a performer growing up in New York City in the early and mid-1970s.

Dancing Barefoot is a measured, accurate, and enthusiastic account of Smith’s career. Guided by interviews with those who have known her—including Ivan Kral, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, John Cale, and Jim Carroll—it relies most of all on Patti’s own words. This is Patti’s story, told as she might have seen it, had she been on the outside looking in.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this unfortunately timed biography, music critic Thompson (London's Burning) chronicles Smith's story from her childhood in New Jersey, growing up next to a pig farm, and her early days in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe, to her time at CBGB and up to her most recent album, Twelve. When Smith was nine, a neighbor invited her over to his house to listen to Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti"; from that moment, according to Thompson, she never let go of rock 'n' roll. Unfortunately, Thompson plods through these details, stitching together Smith's story based on interviews with her friends, from Tom Verlaine to John Cale; sadly, the book offers a disappointing and shallow portrait of this innovative poet and musician who still emerges from Thompson's book as an artist who is always changing, revising, and revisiting her own work and the work of others. Although this account of Smith provides few new insights into her life and music, Thompson's vivid re-creation of the music scene in New York City in the 1970s captures an exhilarating moment in music history. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Dave Thompson knows how to tell a gripping, carefully researched story. This one is about a young woman from the swamps of New Jersey who became an artist’s muse, then a rock star, then a wife and mother, then an award-winning author, and—most importantly—one of the major American poetic champions of her generation.” —Stephen Davis, author of Hammer of the Gods and Walk This Way

“Dave Thompson made me love and understand Patti more than any other writer ever did, including Patti herself.  But then again, he did it by using mostly her own words.  Brilliant!” —Cherry Vanilla, author of Lick Me

“Dave Thompson expertly captures the mood and magic of the period—there were moments when I felt as though I were reliving a part of my life, not simply reading a book about it.” —Ivan Kral, Patti Smith Group

"From raucous and indelible performances to her retreat to raise a family in Detroit to crushing tragedies to her glorious resurgence, Thompson reveals Smith's profound impulse to celebrate, memorialize, and inspire others. More comprehensive portraits will owe a debt to Thompson's blueprint biography."—Booklist

"Thompson's vivid re-creation of the music scene in New York City in the 1970s captures an exhilarating moment in music history."—Publishers Weekly

"[Dancing Barefoot] must be on the shelf of every serious Patti Smith fan, indeed anyone fascinated with classic '70s rock."—PopMatters.com

"[The book] bring[s] a deeper insight to the artist’s motivations and a great deal of much-needed perspective on the era in which she blossomed...Dancing Barefoot will broaden the understanding of even the most ardent Patti Smith fans.”—Glide Magazine

"Between Thompson's descriptive storytelling and interview snippers (dating from the late '60s to present) with peers, members of the Patti Smith Group and Smith herself, her story emerges both vivid and real"—American Songwriter Magazine

Library Journal
Although Thompson (Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell: The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed) interviewed a number of musicians and artists who have worked with poet and singer-songwriter Patti Smith over the years, he attempts to tell Smith's story primarily in her own words. The book relies on previously published interviews, Smith's Just Kids, and filmed interviews with and documentaries of Smith. Generally, this works well; however, the prose occasionally becomes stilted when too many attributions are worked into the text. While Thompson treats his subject sympathetically, he covers the good and bad, the successes and failures. Much to his credit, he avoids a tabloid-style exposé. VERDICT Readers looking for more examination of Smith's songs, recordings, and poetry should look elsewhere, but Thompson does a commendable job of documenting her life. Smith fans might find this a good companion to Just Kids, as Thompson does not focus as heavily on Smith's relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. It may also appeal to readers interested in American poetry and the development of punk rock in the 1970s. Recommended.—James E. Perone, Univ. of Mount Union, Alliance, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569763254
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 8.98 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Thompson is the author of London's Burning: True Adventures on the Front Lines of Punk 1976-1977, I Hate New Music: A Classic Rock Manifesto, and biographies of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and Eric Clapton. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Mojo, Q, Record Collector, and many other publications.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 The Sheep Lady from Algiers 1

2 Anna of the Harbor 17

3 Ballad of a Bad Boy 27

4 Death by Water 39

5 The Amazing Tale of Skunkdog 55

6 Picasso Laughing 71

7 Ha! Ha! Houdini 83

8 Neo Boy 101

9 Christ! The Colors of Your Energies 117

10 Babelfield 135

11 High on Rebellion 149

12 The Salvation of Rock 159

13 Burning Roses 179

14 Thread 191

15 Scream of the Butterfly 205

16 A Fire of Unknown Origin 221

17 Sandayu the Separate 235

18 Babelogue 245

Appendix: Patti Smith on Record 255

Bibliography 273

Index 283

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