The Paths That Led Patti Smith To 'M Train'

Iconic rocker, poet of punk, and National Book Award-winning author Patti Smith joins us to talk about her new memoir, “M Train”.

US singer Patti Smith performs during the Way Out West music festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, Saturday, Aug.15, 2015.  (AP)

US singer Patti Smith performs during the Way Out West music festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, Saturday, Aug.15, 2015. (AP)

When punk rock goddess Patti Smith covered The Who in 1975 on her first big album, “Horses,” she sang this: “I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ‘bout my generation).” She didn’t. Robert Mapplethorpe did. She wrote about their young love in the National Book Award winning “Just Kids.” Her husband, musician Freddie “Sonic” Smith, did in 1994. She’s writing about him – and a lot of other things – now. About love and Rimbaud and Burroughs and coffee. Thinking about dreams and memory.  And Katniss Everdeen and “Hunger Games.” This hour On Point, a new conversation with Patti Smith.

— Tom Ashbrook


Patti Smith, musician, writer and artist. Her new memoir is “M Train.” Also author of the National Book Award-winning “Just Kids.”

From Tom’s Reading List

New Yorker: The Theology of Patti Smith — “Is it caffeine that gives Smith her trembling sensibility? She writes—and, judging by her memoirs, acts—as if the world were brimful with the divine. There are no fixed boundaries in Smith’s universe: her dreams seep through her waking hours, the dead speak to her, she journeys on a whim. She requires only the right gesture, or the right setting, to bring her into contact with mystical currents. Returning to Mexico to visit Casa Azul, the house of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, she is afflicted by a stomach bug, and is given permission to rest on Rivera’s own bed.”

NPR Books: Patti Smith Reveals Her Solitary Soul In The ‘M Train’ — “If you don’t know New York City’s subway system, the sly title of Patti Smith’s new memoir M Train will whiz right on by you. There is no ‘M Train’ in New York; rather, this is a Magical Mystery line that only Smith rides, her snaking Mental trains of thought carrying her far off into Memoryland, as well as into reveries on subjects as wide-ranging as her passionate appetite for detective stories, and her surprising membership in an elite scientific society devoted to the subject of continental drift.”

Vanity Fair: Patti Smith Talks Fame, Youth, and Her New Memoir, M Train “When Just Kids, her rapturous labor of love about her formative days with Robert Mapplethorpe, was received with acclaim (and a National Book Award), some were surprised. The Mother Courage of Punk can write! Her new memoir, M Train (published this month by Alfred A. Knopf), will leave no one in doubt that she has long since been a fully paid-up member of what she calls that secret society of writerly bums and obsessed alchemists panning in vain for a drop of gold.”

Read An Excerpt Of “M Train” By Patti Smith


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