Pop Quiz: Patti Smith

Aidin Vaziri | Patti Smith doesn’t have a new album to plug. She just likes San Francisco, and since it’s Arthur Rimbaud’s birthday Monday and everything, the New York punk icon thought she would stop by to say hello on her way back home from an international tour. “We’ll play whatever people want,” says Smith, 61. “I’ll ask people waiting outside what they want to hear. We’ll do songs from ‘Horses.’ We’ll improvise. We’ll make the night.” Although, if you’re really interested in finding out more about the singer who served as a major source of inspiration for U2, R.E.M., Jeff Buckley, 10,000 Maniacs and KT Tunstall, there is a new documentary, “Patti Smith: Dream of Life.” Smith plays Monday at the Warfield.

Patti Smith
Q: Do you like hearing what other people do to your songs?
A: I’d rather see people do their own work. The best thing about that is I get very good royalties. It was great when 10,000 Maniacs did “Because the Night” and I got that check, but I was equally excited when a teenage Chinese punk band did “Rock ‘n’ Roll N-” and I got 14 cents.
Q: I hope you cashed that check.
A: The best thing is to motivate people to do their own work. I’m not opposed to making money. But I started to play rock ‘n’ roll to motivate others, to shake things up, wake people up and to let other skinny, pimply marginalized weirdos know they’re not alone.
Q: You were the last person to play at CBGB’s. What do you miss about it?
A: Nothing. I remember going to Europe and everyone would come up to me and tell me how great they thought CBGB’s was. I remember thinking, “Don’t be intimidated by it. It’s just a little bar that smells like urine. Go build your own. You can have your own little bar that smells of urine.” Continue reading.

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