In a Democracy Now! special, the legendary poet, singer, activist Patti Smith joins us for the hour. Her new memoir "M Train" has just been published. In 2010, her best-selling memoir, "Just Kids," won a National Book Award. "Just Kids" examined her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989. The new memoir focuses in part on Smith’s late husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, who died five years later. Patti Smith is also celebrating the 40th anniversary of "Horses," her landmark debut album, which has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time by Rolling Stone.
Beside being known for her music and writing, Patti Smith has been a longtime activist, performing regularly at antiwar rallies and political benefits. She has also written songs about former Guantánamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz and Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old college student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. She talks about these songs and her assessment of the Obama administration.
Legendary musician Patti Smith performs her song "My Blakean Year" in the Democracy Now! studio and talks about the influence of poet William Blake (1757–1827). We also air a recording of Smith singing a version of Blake’s poem "The Tyger." Smith has long been praised for mixing poetry and rock music.
Over the last two years, Patti Smith has twice been invited to sing at the Vatican. We air part of her performance of "People Have the Power" and talk to her about why she cheered when the new pope took the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi.
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