Venerdì, 21 Settembre 2018

Patti Smith says prayed for pope to call self Francis


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, April 10 - 'Godmother of Punk' Patti Smith
said Wednesday she had prayed for the new pope to choose the
name Francis as a sign that he would follow in the footsteps of
the patron of the meek and poor and lover of Nature,
13th-century St Francis of Assisi.
Smith, 66, is a declared admirer of the short-lived and
famously humble pope John Paul I, who reigned for 33 days in
She told reporters after meeting Francis at a general
audience Wednesday that when she heard the shock news Benedict
XVI was to abdicate in February, "I prayed that his successor
would choose the name Francis".
Smith, who is in Rome for a series of concerts
commemorating her explosion onto the New York pre-punk scene in
the 1970s, said: "After the white smoke (went up), when I heard
on the TV that the new pope was called Francis, I was happy."
The singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist, whose debut
1975 album Horses was a musical landmark hailed by the punk
rockers that came after her, called the name choice "a brave
She said it was "too early" to judge the first Latina
American and Jesuit pope but added that the former cardinal
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires - who used to dance the
tango with a girlfriend as a young man and had a stint as a
nightclub bouncer - was an "interesting" man.
"I like him", said the rock icon of a pope who has already
established a reputation for snubbing the pomp of office and
reaching out to the marginalised and other religions, as seen in
a recent pre-Easter ritual when he washed and kissed the feet of
12 juvenile detention centre inmates including a Muslim girl.
Smith, who is of Irish origin and had a strong Bible-based
upbringing, has returned to religion after her years on the rock
roller-coaster but has denied reports that she has embraced
"I'm not Catholic and so I see things without the weight of
dogma but I find it beautiful and brave to have chosen a name
that represents humility, the renunciation of materialism and
attention to Nature," she said.
Smith added she had always had an "extraordinary" reception
from Italians, whose "faith has always amazed me".
She also recalled her first years in New York, in the late
'60s, when "I hung out with people like Allen Ginsberg, Leonard
Cohen, William Burroughs and Diane Arbus at the Chelsea Hotel.
"They weren't celebrities (yet), we were friends and we
used to lend each other money. Janis Joplin lived there for more
than a year without anyone asking for her autograph or taking
her picture".
Smith was a major figure in the New York underground scene
at the turn of the '70s before breaking out with an explosive
fusion of rock and poetry.
Her best-known song is Because the Night, co-written with
Bruce Springsteen, a transatlantic hit in 1978.
In 2005 she was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et
des Lettres by the French minister of culture and in 2007 she
was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2010 she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just
This month Smith is set to produce and star in what Musica
per Roma Foundation has described as "the most significant
special music project to be launched in the Italian capital this
The music icon Smith has personally chosen the
multi-disciplinary programme, called My Festival.
She appears in two separate events; a tribute to Allen
Ginsberg entitled The Poet Speaks With Patti Smith, Philip
Glass, Lenny Kaye and Jesse Smith on 13 April; and a concert
dedicated to that groundbreaking album, Horses, with Smith and
her band, on 14 April.
For further information, contact Auditorium Parco della
Musica, Viale P. de Coubertin, tel. 0680241281,

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