Nightswimming: Patti Smith’s Dream

“Patti Smith is such a goddess. I could never talk to her,” Parker Posey confided at a small cocktail reception for the legendary rock ’n’ roll poet last week in the outdoor sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art. At said moment, Smith came lunging in for Posey, lavishing praise on the indie queen for her hilarious roles in Christopher Guest movies. It couldn’t have been a better-scripted scene if Guest wrote it himself. Luckily, Posey overcame her goddess-shyness and lit right up in Smith’s presence. The occasion was a screening of Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a poignant biopic from fashion photographer Stephen Sebring that hit theaters this week, after eleven years of filming.

Sebring catalogued Smith’s re-emergence onto the public stage after the death of her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, which followed a long period of domesticity in the wilds of upper Michigan. I caught up with Smith in Paris earlier this summer for a one-on-one talk about rock ’n’ roll, fashion, life and art for BlackBook’s September issue, which hits stands in just a few weeks. During the making of the film, Smith told me she felt like she and her two children, Jackson and Jesse, were “on an adventure — which was to find out who we were and how we could conduct our life without Fred. I feel like I know what I’m doing now. The film ends where I really start beginning to know who I am. Again.”

After the screening, Smith, with the support of her daughter Jesse on keyboards, and longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye, played a brief, spirited set under the stars outside, concluding with the songs “Wing” and “Grateful.” Smith said she was grateful for the many friends and family who were in attendance and grateful to play in the wonderful setting of MoMA’s sculpture garden. We were grateful for the abundance of cheese breadsticks, too.

“Nightswimming” is the blog of Ray Rogers, BlackBook Editor in Chief.

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