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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Smith's hard rock reasoning
Smith's Horses album was seen as a landmark release
Smith's Horses album was seen as a landmark release
The godmother of punk, Patti Smith, tells BBC World Service of her continued belief in the power of rock music to shape a generation.

In a music career that has spanned almost 30 years, the American singer song-writer has been described as "outspoken", "angry" and "controversial".

Now, after a break from performing, she is back.

"I have seen pretty much the evolution of rock and roll in my lifetime and it embraces all things from fun and excitement to sexual, as well as revolutionary, energy," she told The Music Biz programme.

Referring to the impetus behind her current retrospective CD, she explained how music can still be a driving force.

"My concern is how young people communicate with each other," she said.

"We have the possibility through music and technology to develop communication based on ideas not just pop culture."

Punk poet

Having recently released a retrospective two-CD set called Land (1975 - 2002) Smith has reinforced her status as a rock icon, but, as she explained she never set out to be a singer.

"I was just really off the streets," she said.

"I didn't know much about singing, I just wanted to get people to remember who they were and tell them that rock and roll was a grassroots, political and poetic art," she said.

"I want us to hold onto rock and roll as our voice."

Patti Smith
Claiming that her "three-chord rock merged with the power of the word", she continues to champion the rock cause.

"I was very concerned that this thing that I saw as a people's art was being gobbled up by business and I wanted to remind people of our rights and our duty," she said.

"I wanted us to hold onto rock and roll as our voice."


Smith's debut 1975 album, Horses, was seen as a seminal release and is still regarded by many as one of the most influential rock albums.

1978's Easter included her biggest commercial hit, Because the Night, which she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen.

Smith was also one of the most acclaimed performers on the New York rock scene, and was friends with artist Andy Warhol, beat poet Allen Ginsberg and author William Burroughs.

Her fusion of poetry and revolutionary politics has continued to attract fans, and some critics said she helped pave the way for artists such as Alanis Morissette and PJ Harvey.

Patti Smith talks to The Music Biz
"I have seen pretty much the evolution of rock and roll in my lifetime"
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