If you watched Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story, the Martin Scorsese documentary that came out on Netflix last year, you got some idea of what an otherworldly, supernatural presence Patti Smith was in the ’70s. Smith had one of the best moments in the film, and this is a movie about Bob Dylan performing onstage in the ’70s, so it’s not easy to make an impression in a movie like that. So it brings me great pleasure to report that Smith still has an otherworldly, supernatural presence onstage, and that we can all now get a good look at it.
Smith was a guest on The Tonight Show last night. She was there to promote her new memoir Year Of The Monkey, and she sat down to talk to Jimmy Fallon, mentioning that it was the first time she’d ever been allowed to talk on the show. She told a story about how she’d tried to get on the Johnny Carson version of the show but found out that her reputation was too wild: “I said that I would be good. I would even wear a dress and everything.” She also described being a jerk to Bob Dylan the first time she met him and meeting Keanu Reeves some years later.
But the real draw here is her performance. Smith, backed only by her bandmate Tony Shanahan on electric piano, sang an absolutely devastating version of Neil Young’s searching, devastating 1970 classic “After The Gold Rush.” Before singing it, she recited a powerfully hopeful poem that seems to be new. She is really something to behold. There is absolutely nothing else like that voice. Check out the performance and the interview below.
Year Of The Monkey is out now.