Patti Smith on Work

When I wrote and performed a rock musical titled Riddled in 2012 (with the incredible musical talents of Sean Michael Robinson and his band Landlord’s Daughter), it felt like the culminating creative work of my career. I had long been performing autobiographical solo shows that combined found text, music and original verse, but this was new. And bigger. And so much harder. To welcome fiction, and the inspiration of the Bonnie & Clyde story, into my desperate exploration of the cognitive dissonance I feel around guns and my father’s obsessive libertarianism, I had struck a new vein. For about two years, I had an incredible team of collaborators (including director Braden Abraham, co-producer Daryle Conners, and designers LB Morse, Matt Starritt Bobby Aguilar and Harmony Arnold) knocking heads together to create a fresh form of creative storytelling to contain this work. It was exhilarating.

And when it was made, I was so hopeful for it to live a longer life. It got mixed reviews, with some good responses in that mix. And when I spoke to a local producer about picking it up for a longer run he said, “You know, I know what you’re going for with the Patti-Smith-whiny-white-woman thing but it doesn’t work for me.” I am not made of the strongest stone and I don’t think I have yet recovered from that conversation.

However, this interview with Patti Smith hearkened me back there with a glow of hope today, as her work almost always does. In the beginning and the end, let us love the work itself.