Last night, 70's rock n' roll legend Patti Smith performed at Sotheby's in NYC and I was there to witness the glory firsthand. Accompanied by guitarist Lenny Kaye, Smith's performance was to benefit the Smithsonian's Archives of American art. She performed original material, a few covers, and read artists' love letters from the Archives' collections, as well as from her own book (Just Kids). "Even though email gives us immediacy, the letter gives us proximity," Smith mused, urging us to continue to write letters. "The Smithsonian has 16 million letters, and if we don't keep writing letters, and only write emails, that's all they'll have 20 years from now too."
Patti Smith sang with all of the strength, agony and sincerity that I expected from her - and though most of the love letters she read weren't her own, she was filled with a sense of romance and charm as she recited them. "As a girl who loves being in love, I don't read these [letters] tongue and cheek or with anything but delight." Smith assured us.
In moments of transition, Smith loosened up what appeared to be a pretty stiff Upper East Side audience with stories of her ex-husband, her allergy to scotchgarded carpets, a history lesson in - and her love and appreciation for - the man who created glasses, the list goes on. "Digression is part of my business," Smith admits with a giggle, "if I had a business card it would say: Patti Smith, Digresser."
Below is a snippet of her last song of the night "Because the Night" - which actually got some of the audience singing along...guess you can't judge a rich philanthropist by her Chanel skirt suit: