AFP, published on Sunday, May 22, 2022 at 7:02 p.m.
As a child, Patti Smith, who had been taught never to accept anything from strangers, had to regretfully refuse a pin from an electoral campaign that she nevertheless wanted.
That day, the future singer, poet and writer had sworn to herself that she would also manage to have, one day, a medal to hang on the lapel of her jacket.
Mission accomplished, this Saturday, after the legend of American rock received, at the age of 75, the French Legion of Honor from the hand of the French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne.
After telling this anecdote, Patty Smith bewitched the public who came to attend the ceremony at the Brooklyn Public Library co-organized by the Albertine villa, with a few fiery pieces alongside her daughter Jesse on the piano and her longtime guitarist. Lenny Kaye.
“It’s an indescribable honor, I take full measure of it,” she told AFP behind the scenes, once the tribute was received.
– “Adopted” –
“For someone who has been largely shaped by French culture, French literature, French art and cinema, my whole life, that’s especially important,” she smiled.
“I’ve adopted France all my life, and it’s something incredible to be adopted like that in return.”
An essential artist, a reference for her peers, Patti Smith has aroused the adoration of her fans for more than half a century. His music, his compositions, his poetry and his introspective writing on edge which earned him, for his memoir, “Just Kids”, to receive the US National Book Award in 2010.
True to form, she concluded her speech by paying homage to another artist, the French poet René Daumal, from whom she read — in English — part of the letter addressed before his death to his wife:
“Seeing that we are nothing, we want to become”, she declaimed. “Desiring to become, one lives.”
– Power to the people –
Wearing her traditional black jacket, her long gray hair dotted with a few braids, Patti Smith notably delighted her fans by playing her song “People Have The Power”, or in French “Le Pouvoir Belongs To The People”.
She then developed the idea with AFP, judging that if “artists can inspire people, rally people, give them hope, (…) in the end, it’s not the artists who bring about the change are the people”.
“By voting, by taking the initiative, by monster demonstrations, it is the people who bring change.”
A responsibility all the more overwhelming as “the world in which we live is going very badly”, she underlined, listing the “unprecedented heat waves”, “famines” and “climate phenomena never seen”.
“The only way to fix it is a global effort,” she said. “No matter the gesture, every gesture is important.”
– “Immense joy” –
These days, the singer says she writes like she’s “always done.”
“Writing songs, writing poems, writing another book — I’m always busy, always doing something.”
After receiving the Legion of Honor, she said she would immediately use that inspiration to do “more work, better work”.
“To be chosen as a kind of mini-ambassador for the country is really a great joy for me,” she summed up.
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Patti Smith moved to be “adopted” by France, which awarded her the Legion of Honor
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