Patti Smith arrived in New York City at the end of the Age of Aquarius in search of work and purpose. What she found—what she fostered—was a cultural revolution. Through her poetry, her songs, her unapologetic vocal power, and her very presence as a woman fronting a rock band, she kicked open a door that countless others walked through. No other musician has better embodied the “nothing-to-hide” rawness of punk, nor has any other done more to nurture a place in society for misfits of every stripe.
Why Patti Smith Matters is the first book about the iconic artist written by a woman. The veteran music journalist Caryn Rose contextualizes Smith’s creative work, her influence, and her wide-ranging and still-evolving impact on rock and roll, visual art, and the written word. Rose goes deep into Smith’s oeuvre, from her first album, Horses, to acclaimed memoirs operating at a surprising remove from her music. The portrait of a ceaseless inventor, Why Patti Smith Matters rescues punk’s poet laureate from “strong woman” clichés. Of course Smith is strong. She is also a nuanced thinker. A maker of beautiful and challenging things. A transformative artist who has not simply entertained but also empowered millions.
Caryn Rose is a longtime music journalist whose work has appeared in Pitchfork, MTV News, Salon, Billboard, the Village Voice, Vulture, and the Guardian. Her essay on Maybelle Carter was included in Woman Walk the Line.
This book is a book for the people. All of us. Every one of us. Yes–even you. It is a lovingly crafted devotional to Patti Smith’s truthful genius and her vast contribution to global culture for over half a century. As one of the most beloved and revered artists of our times and the last of her kind, Smith's importance and creative influence cannot be overstated.
Why Patti Smith Matters overflows with energy and verve. Caryn Rose is that smart girlfriend who guides you through the music, showing how Smith lit the way to new possibilities.
~Gayle Wald, author of Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Why Patti Smith Matters is a perfect blend of deep research, fine-tuned musical analysis, incisive biography, and personal reflection. Caryn Rose doesn’t shy away from difficult aspects of Smith’s work, but she’s a trustworthy guide and her fandom illuminates in tandem with the criticism. Feminists of all ages—and genders—will welcome this thoughtful portrait of an icon.
~Holly George-Warren, author of Janis: Her Life and Music
An enjoyable retrospective of Smith's career...Throughout, Rose threads her own experiences of, and thoughts about, each stage of Smith’s career in. She recounts thrilling concert experiences, parses why a particular song did or did not connect with her, and defends Smith from dismissive critics. Her personal connection, combined with her critical analyses, add a valuable layer, taking the book beyond a retelling of Smith’s storied trajectory and turning it into something more specific and meaningful. Part biography, part memoir, Why Patti Smith Matters tells the music icon’s story through the eyes of a knowledgable lifelong fan, demonstrating how much Smith and her music still matter nearly fifty years after Horses signaled the rock poet’s arrival.
If you’re looking for a distillation of Smith’s importance and influence, there are few writers who seem better-suited than Caryn Rose, making this new book a perfect blend of author and subject.
~Vol. 1 Brooklyn
[Rose's] analytical approach to research, along with her undying fandom...make her the perfect person to unpack Smith’s music and poetry in an engaging work that is a scholarly page-turner.
Rose dives deep into Smith’s music and memoirs in this beautifully crafted book to illustrate why Smith’s work 'matters' and its power to transform.
Why Patti Smith Matters covers [Patti Smith's] importance in 248 pages. It’s long enough to state the case and not too long to dissuade readers. It’s an ideal combination of biography, personal musings, and dissertation...This book gave me all the feels – more adoration for the subject and a new found kinship with the wordsmith. Why Patti Smith Matters belongs in your bookcase if you’re a melomaniac or love the art of great storytelling.
~The Aquarian Weekly
Rose’s book is a worthy exploration, and likely a revelatory one to even longtime Smith fans for the sheer volume of work there is...Rose doesn’t just fill in the gaps. She puts all of that in the context of a broader canvas of an artist’s life.
With Why Patti Smith Matters, Caryn Rose shows how Patti Smith’s work taught us how to fight the good fight outside of society.
Rose calls Smith a hero, a goddess, a field marshal, a saint. You will be left in no doubt about her oeuvre afterwards.
~Irish Examiner, "15 of the best music books of 2022"
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