Friday, Oct. 15, 2010

Patti Smith

It's hard for female rock musicians to be taken seriously. There was Janis Joplin, of course. And Tina Turner is pretty kick-ass. But most women get lumped into the girl-group and soulful-singer-songwriter categories that just don't sound very tough. But not Patti Smith. The 63-year-old has managed to combine her music with poetry and performance art — two very nonbadass things — and somehow come out looking cooler because of it. Not to mention her 1975 punk-infused cover of Van Morrison's "Gloria," which takes the folk standard and turns it into a longing, crying, sinful screed. A cover song never sounded this good.

Bonus trivia: Smith's memoir, Just Kids, about her young life with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, has just been nominated for a National Book Award. How very punk rock.