Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011

Patti Smith

In 1976, I wondered why TIME didn't have a triumphant Patti Smith on its cover. The '70s were a time of expansion and progressive thought birthed in the upheaval of the '60s, and this single gesture would have locked in Coolness! Progress! Forever! ... at least in the mind of one Midwestern teenage music fan struggling to imagine his future. But in 1980 the country lurched backward to a time that resembled a cartoon '50s, the effects of which resonated for decades.

In 2011 we face a new era of sweeping changes combatting an even deeper cynicism and intolerance. With Just Kids, her memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti, 64, reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment's guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory — one that guides us through the present and into the future. Patti Smith, cover of TIME, 2011?

Stipe is the lead singer of R.E.M.