At the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Patti Smith and daughter Jesse Paris Smith paid tribute to Walt Whitman, namesake of my fourth favorite bridge over the Delaware River, titler of my second favorite Team Dresch album and my high-school English teacher’s number-one brainiac amour.
I loved the stories Patti told about the single childhood visit to the museum that made her decide to be an artist and finding fashion across the river at the Goodwill in Camden, N.J.; her recitations of Allen Ginsberg’s ”A Supermarket In California” and Whitman’s “Song Of The Open Road”; and Jesse’s reading of a letter from Whitman to his mother after seeing the body of an unknown young soldier during the Civil War.
Maybe best of all was hearing Patti’s voice fill the Great Stair Hall as she sang in chanteuse mode, especially Neil Young’s “It’s A Dream” and Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich