Her connection with Hendrix was slightly more intimate: She was invited to the opening of his recording studio, Electric Lady. “I was excited to go. I put on my straw hat and walked downtown, but when I got there, I couldn’t bring myself to go in,” she writes. “By chance, Jimi Hendrix came up the stairs and found me sitting there like some hick wallflower and grinned.” He talked to Patti, revealing that he didn’t like parties either. “He spent a little time with me on the stairs and told me his vision of what he wanted to do with the studio. He dreamed of amassing musicians from all over the world in Woodstock and they would sit in a field in a circle and play and play… Eventually, they would record this abstract universal language of music in his new studio. ‘The language of peace. You dig?’ I did.” And then he was off, to catch a plane to England, from which he never returned. Smith read the news of his death about a month later while on a trip to Paris.
But when it’s time to record a single, it’s Robert who pays for the studio time at Electric Lady. For the recording, they choose “Hey Joe”, a song made famous by Hendrix. While Jimi closed his set at Woodstock with it, Smith and co. use it to usher in the era of the punk rock seven-inch. Recording at Jimi’s place, “I felt a real sense of duty,” she told the Observer in 2005. “I was very conscious that I was getting to do something that he didn’t.” Though Horses’ de facto title track “Land” was famously inspired by William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys, the lesser-acknowledged last third—“La Mer (de)”—makes reference to Jimi (“In the sheets there was a man”), as well as Rimbaud. “Elegie”, the final song on Horses, is also for Hendrix: It was recorded on September 18th, the anniversary of his death. Moving on to Morrison, “Break It Up” was based on a dream Smith had about him covered in plaster—like a statue.
As has become her custom, Smith plays a series of shows at New York’s Bowery Ballroom to celebrate her birthday (Dec 30); this year she says hello to 64 and goodbye to a very good year indeed. “I think it’s sad, just too bad, that all our friends can’t be with us today,” was Smith’s “Elegie” for Jimi on Horses, its words closely echoing those from his “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” (“Well, it’s too bad that our friends can’t be with us today”) from Electric Ladyland. Though it is traditional for the sake of “Auld Lang Syne” to remember old friends and old times, the thing I most take away from Smith’s 35 years of merging poetry, music, and dead hero worship is her living example of artistry and vitality, perhaps informed by words given to her by Allen Ginsberg following the death of Fred Smith: “Let go of the spirit of the departed and continue your life’s celebration.” And may the language of peace go with you throughout the new year.
Source : crawdaddy.com