On May 31st, Why Patti Smith Matters, by journalist Caryn Rose, arrives at quality bookstores everywhere. Following the success of memoirs and collections like Just Kids and M Train, Patti Smith has legions of fans both new and old who will love Caryn Rose’s clear-eyed and music- focused contextualization of Smith’s creative work, her influence, and her wide-ranging and still-evolving impact on rock and roll, visual art, and the written word. The first book about Patti Smith written by a woman, Why Patti Smith Matters is a contemporary meditation on the artistry and influence of one of our most important artists still working today. Smith, the daughter of a factory worker, has attributed her array of endeavors as “work” and characterizes her performances as “jobs.” – Rose shows the significance of her work ethic on popular culture. Rose notes, “I was eager to take on the formidable task of chronicling Patti Smith’s career because aside from Smith’s own work, the existing scholarship didn’t possess the kind of informed, careful perspective of her life and art that it deserves.”
Why Patti Smith Matters is the first book on Smith with comprehensive, original research and primary sources, one of whom is Bruce Springsteen, who gave the author an exclusive interview on the making of their hit song, “Because the Night.”
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. She is also the author of Gas, Food, Wifi: On The Road in the American Southwest, Raise Your Hand: Adventures of an American Springsteen Fan in Europe, One Girl, One Team, One City: The Best of metsgrrl.com, 2006-2012, A Whole New Ballgame and B-Sides and Broken Hearts.
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.
Rose goes deep into Smith’s oeuvre, from her first album, Horses, to her acclaimed memoirs operating at a surprising remove from her music. The portrait of a ceaseless inventor, Why Patti Smith Matters rescues the 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.