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Patti Smith returns to the stage

July 2, 1996
Web posted at: 8:00 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer Smith

NEW YORK (CNN) -- From R.E.M. to Natalie Merchant, many of today's influential musicians will tell you their earliest inspiration came from Patti Smith.

The woman known as "The Godmother of Punk" recently watched several loved ones pass away, and has turned those experiences into a new album that many reviewers are hailing as a masterpiece. (662K QuickTime movie)

Once upon a time, Patti Smith shook up the rock establishment in New York, in reaction to concerns that "rock and roll in the early '70s was getting a bit corporate," she says. She abruptly got a little domesticated, marrying MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, and becoming a Michigan housewife with two kids.

Over the last six years, two close friends, her brother and her husband have died. The loss inspired her new album "Gone Again," which she says isn't about endings, but new beginnings. Jackson

"A very beautiful thing about losing one's loved one, whether it be a husband a brother or a best friend, is that one's spirit becomes magnified by each person. I just seemed to grow through the loss of each person, because part of the best part of them I become enhanced by," Smith said.

One of her two children, 14-year-old Jackson, has also enhanced her life as he's grown into a talented musician.

"There is a beautiful example of one being magnified by one's spirit. Jackson picked up the guitar shortly after Fred passed away and taught himself pretty much, and he just flowered," Smith said. Smith playing guitar

Much of Patti Smith's early songwriting was difficult for a mainstream audience to swallow. By contrast, her new songs have reviewers gushing with praise. (97K AIFF or WAV sound) In fact, hardly anything she has done over the past 15 years has been received like this album. She says she doesn't know why.

"I can't account for it. It's kinda funny because I've never been much of a musician, and in the last months of his life, Fred taught me to play acoustic guitar, so I could write my own little songs. And it was really Fred's last gift to me, and one that I'll certainly cherish."

So will fans of Patti Smith.


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