I was luckily turning adolescent when an amazing crop of cool female pop stars was emerging. Chrissy Hynde was beautiful and tough as hell. Eye liner and boots and a guitar. AND she wrote her own songs. Joan Jett was so cool, tough, played guitar and wrote songs as well. Debbie Harry, goddess, no need to say much else. Could you get any cooler, beautiful-er or make any better songs. Wendy Williams was the only one taking off her clothes and she did it with such rage and glamour. She was revolutionary. The Go-Gos were awesome AND an all-female band. Poly Styrene, another goddess, was breathtaking in her presence, her song writing, and her voice. Her band was too. But arty Patti Smith was the one I identified with the most.
In grammar school I was an awkward skinny Irish-looking kid with freckles and oversized red plastic glasses with transitional lenses and a lame Farrah flip from the boroughs but I wanted to, maybe even thought I did, look like my arty hero, Patti Smith. Good luck, child. I wore a white shirt with the cuffs cut off and a black tie just like she did on the cover of Horses. Other days I wore a hand-dyed magenta tee shirt that I wrote “patti smith group” (no capitals) on with a black magic marker.
Anyway, I have told this silly story before but not quite like this. Patti was the soundtrack to my first kiss. I was a freshman in high school with great anxiety about never having kissed a guy yet. Read on if you dare:
I was out with my older sister and some friends looking for something to do. It was around one a.m. when we wound up over at the Left Bank, a club in New Rochelle.
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” Patti Smith was singing as we walked in. The song introduced our entrance, like in a film. The loud record crackled over the PA and sounded larger than life, yet so personal and intimate. Just like the first time I heard this record, I find it hard to describe the perfection, joy and beauty. My heart was like a butterfly in my chest and my breath stopped for a beat. Breath wasn’t even necessary, I was so filled and sufficed with sound. I can remember the smell in air, the color of the light. It was surreeal
“I’m moving in this here atmosphere where anything’s allowed,” Patti sang.
Other than the great song, the club was dead, nothing was going on, just a bunch of people milling around waiting for something to happen.
“And I go to this here party and I just get bored”…the song continued. We were there for a few moments when a stocky drunk blonde guy cornered me and started talking to me. I was with my older friend Tina who had been drinking, and her slurred voice in my ear asked if I needed any help losing the guy. I said no. The guy kept talking to me, moving closer and close.
“Hear this knocking on my door. And I look up into the big tower clock and say 'oh my god, it’s midnght’ and my baby is walking through the door, leaning on my couch she whispers to me and I took the big plunge”… Patti kept singing as the guy pressed me against the carpeted wall and kissed me.
“I I I I I I I"
"G-L-O-R-I-A.” Patti kept spelling it out for me. Yes, the guy tasted like sour kraut and hotdogs, which they sold in the club. I hated hotdogs. He tasted gross and I didn’t like him at all. He stuck his tongue in my mouth and made out with me. I did nothing but receive his kiss and listen to my soundtrack while a million things went through me mind...
“And I heard those bells/chiming in my heart/going ding dong ding dong/ding dong ding dong.” So this is what a kiss is. Halle-fucking-luia! The song was almost over. The slow heavy part near the end was grinding in…
“Tower Bells Chime. Chime yeah they chime. They’re singing Jesus Died for somebody’s sins….” Patti pauses and whispers quickly “but not mine”. The drums kick in. One of my sister’s friends grabbed my arm and pulled me away from whoever that guy was and that was that. My first kiss was over with. What a relief. I had been so worried about never having been kissed, so worried about possibly doing it wrong when it finally happened and being found out for the old un-kissed maid that I was. Finally I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. The relief was G L O R I O U S! I couldn’t wait to brush my teeth. Thank you stranger.
And, thank you- all you women in music superstars who influenced my life in such grand ways and still do. I love you all.
I have already posted that song on my blog so go find it yourself if you need to hear it. I'm posting this one instead. http://youtu.be/LvoV2Lfk7Qg