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Listen to Patti Smith’s Glorious Three Hour Farewell to CBGB’s on Its Final Night

CBGB is a state of mind – Patti Smith

All good things must come to an end, but it hurts when CBGB’sNew York’s acclaimed — and notoriously dirty — music club closed for good on October 15, 2006, a victim of skyrocketing rents on the Lower East Side.

While many punk and new wave luminaries cut their teeth on the stage of the legendary venue – talking heads, The Ramones, blonde – The last honors went to Patti Smitha CBGB regular whose seven-week stay in 1975 landed her a major record deal.

In her National Book Award-winning memoir only children, Smith described her first impressions of the place when she and her guitarist Lenny Kaye drove downtown to meet her friend Richard Hell’s band, TVafter the premiere of the concert film, Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones at Ziegfeld:

CBGB was a deep and narrow room on the right, lit by overhanging neon signs advertising various brands of beer. The stage was low, to the left, flanked by photographic murals of turn-of-the-century bathing beauties. Backstage was a pool table, and beyond that was a sleazy kitchen and a room where the owner, Hilly Krystal, worked and slept with his saluki, Jonathan…

It was worlds away from Ziegfeld. The lack of glamor made it feel all the more familiar, a place we could call our own. As the band played on, you could hear the billiard cue hitting balls, the barking of Salukis, the clinking of bottles, the sounds of an unfolding scene. Though no one knew, the stars aligned, the angels were calling.

Some 30 years later, Kaye prepared for it Farewell to the CBGBtold The New York Times“It’s like it bred its own barnacles:”

You couldn’t replicate the decor in a million years, and dismantling all those layers of music archeology in the club is a daunting task.

The Village Voice noted that it was “a crazy, emotional night for everyone in the crowd and for everyone on stage,” and the New York Times reports how Smith documented it club awning with a Polaroid and declared, “I’m sentimental…”

But Smith, who actively encouraged young fans to resist worshiping the club’s reputation when they could start their own scenes, also fought back sentimentality, telling the crowd: “It’s not a bloody temple – it is what it is .”

That may be so, but their three-and-a-half-hour performance above was still one for the history books, from the opening reading on piss factory (I’ll be somebody, I’ll get on that train, go to New York City / I’ll be so bad, I’ll be a big star and I’ll never come back) To the final in memoriam recitation (Joe StrummerJohnny DonnerStiv Batorsjohnny, JoeyAnd dee dee ramon)

Smith made sure other artists who helped set the scene were represented in their setlists below, from Blondie and Lou Reed to television and the dead boys:

piss factory 0:22

Kimberly/Tide is high 12:40 p.m

light blue eyes 20:30

Lou (Reed) had a gift for taking very simple lines, “Linger on, your pale blue eyes,” and making it grow on their own. The song has always haunted me. (The Associated Press)

Marquee Moon/The Three of Us 29:02

TV will help wipe out the media. You are not a theatre. Neither the early Stones nor the Yardbirds. They are powerful images, born of pain and speed and the fanatical desire to make it happen. They’re inspired enough below the belt to prove that SEX isn’t dead in rock ‘n’ roll. (rock scene)

Distant Fingers 38:48

Without chains 47:50

We had emotional responsibilities and I respected that. But I also thought it was important to make a song like that. (Rolling Stone)

ghost dance 55:30

bird country 1:00:08

sound reducer 1:11:52

Redondo Beach 1:16:00

free money 1:20:44

Pissing in a river 1:28:27

give me shelter 1:33:50

I thought of the words to it: “War, kids, it’s just a shot away.” To me, a song like this is more meaningful than ever. (Rolling Stone)

Space Monkey 1:43

Blitzkrieg Bop / Beat on the Brat / Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio? / Sheena is punk rockR 1:48:30

Isn’t it strange 1:55:20

So you want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star 2:02:11

Babelog/Rock n Roll N – – – – – – 2:10:17

Happy birthday to flea 2:21:38

for your love 2:22:15

my generation 2:27:22

Country/Gloria 2:36:51

Although I wrote the poem in 1970 at the beginning of Gloria, it took all these years to develop and meld into Gloria. And that was pretty much done at CBGB. We recorded Horses in 1975 and did all the groundwork at CBGB. (Rolling Stone)

elegy 2:55:57

As I read this little list, these people seemed alive in that moment because of the intense emotional energy in that room. Everyone in the room knew, heard, or loved one of these people. This collective love and grief and appreciation made these people seem as alive as any of us. (Rolling Stone)

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Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of the East Village Inky Zine and author, last by Creative, not famous: The Small Potato Manifesto And Creative not famous activity book. follow her @AyunHalliday.



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