Rocker Patti Smith, 'Dream Of Life'

Working on a factory assembly line in New Jersey, a young Patti Smith had no idea she'd end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Smith And Sebring

Steven Sebring and Patti Smith in Detroit in 1995. Steven Sebring hide caption

itoggle caption Steven Sebring

In fact, as a teenager, she dreamed of being an opera singer, like Maria Callas, or a jazz singer, like June Christy or Chris Connor.

Instead, Smith found herself fronting her own punk rock band. The Patti Smith Group released their first album, Horses, in 1975.

Smith has since released multiple records, and "Because the Night," a song she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen, reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Smith and photographer-turned-filmmaker Steven Sebring talk about their POV documentary about her journey, Patti Smith: Dream of Life. They spent 11 years shooting footage, which features many of the friends and poets who inspired her, from William Burroughs to Michael Stipe.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Young Patti Smith left her home in rural South Jersey determined to become a poet and an artist in the big city.

(Soundbite of movie, "Patti Smith: Dream of Life")

Ms. PATTI SMITH (Rock Artist): New York is the thing that seduced me. New York is the thing formed me. New York is the thing deformed me. New York is the thing that perverted me. New York is the thing that converted me. And New York's the thing I love, too.

CONAN: That's an excerpt from a documentary that starts to air tonight on PBS as part of the "POV" series. It's called "Patti Smith: Dream of Life." In a largely black-and-white kaleidoscope, the film swirls back and forth in time to describe her defiant career as the godmother of punk, the early days at CBGB's and the Chelsea hotel, her friends and lovers and collaborators, her band and her family, painful losses. And those who know only the power, fire and rage she can bring to the stage will find another side of Patti Smith.

Acclaimed photographer Steven Sebring followed her over for more than 10 years to complete his first documentary. It's called "Patti Smith: Dream of Life". The director and his subject join us in just a moment. If you'd like to talk with Patti Smith about her music, her art or the culture of rock and roll, give us a call. We will - we all know that many of you are great fans. She knows that, too. So, if you have a question, the phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, President Obama has acknowledged that a systemic failure allowed a would-be suicide bomber aboard a transatlantic flight to Detroit on Christmas. Who should be held accountable? But first, Patti Smith and Steven Sebring join us from our bureau in New York. And thanks so very much for being with us. And Patti Smith, happy birthday.

Ms. SMITH: Thank you. Thank you. It's very nice to be talking to everyone on my birthday.

CONAN: And Steven Sebring, I have to ask you, after 10 years of working on a project, sometimes you start to think maybe that novel's never going to get finished.

Mr. STEVE SEBRING (Photographer, Filmmaker): It felt like that sometimes, but I kept loving it. So...

CONAN: Now, tell us about the origins of this. I understand you were assigned as a photographer to go shoot a picture of Patti Smith.

Mr. SEBRING: Yeah in 1995, Spin magazine sent Patti a list of photographers, and luckily, I was one of them. And I went to Detroit as a matter for the first time.

CONAN: And I've read that, in fact, you got so interested in the conversation, she had to remind you to take a picture.

Mr. SEBRING: Yeah. Do you remember that time?

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SEBRING: We were drinking coffee all day along.

Ms. SMITH: I felt like Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face" - take the picture, take the picture.

Mr. SEBRING: I got eight rolls of film off, I think. That's all I needed.

CONAN: And I've read, Patti Smith, that you said at one point, when you were about a 50 or so, that, well, you weren't too interested in having a documentary made of your life. You haven't done enough yet.

Ms. SMITH: Well, that's how I felt. I felt that I had - you know, documentaries to me are often a retrospective, what an artist has achieved. And I wasn't so certain that I had achieved enough to merit a documentary, but Steven offered to shoot our comings and goings on his own. He was not invasive. He was like a brother shooting us. And, you know, I felt the least I could have is some really wonderful home movies of my children and my parents and William Blake's grave, or wherever we went. So, I had nothing to lose and a lot of support and inspiration working with Steven.

CONAN: And there is remarkable footage of your children, and we see them grow from kids into young adults.

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

CONAN: And from people with strange obsessions to people who are wonderfully poised and performers, too.

Ms. SMITH: Yes, they're both musicians. I'm very proud of both of them.

CONAN: Can't imagine how that happened.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: There is also a great scene with your parents in your - well, I don't know if you call it your hometown, but it's where you spent a lot of your childhood growing up in South Jersey.

Ms. SMITH: Yes, I knew that I could take Steven to visit my parents because I knew he would appreciate them and find just the right moments to film them. And they were delighted, weren't they? They were happy to be filmed.

Mr. SEBRING: It was really delightful to go. I was really happy Patti asked me to go.

Ms. SMITH: And they didn't live much long after. So it's a beautiful - it was a beautiful opportunity to have them always so present.

CONAN: There's a great scene with you standing in your backyard, talking with your dad about the trees who had been planted - that he'd planted or your brother had planted, the bushes that were planted by your sister. Whatever happened to those?

Ms. SMITH: Well, after my father passed away, my mother had to sell the house. So, hopefully, someone else is attending to them. But my father, my favorite part is when I asked him if he planted a particular tree and he said, no. Nature planted it. It just grew there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: But, he said, but I was happy because I wanted a tree. So nature gave me one. He was a beautiful man.

CONAN: And your parents obviously had come to terms with who you are and who would had become to be, not always the case that they were ready to embrace the culture of rock and roll when you were younger.

Ms. SMITH: Oh, my father hated rock and roll - hated it. My first real argument with my father was over the Rolling Stones. And he never, ever liked rock and roll. He just liked me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Did they go to your concerts?

Ms. SMITH: My mother went. My mother loved rock and roll. She loved high-energy music, and even when she was 80, she was still coming to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park to see me and the Bowery Ballroom. And my mother had all kinds of fans. My father came a couple of times, but he always blamed his hearing loss on my loud amplifiers. So he didn't come anymore, but I had his support.

CONAN: Steven Sebring, the reason you were able to do this over such a long period of time and cover so much of the life of this singer, songwriter, artist, poet is that you did this as a self-financed film. You were under no pressure to finish it.

Mr. SEBRING: Yeah, I was actually not even thinking of making a film, actually. I was dabbling in film at the time, with 16-millimeter film. And I looked at Patti as, like, oh, this is my experiment. So�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Thanks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SEBRING: So, I learned a lot making a film and shooting film. And I enjoyed it. And she inspired me in so many different ways, in so many facets that I just kept wanting to film her.

CONAN: There's a moment in the film, Patti Smith, you're sitting in a corner of your bedroom, I think it is, and you're saying I'm going to sit here in this corner with my stuff until you finish this picture.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Yeah, I went on strike.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: I told him, I was going to - because the editing took a long time. But really, it - I'm grateful for the film, because it documents a very specific time in my life. I was telling Steven the other day that not many young photographers would come along and spend so much time documenting a woman between the ages of 50 and 60.

CONAN: Hmm.

Ms. SMITH: He devoted his time and, you know, found beauty in what we did. And I found that now having that, it's a very precious time. It was a time of great loss for me. I had lost my husband and my brother and my friends. I was a widow with two children who had to return to public life, and what could have been such a terrible and difficult time had its great joy. And it was nice to have someone aboard who, you know, kept - had so much enthusiasm and documented this time that became, out of the wake of sorrow, a very positive time.

CONAN: Let's get some listeners involved in the conversation. Our guests are Patti Smith and documentarian, I can now say, Steven Sebring, whose film "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" debuts tonight on the "POV" series on PBS. And let's see if we can go first to John, and John's with us from Laramie.

JOHN (Caller): Hi, Patti, how are you?

Ms. SMITH: Hi, John. Nice to talk to you.

Mr. SEBRING: Hi, John.

JOHN: Thank you. Thank you. I want to just congratulate you and really thank you on a great career. You've just brought so much happiness to everybody over the years, and you know, your fans have really appreciated you.

Ms. SMITH: Thank you.

JOHN: And you should feel really good about that, Patti. And the other thing: How did you like Gilda Radner's impersonation of you on "Saturday Night Live"? We've always really enjoyed that.

Ms. SMITH: Well, my band thought it was hilarious. When I was younger, I - it sort of bothered me because, you know, she makes a big thing about, you know, I think it's like the white powder and the vast amounts of cocaine in the recording studio. I had never even had cocaine. It wasn't how - it's not how I work. But I thought it was actually hilarious besides that. She was a great artist.

It was - actually, it was a privilege to be played - it was a privilege to have Gilda Radner project what she thought I might be like. And the funniest part was since there was a big controversy over the armpit hair on the cover of "Easter," she brushed the hair under her arms, and I think she had like a foot of hair coming from her armpit, and we were all laughing so hard.

She was a great artist, and cocaine or not, I salute her. And I feel very lucky to have been, you know, portrayed by Gilda.

CONAN: There's a moment in this film I found interesting where you brush your hair, and it's not something that people think you much do very often.

Ms. SMITH: I do, occasionally.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: I brushed it today, actually, brushed it and braided it for my birthday. So - I mean, I go in spells. If I'm really working on something, writing or painting or really concentrating, I don't even think about brushing my hair. But, you know, sometimes I have something special coming up, and I have a very nice hairbrush, actually.

CONAN: We're talking with Patti Smith this hour. The documentary that followed her for over a decade is called "Dream of Life." She great up, as she mentioned, with music in her house. Her mother was a jazz singer, but she didn't think she was going to sing rock and roll when she was growing up.

(Soundbite of movie, "Patti Smith: Dream of Life")

Ms. SMITH: When I was a teenager, I dreamed of being an opera singer like Maria Callas or a jazz singer like June Christy or Chris Connor, or approaching songs with the kind of mystical lethargy of Billie Holiday, or championing the downtrodden like Lotte Lenya. But I never dreamed of singing in a rock-and-roll band. This idea, it just didn't really exist in my world. But my world, as it's been said, was rapidly changing.

CONAN: An excerpt from "Dream of Life," a "POV" documentary, two hours long, that debuts tonight on PBS stations across the country. If you'd like to talk with Patti Smith, 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION From NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Tonight, PBS begins to air "Patti Smith: Dream of Life," a two-hour documentary in the "POV" series about the poet, artist punk-rocker and firebrand.

(Soundbite of movie, "Patti Smith: Dream of Life")

(Soundbite of applause)

Ms. SMITH: My mission is to communicate, to wake people up, just to give them my energy and accept theirs. We're all in it together, and I respond emotionally as a (unintelligible), a mother, an artist, a human being with a voice. We all have a voice. We have the responsibility to exercise it, to use it.

CONAN: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith and director Steven Sebring are with us from New York. If you'd like to join the conversation: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org. Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And Steven Sebring, I wonder. How much - there's two hours in this documentary. How many hours of film did you shoot?

Mr. SEBRING: I never counted, actually. There's a lot of film that didn't make the cut, actually. Fortunately, we were able to put a lot on the DVD extras.

CONAN: Ah-ha.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SEBRING: So - which is always fun. So we ended up doing that. But there was a lot of stuff, but, you know, dealing with, like, publishing rights and things like that kind of steered me in certain areas, and - but I have to say, I think pretty much most of the best stuff is in the film.

CONAN: I wonder, as a still photographer, that's what your career is, what did you find more challenging, trying to shoot the film or trying to edit it?

Mr. SEBRING: Shooting it, actually, because I was by myself, pretty much the whole time. And a lot of times...

Ms. SMITH: Heavy camera.

Mr. SEBRING: It was a heavy camera. My wife would travel with me a lot, and -but a lot of times, you know, I would be filming something, and I would have -my camera would roll out of film, and that was always sort of disappointing at times. Patti, could you just wait for a moment? I have to reload my camera.

Or I'll forget to put the sound on or something like that. But at the end of the day, it made the editing much more creative, working with what I had and bringing Patti in to help, you know, in the collaboration. So it all worked out really cool that way.

CONAN: Patti Smith, there's one moment in the movie where you put your hand up and say oh, you've got to stop the camera now.

Ms. SMITH: Yeah. That was when we first started, and I was just - you know, I do have an agitated side. So I was also just starting to perform again after 16 years. So I had a lot of edgy energy, and I don't actually like being filmed and shot a whole lot. You know, it makes me feel confined. But, you know, as time went by, you know, Steven, like I said, he's like a brother. I never thought about it, you know, after a certain time. It was, you know, it was like second nature having him around.

Mr. SEBRING: And most of the time, I didn't have a camera.

Ms. SMITH: Yeah. It's like he - I don't think he had the money or the - to be shooting all the time. But he was...

CONAN: I did notice there's a credit, though, for additional photography by Patti Smith.

Ms. SMITH: Yeah, I shot a little bit of the sea and things like - you know, every once in a while, I'd say let me shoot some, and he'd help me hold the camera. And usually if it's just the sea or some kind of terrain, it might be a moment or two of me. He was being kind in giving me a credit.

CONAN: Letting you play with his toys, yes. Let's get Carolyn(ph) on the line. Carolyn's calling from Duluth.

CAROLYN (Caller): Hi, Patti, happy birthday.

Ms. SMITH: Oh, thank you.

CAROLYN: What an honor it is to speak to you and Steven. I've been a fan since I was 15. I'm 46.

Ms. SMITH: Wow.

CAROLYN: And when "Easter" came out, and I was blown away by it. And as a young girl, you were very inspirational to me, and still are to this day. I've seen you six times, and I'm in a little - a couple rock-and-roll bands up here, but you're just, like, go to staple music all the time, and I just try and turn everybody onto you. And it was really, you know, your poetry and everything that you do is just - it's inspirational, and it always makes me feel good, like the earlier caller said.

And the documentary was such a - I have the DVD, and it was such a wonderful peek into your life. And I appreciate Steven and you letting us see that part of your life. It's personal, and...

Ms. SMITH: Well, thank you.

CONAN: I should say the film is shown at, what, 30 festivals or so, and I know it won an award for cinematography at Sundance.

Mr. SEBRING: Yeah. It did. Well, thank you very much for supporting us.

CAROLYN: Thank you, and my question is: Patti, when are you coming to Minneapolis, Minnesota, again?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Well, it's really funny that you should mention that, because my good friend Tony Glover, who's from Minnesota just asked me that...

CAROLYN: He played with you the last time I saw you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: He just asked me that question. He sent me birthday wishes. And so I'm certain that - I have a new book coming up, so perhaps I'll visit on my book tour, but I send my hello to everyone.

CAROLYN: All right. Well, thank you again. Keep on rocking in the free world.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Okay.

Ms. SMITH: Thanks.

CAROLYN: Bye.

CONAN: Interesting, something you said earlier, Patti Smith, that after your husband died, you had to go back to public life. And we think of, you know, rock-and-rollers who've had these great careers and all these albums, and, you know, great hits as not needing to work.

Ms. SMITH: Well, I mean, I quit - in 1979, when I quit, I quit on the cusp of that type of success. And even though I have enjoyed a lot of public success and recognition, I haven't even had a gold record in America. You know, my -I've never been on that level.

CONAN: So you make most of your money touring?

Ms. SMITH: Yes. And I was just at the very beginning of perhaps having some type of financial success, and in giving it up, that limited our income. But we didn't mind that. Fred and I lived a very simple life, and we were frugal. We studied. We weren't - we had everything we needed. But when Fred passed away, I could no longer live like that in Michigan.

I don't drive, and Michigan is a motor city. It's a driver's city, and I needed to come back to New York, bring my children, and New York had changed quite a bit. It was a much more expensive city. And I had to regroup and find a way of making a living for myself and two children in New York City.

CONAN: Let's go next to Steven, Steven's calling us from Kansas City.

STEVEN (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi, Steven. You're on the air.

Ms. SMITH: Hello, Steven.

STEVEN: Hey, what's going on?

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEVEN: I'm a South Jersey boy, too, so you - rural South Jersey, like you.

Ms. SMITH: Yeah, where are you from?

STEVEN: I'm from Little Egg Harbor, (unintelligible).

Ms. SMITH: Wow, that's fantastic. I'm from Deptford. So it's...

STEVEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, over there by Philly.

Ms. SMITH: Exactly, yeah.

CONAN: I'm an alien from Englewood, the other side of the state.

STEVEN: Ah, Englewood, oh, my gosh. Englewood Cliffs. My (unintelligible) my uncle used to have a jobber. He was a jobber. He had a warehouse there.

CONAN: Okay. You got a question, Steven?

STEVEN: Heck, yeah, man. You know, Patti, your terse style poetry, where did you, like, where was the inspiration - or where'd that come from? Because I have to tell you, for 35 years, I've been emulating you in one way or another.

Ms. SMITH: Well, I mean, when I was younger, I loved all kinds of poets, but a performance-style of poetry, it was a combination of Gregory Corso, Vachel Lindsay, Walt Whitman, very - Oscar Brown, Jr. I got my style from a lot of different people, even my style of reading, even Johnny Carson inspired me.

CONAN: Johnny Carson?

Ms. SMITH: Just a very frontal style, to get up in front of the people and read, improvise a little, spar. So my style of performance poetry came from the beatniks, Allen Ginsberg.

STEVEN: Yes, Ferlinghetti.

Ms. SMITH: Yeah, but really that kind of frontal energy, you know, I gleaned from a lot of different factors, not just poetry.

STEVEN: Right, right. It's so cool because when I smile, right now, you know, I'm filled with anxious apprehension. It's - the loneliness is emptiness. It's just a void. It's so cool to talk to you.

Ms. SMITH: Well, thanks a lot.

CONAN: Thanks for the call, Jersey Boy.

STEVEN: All right. You take care now, all right?

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Ms. SMITH: Okay, bye-bye.

CONAN: Here's an email from Tom in Tucson. Please tell us a little bit about working with William S. Burroughs.

Ms. SMITH: Well, I didn't work with William so much as just sort of be with him. I really loved William, and we did read, though. William and I did perform together. We performed together in Amsterdam, in New York City, and we just took long walks, talked. I just - I adored William, and I just liked to be with him. I could just sit and watch him type...

CONAN: Hmm.

Ms. SMITH: ...or we would sit and read books together. And so, I - and when I think of William, I don't think of working with him so much, it's just being with the human being that I loved.

CONAN: You say in the film that he was aware you had a crush on him.

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Yes, he was very aware but I think it amused him.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. Let's go to Laura(ph). Laura with us - she's driving in south Georgia.

LAURA (Caller): Hi. How are you? Headed to north Florida, isn't it great?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Yes. Are you on - is it Route 1 or something?

LAURA: Oh, it's 19.

Ms. SMITH: Ah, okay.

LAURA: 19, through Thomasville, on my way...

Ms. SMITH: Okay.

LAURA: ...to St. Marks, Florida.

Ms. SMITH: Okay. Drive carefully.

LAURA: I wanted to share a little story with you. We've adapted the song "Gloria" to a local legend here in town, and the reason why we had to adopt it is we were having the Christmas boat parade and our friend Gloria was dressed up as Mrs. Claus. And in the local canteen where we have some adult beverages, we would always play her song. We'd have a great time singing "Gloria" out loud, the whole bar would.

And, anyways, back to the parade, little kids were yelling, Mrs. Claus, Mrs. Claus, and she wasn't paying them any attention because she didn't realized being dressed in full costume that she was supposed to pay attention.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LAURA: So those of us on the boat yelled, Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A Claus, and that got her attention, then she realized she was supposed to throw candy to the kids.

Ms. SMITH: That is quite a tale.

LAURA: And from this point on, for the past five years, anytime "Gloria" is played in the bar, we always yelled Claus after G-L-O-R-I-A.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: Well, now, I shall never think of it in the same way. I will always have that little Claus in my brain. Thanks for sharing your story.

LAURA: And you've been a great inspiration. As a 17-year-old, I watched you in concert, just love you and thank you so much and glad you're still rocking.

Ms. SMITH: Oh, thanks. Drive safely.

LAURA: Well, thank you. Take care.

CONAN: Bye, Laura.

Ms. SMITH: Bye.

CONAN: Have you ever talked to Van Morrison about your two different interpretations of that now?

Ms. SMITH: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: I heard through the grapevine that he wasn't completely pleased, but he doesn't - I mean, I think it's all right. I think he's probably got used to me by now. But I'm always aware that every time I sing it, it's his song. And I sort of adopted it but it's still his baby.

CONAN: "Patti Smith: Dream of Life," a documentary in the PBS POV series begins airing tonight, December 30th. And that, of course, is Patti Smith's birthday. She's with us from our bureau from in New York, along with the director of the film, Steven Sebring. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And we've gotten a lot of emails. I don't know if you heard it - a chance to hear the previous hour of the program, but we were remembering people on the show who died this past year, and our listeners sent us a lot of emails that mentioned Vic Chesnutt. And Patti...

Ms. SMITH: Yes.

CONAN: ...you knew him.

Ms. SMITH: Yes, I did. I - Vic is actually a very close friend of Michael Stipe's and my good friend, Jim Cohen, who's a filmmaker and whom I've collaborated with also artistically. And I've performed on bills with Vic. We've done festivals together. I've listened to his records. He was a great, great songwriter. His lyrics are just so intelligent and so provocative.

And, of course, we're all so sad to lose him. But I just feel that, you know, that Vic gave us everything that he could possibly give and he just wanted to go somewhere else. So, you know, God bless his journey. That's how I feel and play his records. Play them.

CONAN: Let's go to Joan(ph). Joan is calling us from Nashville.

JOAN (Caller): Hello, Patti. I wanted to wish not only happy birthday, but happy New Year.

Ms. SMITH: Thank you.

JOAN: And it was one of your New Year's shows, it was back in 1976 at the Palladium that changed my life.

Ms. SMITH: Oh, yeah. That was a great show. I still remember it.

JOAN: Oh, it was incredible. I had every intention of enrolling in school in Ohio, changed all my plans...

Ms. SMITH: Uh-oh.

JOAN: Yep. And...

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOAN: ...and moved to New York six months later. That was the day I got out of the Army. You were such an inspiration and I started my band a couple of years later. And I also, I made a doll for you and sent it to you when you were recuperating from breaking your neck.

Ms. SMITH: I got it.

JOAN: Yeah?

Ms. SMITH: It had a little white t-shirt on and...

JOAN: That's right. That's right.

Ms. SMITH: Yes. Yes...

JOAN: Yeah?

Ms. SMITH: ...we still have that. We still have it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: It's somewhere, but yes, I got it. Thank you. After all these years, thank you so much.

JOAN: That's wonderful. Thank you so much.

Ms. SMITH: It was really cool. Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOAN: Yeah, it had a little black silk raincoat on it, yeah.

Ms. SMITH: Yes. Yes, it was great. Thank you.

JOAN: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And you just meant so much to me. I'm still glad you're out there and I just - keep on writing songs and keep on making music and I'm glad you're doing exactly the same thing over there in New York, 'cause I'm in Nashville now, so...

Ms. SMITH: Well, God bless you. Nice to talk to you.

JOAN: Have a wonderful New Year.

Ms. SMITH: Thank you. You too.

CONAN: Joan, thanks very much for the call. We just have a couple of minutes left. Can I ask you what you - both, what your next project is going to be. Steven Sebring, are you going to start following Bob Dylan around now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SEBRING: I don't think he'll have me. I don't know. It would be interesting if he's seen Patti's movie, I don't know. But I've got some other films in the works. I'm excited to do more filming and I continue shooting fashion and - to make a living.

CONAN: Patti Smith, you continue to make a living, too.

Ms. SMITH: Yes, I'm working. I have a new book coming out in January that I wrote about Robert Maplethorpe and I, and it's called "Just Kids," and I'm very proud of that. Steven Sebring and I have a show at the Robert Miller Gallery on the 6th in New York City of our work. And I'm recording a new record, so lots of work for me.

CONAN: This one's going to go gold.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SMITH: That would be a first. I would be - that would be really exciting to have a gold record. But just for me, I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to do "Horses" and have a record of my own. I'm still really happy. So, however good it does, I'm glad to have the opportunity.

CONAN: Patti Smith and Steven Sebring, thanks to you both and good luck with your project.

Ms. SMITH: Thank you.

Mr. SEBRING: Thank you very much.

CONAN: "Patti Smith: Dream of Life" premieres tonight on PBS as part of their POV series. Check local listings for start times. And Patti Smith and Steven Sebring joined us from our bureau in New York.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.