I’ll be honest, before I read this memoir, I did not hold Patti Smith to as high of regard as I should have for all these years. Patti Smith is a role model, a leader, and a legend. I do not even know where to begin with Patti Smith. Her unconditional love for Robert Mapplethorpe and unconventional look on life is truly only made possible by an amazing person. I think the fact that this novel takes place during the aids epidemic and that it involves poetic scenes of starving artists in New York makes all of Patti’s experiences personal to readers. This story took place in the recent past, and today Patti is still doing what she does best, making art.
In the Patti Smiths memoir, we see her exploring who she is as a person and discovering her soul with Robert Mapplethorpe by her side. Their relationship was the main emphasis of the memoir, and man, was it heartbreaking. Here is a letter I wrote to Patti in response to her love for Robert:
You are the definition of a pillar of strength. To fall in love, and be in love, outside of a physical understanding is truly remarkable and unheard of in today’s society. Granted, the story of you and Robert happened nearly 25 years ago, as you said in Just Kids, your artistic life collaboration together will continue forever. I believe this as fact. Also, I love the moment when your other love, Fred, says that in every photo taken by Robert, you and Robert look more and more alike. I believe this truly speaks to how connected you and Robert will forever be.
I sometimes wonder to myself, if it is weird to be in love, but not in a physical manner. It’s a little strange, but your story gives me hope for myself. Sometimes it seems impossible to escape a lust-filled relationship, so much so, that the initial idea of love itself seems like an extreme phenomenon. But you and Robert are different. And you two give me hope. And thank you so much for that, I feel like I can finally be content with myself, knowing that love is… you and Robert. Even though you never had children, thank you so much for the tremendous legacy you both left for future generations. Without you, I would be just a little more lost in this world, and I excited to discover the rest of my journey, keeping you and Robert in mind.
The following is a prompt designed to test our “musical medical doctor expertise”, we were each given a problem to help solve through the power of music.
Dear Musical MD DJ ChaCha,
Your friend recently lost their eyesight, and they are searching for ways to imagine and visualize the beauty that they lost. You strongly believe in the power of music, and the visuals it can stimulate and inspire within one’s mind and soul. Create a short playlist of five songs that you believe creates beautiful imaging and colors when heard. Music that will ease and help your friend rediscover color and sight through music.
Dear music-lover in need,
Sorry about your traumatic experience. Though, the power of music can give you a new sense of sight. It is important to appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t have. Allow music to be your eyes, and channel memories that allow you to feel free from medical misfortunes.
One way to do this is to accept the reality of your situation, and realize that the same lesson you are learning has been taught to many great musicians, musical geniuses, and loyal music fans. This includes artists such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Alan Pineda Lindo Jr. (from The Black Eyes Peas), all of which are legally blind or sight impaired.
I hope the knowledge that you are not alone helps you cope with your new lifestyle. But if the following songs don’t help you on your new journey, find a friend who can help you track me down. Here is a 5-track song-prescription using multiple genres and ages of tunes, lets get to the music.
No Rain – Blind Melon
This song is about being able to stand up to the world, even things seem at its worst. You roll with the punches, and life wouldn’t be exciting without a few mishaps.
I Don’t Need No Doctor – Ray Charles
This title speaks for itself. Independence is key.
Runaway – Pell
Talk about a track that speaks of coping with the situation you were handed. A little sad melody, but by the end of this song you’ll be singing “All good, tell em’ back home it’s all good.”
She Belongs to Me – Bob Dylan
The lyrics and rhetoric in this song will make you very happy. Listen to Bob’s poetic writing, and the harmonic ain’t bad either. 🙂
Still The Greatest – Bone Thugs N Harmony
You still the greatest, spits those verses let the world know who they messing with!
There was one rock musical that stood out to me. Though Hair was my next pick, the 1975 film that stuck with me was Tommy performed by The Who. Wow, what a great musical. A kid is paralyzed at a young age, forced to be recognize as “deaf, dumb, and blind”.
Tommy is actually conscious throughout his life and witnesses the cruelty invoked by others, including his parents, who sometimes find him as a burden. After Tommy, who is played by Roger Daltrey, wakes up from his paralyzed state, he turns into a monster pinball player and a religious (cult) leader. Everyone believes that Tommy is so great and awakened; they all must become “deaf, dumb and blind” to reach the same euphoria.
One scene particularly stood out to me. Citizens are coming to the realization that Tommy’s born-again religious camp asks guests to wear blinding and deafening gear to play pinball to achieve greatness, but when the audience does not reach enlightenment like Tommy, they get angry and destroy the whole cult camp.
Fires are set off, pinball machines destroyed, all while the crowd sings “We’re not gonna take it”. I think this movie is extremely powerful, and speaks to levels of “crazy” that only The Who were able to establish. The fact that Tommy was trying to make money off of his unfortunate state provides morally wrong behavior. And all those people in the crowd were unrealistic. Everyone needs to watch this movie, it is one of the best cult/musical movies out there.
This is a list of questions I asked my randomly selected partner Michelle. She has a good taste in music and had some surprising answers ranging from hip hop to oldies. Thanks for being my quiz taker Michelle! You definitely have a funky taste in music!
What genre of music best describes you?
FUNK. Funk will always are forever be my favorite, just because of its sassy-ness and upbeat tempo. There’s no dance moves like some funk moves!
1. When you were between the ages of 5-9, what was your favorite song?
“It Wasn’t Me” By Shaggy was my favorite. It was on my Now 4 CD my parents gave me and we would always listen to it in the car. My Dad would always sing along as the low voice that says “wasn’t me.”
2. Describe your favorite bands from middle school.
Oh Middle School…. This was a interesting time for me. I got into a lot of weird stuff but I was suuuuuper into All Time Low. Boy bands, the swooped hairstyle, tight jeans? I loved it!
3. When you someone says Kanye Vs. Eminem, how do you respond?
I respond by shaking my head and walking away…
4. ACDC or Led Zeppelin, why?
ACDC if I’m trying to cause and ruckus and fuck shit up, but Led Zeppelin will always be good- especially on road trips.
5. Define the word, “music”.
Music is the expression of emotions through sound and vibrations.
6. When you workout what music do you listen to?
When I do work out… which is not very often… So when I go skiing I get down to some Gorillaz. Ohhhhh they so funky!
7. What was your first concert?
Jonas Brothers with my best friend in 7th grade, her older sister and mom. I lost my voice from screaming that night and cried when Nick Jonas talked about his diabetes. My first legit concert I went too that wasn’t a pretty little boy pop band, was 311, Pepper, and The Offspring at Red Rocks in 8th grade with my brother and his girlfriend (now wife). It was the first time I smoked weed with my brother.
8. What three bands do you plan to introduce to your future kids?
Umphreys McGee, String Cheese Incident, and Lotus. I chose those because they all straight kill it and hopefully they will still be alive and touring by the time I have kids. I will totally be that mom that brings their kids to their first concerts when they are like 3.
9. Do you appreciate MTV?
No, I do not. Not one bit. If it stands for “Music Television Network” … Where’s the music?
10. What is your favorite music related movie?
It’s a tie between two. “Across the Universe” will always be a classic because of the wonderful actors and the legendary music of the Beatles. But then there is the mockumentary “Electric Apricot” written by the great Les Claypool. That movie is just straight hilarious and it rips apart and makes fun of just about every sterotype in the ‘jam band or Grateful Dead culture.’ As a festival goer, a lot of what they pick fun at is pretty accurate and freakin’ funny.
11. How do you feel about electronic music?
I like certain types of electronic. I’m super into trip- hop funky stuff kind of like Pretty Lights. Glitch I think is so creepy and so awesome I like the alien noises they make; an example of this is Thriftworks. And then there is Temple-Step which is super weird spiritual sounds, like Kaminanda. I can’t stand trap (unless I’m wasted), and the Dubstep shows are way too much for me now. As a security guard at a music venue, I hate working EDM shows because of all the fucked up minors that don’t respect the venue or the audience.
12. Biggie or Tupac and why?
BIGGIE SMALLS! Just because he has so much more swag, and his music is catchy. I never found Tu-Pac as catchy.
13. Dolly Parton or John Cougar Melloncamp?
Honestly I don’t even know who John Cougar Melloncamp is so I’m going to go with Dolly Parton. Just cuz.
14. What radio station do you listen to most?
In Durango, KDUR because I’m part of it! Growing up in the front range though, I really liked KBCO. I actually interviewed the 3 main radio dj’s there for a career project in high school.
15. Define hipster.
I was a hipster before being a hipster was cool.
16. What prompted you to take a music writing class?
I love music, and love communications! It was a perfect mix of the two things I am good at and enjoy!
17. What do yo listen to when you clean your room?
I usually switch it up whenever I clean my room. But out of all the times I’ve cleaned, I would have to say Talking Heads was blasted at full volume the most. I’m always dancing and singing while I clean and the Talking Heads are perfect for that.
18. Do you like to dance… or mosh?
I like to dance because dancing feels like letting your soul and body free! Moshing it too dangerous for me because I am extremely accident prone and fragile.
19. how do you feel about Rolling Stone Magazine?
I like reading Rolling Stone Magazine when I’m bored. It isn’t something I avidly read, though. I think they have a bunch of great material, but quite often it is commercialized.
20. If you were on your deathbed what song would you listen to?
Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gee’s because the funk will never die, even if I do.
The following tracks are love songs that stood out in conjunction with Valentines Day. Some of these are more throwback than others, but all have an element that will make you reminisce the good ol’ love days.
Ja Rule Ft. Ashanti – Mesmerize
I had to. I remember listening to this song as a little kid. Both Ja Rule and Ashanti were soundtracks of those days, when I didn’t pay attention to song lyrics. But even now, “Mesmerize” provides a beat you can easily bob your head to. It was between this song and “Always On Time.”
DMX – How’s It Going Down
One of those songs that emphasize falling in love but has a sad twist that breaks two lovers apart. DMX steals another mans girl, and in the end she chooses the baby daddy. This song has a flute melody during the chorus, and is catchy right off the bat. Sorry for the excessive booty shots, this was DMX’s artistic decision.
De La Soul – Eye Know
This is definitely a feel good jam. De La Soul samples Otis Redding in this track, and is one of those songs that everyone should grow up with. The whistling gets me every time.
Murs – The Break Up (OJ Song)
Murs is one weird guy. But, like everyone else Murs has experienced heartache. Listen to his story, the loop in the background is legit. Plus, if you’re sick and tired of reminiscing of your EX, Murs helps you come to a sad/violent realization in the end. But its all good and fun.
Method Man Ft. Mary J. Blige – You’re All I Need
Not sure why I’m putting this song on here. This song gave me an nervous/eerie feeling, so here it is. Sorry for the weirdness. Happy Valentines Day!
(I do not condone corporate holidays)
**VALENTINES BONUS SONG**
Forget being lonely on Valentines, go out and meet some new squeeze, with the help of Sean Paul, because Sean Paul is awesome. Bitches.
The first time I ever spoke live on-air, I was extremely nervous. I remember trembling as my friend Remi reminded me “you only have 30 seconds left Charine!”.
My hands were sweaty as I grabbed the PSA I was about to read, and I remember clearing my throat, but that did not help the shakiness in my voice.
21 seconds left.
I took one last look at all the buttons below my hands and the microphone I was was about to kiss with my less than pleasant radio tone.
15 seconds left.
Remi said “put on your headphones!” I grabbed the headphones, mistakenly putting down the PSA I failed to read-through before going on air. “Make sure your levels are good! Remi said.
5 seconds left.
I turned up the microphone channel and began to speak. “KDUR-DURANGO” I looked at the time stamp on the screen to the right, breathing into the microphone. Then I read, “The time is 3:01, 36!”
Dammit. Did I really just read the seconds. Nobody gives a fuck about the seconds! I sound like a complete noobe. But radio is all about seconds, I tried to forgive myself in time to read the PSA and to press play on CD Player 2 for the first song on our track list.
I held onto that bright shade of pink I had on my face long enough for Jon Lynch, the Program Director, to come into the studio and tell me “great job! Next time try not to breath into the mic!”
At least there was nowhere to go from here, except up.
I have had a radio show ever since this moment, and I am currently the Hip Hop Music Director at KDUR.
DJ CHACHA: Thanks you for letting me interview you Lio D, are you ready to talk about some music?
LIO D: Always ready, darling!
DJ CHACHA: Thats what I like to hear. As some may know you are my cohost, but also my guest DJ for this music blog. So tell me, what do these five songs we are about to talk about mean to you?
LIO D: And just so you know, I’m terribly nervous. I’m also eating an orange, round objects in my hands tend to calm me down.
DJ CHACHA: (Laughs) well good thing you have an orange. When thats gone I got two more melons for you. Ok, back to the question.
LIO D: These songs, to me, represent the vast force that music is. Though all of these songs were released before I was (laughs), I’d like to think I’ve grown to love and appreciate them just as much as the old folks out there.
They’re all stories, such richly written and created stories. And they’ve lent themselves to my life, so to speak. In a way they wrote my story before there was one.
DJ CHACHA:Thats awesome. It seems music has the ability to connect generations, even the ability to define a generation even before that happens. But, i know it takes especially great songs to help define you Lio D.
Lets begin with the first song on your list, tell me about “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones.
LIO D: Oh, that is spot on. I’d like to think of myself as a person who has lived before, even if in
some other plane of existence (probably the sixties though, just saying)
Though I am a huge Stones fan, this one song has always stuck out to me. It has a sense of strength and fire in it, in the story itself. But this story also wields a great amount of sadness and vulnerability. This song makes me think of my dad.
My dad, before his passing, used to break wild horses for rodeo shows. Some of my earliest memories of my father are his hands and how dirty they were after he’d tend to shoeing and caring after the horses hooves.
In a way, my dad was just that, a wild horse. A creature of strength, pride, and fury but also timid, cautious and stern. There’s a dreamlike quality when it comes to this song. When I dream of my father I hear his voice and off in the distance, the thunder of the hooves of 100 wild horses.
DJ CHACHA: Thats really beautiful. Was it you’re dad who introduced you to the Stones?
I love how music can channel old memories, and keep people alive through melodies and storytelling.
LIO D: No, actually it was my mom. I have to say that my mom is my biggest inspiration when it comes to the music I love, but sometimes I surprise her by looking more into music, some she hasn’t heard herself but grew up around the time it was being released.
She thinks I’m some kind of time traveller who seeks only music and its magic. And yes, music has a great ability to remind you of times and things and people that you may be afraid you would forget.
DJ CHACHA: Wow thats really awesome surprising your mom in that way. Im sure your mom is proud of the musical exploration you have done.
Lets move on to your next song by Lana Del Rey “Sad Girl”.
Thank you, you’re too fucking sweet!
Oh, Lana, Lana, Lana, where do I begin with this woman. She is just completely mesmerizing in every single way. Though I’ve known about her for quite some time now (I proudly take the credit for introducing her to so many people) her latest album was complete and utter perfection in every sense of the word.
The track Sad Girl makes me feel like I can relate with her on an entirely new and different level.
She’s sad, I’m sad. She’s beautiful, I like to think I am just a little (laughs).
DJ CHACHA: I’m sure Lana appreciates you very much, also. And you are beautiful Lio!
LIO D: But in all seriousness I have the upmost respect for artists who aren’t afraid to let the public know that they feel, they hurt, just like the rest of us. And that track let me know that I’m not the only one who gets hurt over men and their bullshit.
Lana has taught me a lot of things, a lot about myself. And one of those things is to own your sadness.
Just don’t let it ever lower who you are and how much you mean to yourself. there’s a sad girl in us all a girl who’s been hurt, who’s trusted, who’s been way too nice, but she is always capable of feeling and providing love.
DJ CHACHA: Thats a very powerful concept. One that many people have a hard time grasping. Im glad Lana was there to help provide you with direction in this way! Music is powerful.
Now, CCR ” Someday Never Comes”.
What does this song mean to you?
LIO D: CCR is a band that has been solidified in my life. From an early age my mom would completely lose her shit and jam out to their amazing songs.
This song in particular is quite sad. It also reminds me of my father, of being on the ranch with him, and of the last time I heard him speak.
The song seems to be speaking to great loss, the loss of a person whose importance would never be acknowledged because the person who lost them wasn’t able to articulate what that person meant to him.
It’s about looking to the future, but being completely terrified of it. of what we will gain, but mores what we will lose.
DJ CHACHA:Was this song able to help you grieve for your father? Or maybe help you define the importance he still has on your life?
LIO D: As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that my father’s absence from my life seems to be proving more and more important. It’s like I can feel him everywhere, in other people, in photos and in feelings. This song is unbelievably important to me. It is beautiful and it has transcended time. But it also saddens and terrifies me.
DJ CHACHA: Understandable. Im sure your father is always looking over you. Lets talk about Betty Everett “Shoop Shoop”.
LIO D: Thank you, god, everything got quite sad there for a moment, didn’t it? lol
Ok, let’s do it! This song, I only heard for the first time a couple years ago.
I heard it at my grandma’s house on her record player me and my cousins were experimenting with.
DJ CHACHA: That’s an awesome way to come across a song!
LIO D: We were trying to figure out why the volume wasn’t working and we were all getting really frustrated. My grandma, already limited to her wheelchair, rolled up like a complete boss, fixed whatever was wrong and this song belted from the two wooden speaker boxes. It was the cutest thing ever!
DJ CHACHA: Haha thats adorable! I bet your grandma was happy to help.
LIO D: The song in itself is just extremely cute to me and yet it is so soulful. I think it speaks to time when love was simple, when it had a level of innocence about it. In my opinion, it’s hard to find that kind of love nowadays.
Everything is so technical and there are terms for everything. This song is about simply being in love with someone and the feelings you get when you’re with them.
Everything about this song is fucking adorable. I use this song to aspire to the type of love I hope to feel one day.
I want to feel exactly what it is that’s in his kiss, in his arms, in his embrace. (laughs)
DJ CHACHA: (Laughs) Que Cute!
LIO D: (Laughs) It’s all gay, I know.
DJ CHACHA: No I don’t think love is gay, Lio. (laughs) But I really admire the innocense that’s hard to find in love these days. We will get there.
Talk to me about the Patty Smith Group song “Because the Night”.
LIO D: Well you know from being my co-host, that this song is my number one, go out there, have fun, fuck the haters and the rules, anthem.
DJ CHACHA: (Laughs) Yes, but why is that Lio D?
LIO D: Patti Smith is a complete genius and an icon in my life. She has a way with words that like no other, she’s full of fire, of might, she doesn’t believe in borders and she is completely, artistically raw. And that’s where her magic and this song’s magic comes from. The night, a place and time that belongs to the lovers, that belongs to all of us.
She is a master, a legend, but what inspires me most about her, is that she realized long ago that she is not conventionally beautiful. This really hit home for me because I never recognized myself as conventionally beautiful either.
But I guess we all have a beauty about us, and Patti taught me that when searching for what makes you beautiful, look no further than yourself, your mind, your heart and your spirit.
This is a song we can all get down to, and tell me, who doesn’t like that?
DJ CHACHA:Well, I do have to say Lio D, you have a very fine taste in music. I love that Patty is a guide in many peoples search for beauty, including yours.
Thank you so much for being my guest today, is there anything else you would like to add?
LIO D: Oh hell yeah, girl! Follow me on instagram @lioknowsbest (laughs).
Thank you for having me!