The first time I read 'Just Kids'
Sophie Lou Wilson
I finished reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids last weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. I miss it. I yearn to be back in it. I wanted it to go on and on and on. I didn’t want it to skip any details. It was real and it had all happened in this world. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and Allen Ginsberg and Edie Sedgwick and Bob Dylan were/are real people. That golden age will never return, but I suppose all golden ages pass and that is the tragedy of time.
Another tragedy of time is the human tendency to see the past through rose-tinted glasses. The Chelsea Hotel was iconic but many of the residents, including Patti and Robert, were desperately poor. At times, they were living off one sandwich a day between them because that was all they could afford. Addiction and suicide frequently haunted the artists who lived there. But still, I imagine all that hope and energy produced by all those artists and writers living in the same place.
Just Kids isn’t really a love story although Patti and Robert loved each other. It’s an ode to their friendship. It’s not a typical music biography. It’s not just Patti’s story. It’s their story which makes it even more beautiful. I loved finding out what some of Patti’s songs are about and how many of her early ones started as poems. More than anything else it inspired me to pursue my dreams even if it means living off half a sandwich a day for a while. After all, it was Patti Smith who said, “Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.”