Patti Smith on the Power of Rock and Roll: “It’s an idea of common expression”


Patti Smith is one of the keynote speakers and performers at Pop Montreal, a huge music festival/conference that kicked off here yesterday. When questioned about what rock and roll meant to her and what she felt rock and roll represented she said that “It’s an idea of common expression.” She elaborated by saying that wherever she tours around the world, rock and roll acts as a common expression, a form of universal language. From people wearing their CBGB’s T shirts on the floors of a club in Munich to crowds of strangers singing along to her songs by heart in Montreal, rock and roll is truly a universal form of expression.

How many times have you encountered a stranger and when you learn that the music that inspires them is the same that floats your boat? It’s like you know that person despite the fact that you have never met them before. Rock and Roll can forge a common bond amongst disparate groups of people; it is one of the amazing things about this particular form of music. Just think of all those weddings you attended where the songs that really got people out of their seats, and I mean everybody were old classics like the Beatles where everyone knows the lyrics to the songs regardless of their personal listening habits. You might hate “Twist and Shout” but dammit you will probably sing along to it whether you want to or not.

I don’t want to get all clichéd about this but you know that buzz you get when you are at a show and hundreds or thousands of people are passionately singing along to the music coming from the stage? In this day and age of death and destruction, it truly is a wonderful place to be. Rock and Roll might not be able to save lives but it certainly makes living the life you are leading worthwhile. Pretty cool huh?