Saturday, July 29, 2023

Quote of the Day (Patti Smith, on Mesmerizing Musician Tom Verlaine)

“I went to see Television whenever they played, mostly to see Tom [Verlaine], with his pale blue eyes and swanlike neck. He bowed his head, gripping his Jazzmaster, releasing billowing clouds, strange alleyways populated with tiny men, a murder of crows, and the cries of bluebirds rushing through a replica of space. All transmuted through his long fingers, all but strangling the neck of his guitar.”—American singer-songwriter and memoirist Patti Smith, on guitarist, songwriter, and Television frontman Tom Verlaine (1949-2023), in “Postscript: Tom Verlaine,” The New Yorker, Feb. 13 and 20, 2023

I never followed Tom Verlaine’s music, whether as part of Television in the Seventies or as a solo artist in the Eighties, so I didn’t take much notice of his death this January.

But I was instantly struck by Patti Smith’s extraordinarily vivid description of her lover from their punk-rock days, and wanted to share with readers how she elevated this mini-portrait to high art.

(The image accompanying this post, a 1977 publicity photo of Tom Verlaine promoting Television's debut album, Marquee Moon, on Elektra Records, was taken by Roberta Bayley and distributed by Elektra Records, then scanned by Yahoo Japan Auctions.)

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