Love, Pursuit, Pain

When I listened to the “Because the Night” I heard the passion in Smith’s voice. However, her voice also had a sense of agony that sort of scared me. Whenever she said the word “love”, I felt like this. This is ironic because love is supposed to be something that is good and pure; however, in this song love seems like an animal. The song starts off slowly and begins to build up after the first stanza. After reading about Patti’s life, I feel more able to recognize some of the emotions in her lyrics and voice.

“Chelsea Hotel” reminded me of a country song made for New York. This song talks about a woman much like the women in “Just Kids”. Most of the hotel’s occupants were trying to be legends and they often used each other to help build their career. The singer says “I need you, I don’t need you…I don’t even think of you that often”. These lines make me wonder because I am not sure whether the man actually loved the girl in the song or if he had initially used her in building his career.

“Just Kids” shows a wide range of emotions and stories. These two songs do a good job in capturing some of the main scenes in the memoir including love, being in the hotel, and pursuit. One feeling that reflects all three pieces of art is pain. In the book, both Robert and Patti go through a lot of anguish while “Chelsea Hotel” talks about the loss of a potential love. Finally, “Because the Night” does talk about love but this love seems forced and selfish because it is described as “hunger, fire, and lust”.

– Linda Manchery

1 thought on “Love, Pursuit, Pain

  1. I agree completely. Having a bit of insight into Patti Smith’s personal life definitely has caused me to look at her music differently. The tone of her voice leads me to believe that she is either hurting or is very passionate about this lover that she is speaking about. It could very well be Robert Mapplethorpe, but it could also be someone else.

    I researched the song “Chelsea Hotel,” because I too was curious as to who Leonard Cohen was singing about. In a 1994 broadcast on BBC, Cohen admits that the song was written about an intimate encounter than he experienced with Janis Joplin. He regrets associating her name with the song and states that “…it’s an indiscretion for which I’m very sorry, and if there is some way of apologising to the ghost, I want to apologise now, for having committed that indiscretion.” As this probably does not clarify your confusion as to whether Cohen actually loved her or was just using her, it may help to understand the song a little bit better.

    Overall, I do like that your point that pain is shown in not only the two songs, but in the memoir as well. As the Spanish proverb says, “Where there is love, there is pain.”

Comments are closed.