Patti Smith received the key to New York City today. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio presented the honor to the renowned singer-songwriter in person in a livestreamed ceremony.
In her acceptance speech, Smith talked about moving to New York City in 1967 where the poet and songwriter began working at a bookstore but became a key figure in the city’s punk movement in the 1970s, earning her the nicknames the Punk Poet Laureate and The Godmother of Punk. While Smith would move to Detroit in 1979 and married Fred “Sonic” Smith of MC5, she moved back to NYC with her children after Fred’s death in 1994.
Although it was “probably the hardest time” in her life, Smith said the city “embraced” her and “gave her another chance” to rebuild and “continue to evolve as an artist.” Patti’s speech revolved around what New York City has given her and she remarked, “I wish I could give New York City the key to me.” Smith also talked about preserving NYC’s history and architecture as well as the “small things” and more. Additionally, Patti and longtime collaborator and guitarist Lenny Kaye perform their co-write “Ghost Dance.”
Watch Patti Smith receive the key to New York City beginning at 26:31 in the video below: