Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Patti Smith speaks out against Margaret Thatcher's funeral expenses and plans second memoir

 Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith, returned to Britain last month for three intimate acoustic performances in the North of England. 

Speaking to her backstage at Burnley Mechanics before her first show, coincidentally the same day as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, Smith spoke of her disgust at the amount of money that was spent on the funeral in relation to all of the government cuts.

“I think it’s terrible… terrible”, she begins. “It doesn’t matter who it is that they were honouring. It doesn’t matter whether it was Martin Luther King. I don’t think Martin Luther King, or anyone who cares about the people, would have wanted to see a government spend £10m in their name.”

“The people, in the end, are paying for that. Anyone who is there for the people would not want all of that money spent on anything but the people. Especially in these times; we have such difficult economic times. To take away from children’s education or the arts, which are so important. Ten million pounds could take care of a lot of things… it is such poor judgement, I think.”

“There are so many ways to honour the dead. If she is beloved by some people, then let them remember her in their daily lives. I just think it’s wrong.”

Smith is famous for her outspoken views and political activism. In her documentary film, ‘Dream of Life’, she famously indicted George W. Bush for “… squandering a vast federal surplus, while giving tax breaks to the rich.”

None the less, Smith believes that such a grand funeral would not have taken place in her native America. “I can’t imagine that. The grandest funeral I can remember was the Kennedy funeral. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t opulent. They had a black coach and a horse and four, like Abraham Lincoln did, and the family walked behind.”

“I know that, for instance, Mother Theresa wouldn’t allow the Nobel Prize people to throw a party in her honour. She wanted the money they would spend on the party to go to the people. It just seems like common sense to me.” 

In other news, Smith, who won the National Book Award for non fiction with her 2010 memoir 'Just Kids', which documents her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, is planning another book. 'It's [set in] more or less the same time frame, although it sort of bleeds into the early 80's. But it's not centered on Robert. 'Just Kids', I wrote for Robert; he asked me to write it and it was really filtered through my relationship with Robert and Robert's evolution as an artist.'

'This one would be, perhaps, more autobiographical and have more to do with the evolution of the records, performance and, really, what I did in life. But it would be in the same time frame.'

James Nuttall
Photographs from Facebook