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Critic's Notebook: Patti Smith's 'Woolgathering'
Critic's Notebook: Patti Smith's 'Woolgathering'

One thing I've always admired about Patti Smith is her refusal to be characterized. Rocker, poet, artist, mother: She seems to inhabit each of these roles almost effortlessly, moving among them as if the only difference was in our heads. And why not? For Smith, they all come out of the same impulse, a kind of ecstatic self-engagement, in which the line separating life and creativity, the mundane and the mystical, is an illusion, a border we create to bound ourselves. "Oh, God, I fell for you," she sings at the end of her 1979 song "Dancing Barefoot," and since the first time I ever played that record, I've heard this as a prayer, a benediction, as if it were God...

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