Bucket list. It’s a term I hear a lot these days, as I am attuned to it through circumstance. There’s even a bucket list festival put on by the Cancer Clinic where I hang out more than I like.
I’m not so sure about the concept. On the one hand there’s the idea of ‘list’, which suggests life can be reduced to a list of things to tick off and then it’s done. Not my kind of thing.
On the other hand there’s the bucket. It’s a certain size. It contains so much but never quite enough. And if you don’t work it, it stays empty. That I get more than ever.
So at the coffee shop last Friday I pick up the LA paper and in the listings the first entry is ‘Patti Smith Group at the Wiltern, 8 PM’.
It’s 11 AM, the Wiltern is at least 2 hours away, down the number 10 – the ugliest freeway in the world.
That’s 2 hours there and 2 hours back on the ugliest freeway in the world. Oh well, maybe next time, I think. And then immediately I say to myself ‘Who am I kidding? What next time?’
So I hustle home, get on the internet, buy tickets and tell my friends, “road trip to LA.”
The drive was fine. Only one major jam and one missed off ramp that meant a dodgy detour through downtown LA, then back on Wilshire straight to the Wiltern just past McArthur Park – where the cake was left out in the rain.
It was my first time at the Wiltern, a lovely venue, all art deco and grand in a slightly seedy kind of way. There was no opening act and Smith and her four piece band took the stage pretty close to 9, opening with a slightly ragged and bouncy Kimberley. Nice.
Have I mentioned how much I like Patti Smith? I have a few records that I’ve worn out – gone through four or five copies, wearing the grooves down to nothing. Horses is one, along with Exile on Main Street, Blood on the Tracks and London’s Calling.
Second song was a favourite off the new record – April Fool. A great sexy love song with a sweet Tom Verlaine solo. And then everything started to flow – great new songs like Fuji-san, old sexual incantations like Gloria, ruminations on death and love like Maria off the new album and Dancing Barefoot off an earlier one.
Two hours and not one bad song, plus good stories, advice and exhortation and Flea and Johnny Depp playing out Rock and Roll Nigger to close the show.
Seeing Patti Smith may have been on my bucket list, but ticked or not it will never come off.