Patti Smith remembers dear friend Sam Shepard: 'We were just ourselves'
Patti Smith has penned a stirring and poetic tribute to Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor who died from complications of ALS last week at age 73.
Writing for The New Yorker in a piece titled “My Buddy,” the punk icon reflects on her deep and enduring relationship with Shepard — a lifelong friend, onetime lover, and trusted creative collaborator.
“He would call me late in the night from somewhere on the road, a ghost town in Texas, a rest stop near Pittsburgh, or from Santa Fe, where he was parked in the desert, listening to the coyotes howling,” Smith writes. “But most often he would call from his place in Kentucky, on a cold, still night, when one could hear the stars breathing. Just a late-night phone call out of a blue, as startling as a canvas by Yves Klein; a blue to get lost in, a blue that might lead anywhere. I’d happily awake, stir up some Nescafé and we’d talk about anything.”
As Shepard’s health declined in his later years, Smith would visit him and help hone his final manuscript.
“We didn’t have to talk then, and that is real friendship,” she recalls. “Never uncomfortable with silence, which, in its welcome form, is yet an extension of conversation. We knew each other for such a long time. Our ways could not be defined or dismissed with a few words describing a careless youth. We were friends; good or bad, we were just ourselves.”
Read Smith’s full tribute at The New Yorker.