Belfast Telegraph

Patti Smith pens moving tribute to Sam Shepard

The former couple had a long-lasting friendship.

Singer-songwriter Patti Smith has penned a moving tribute to her collaborator and former romantic partner Sam Shepard after the playwright and actor died aged 73.

Smith, who was friends with Shepard for almost six decades, wrote a short essay for the New Yorker focusing on their relationship, titled My Buddy.

She wrote: “We had our routine: Awake. Prepare for the day. Have coffee, a little grub. Set to work, writing. Then a break, outside, to sit in the Adirondack chairs and look at the land.

“We didn’t have to talk then, and that is real friendship. 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.

“The passing of time did nothing but strengthen that. Challenges escalated, but we kept going and he finished his work on the manuscript. It was sitting on the table. Nothing was left unsaid. When I departed, Sam was reading Proust.”

Smith recalls Shepard’s love for Samuel Beckett and how he quoted the poet off the top of his head in 2012 as they met in Dublin where he was receiving an honorary doctorate from Trinity College.

She added the actor and playwright 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”.

She said: “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 Nescafe and we’d talk about anything. About the emeralds of Cortez, or the white crosses in Flanders Fields, about our kids, or the history of the Kentucky Derby. But mostly we talked about writers and their books.”

Shepard, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Right Stuff in 1983, died at his home in Kentucky on July 27 due to complications with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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