Patti Smith appeared Thursday night (Jan. 9) on The Tonight Show in support of her new book Year of the Monkey. Smith, who notes she rarely gets to speak on late-night appearances, dominates her interview with Jimmy Fallon with stories about her crush on Bob Dylan back in ‘74 and her discovery of Keanu Reeves’ massive popularity after an Instagram post with him. Here’s something you might have not known about the “People Have the Power” singer: She’s actually hilarious, and she has no idea how hashtags work.
Later, Smith performed a cover of the titular song from Neil Young’s 1970 album After the Gold Rush, preceded by an original, healing poem: “Yet I still keep thinking that something wonderful is about to happen, maybe tomorrow, a tomorrow following of a whole succession of tomorrows.” The cover, accompanied by longtime Patti Smith Group band member Tony Shanahan on keyboard, was a slow, powerful number that brought new, relevant optimism to the song. She lingers on the the closing lyrics, which she edits for modern resonance: “Look at mother nature on the run in the 21st century.” Fallon seemed speechless by the end, and Smith received raucous applause following her performance.
Her book Year of the Monkey is out now. See her performance and interview below, and hear a 1979 Smith performance from the Paste archives further down.