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Patti Smith | Photo by Jesse Ditmar

Today is the great Patti Smith‘s 69th birthday, and as our friends at Philebrity pointed out earlier, what better way to celebrate than by listening to the punk poet’s engaging and inspiring talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia?

Smith was on a book tour in support of M Train, a new memoir released earlier this year, and she spoke before a packed auditorium (and packed overflow room) on November 6th. She took questions from Laura Kovacs, associate director of author events at the Library, as well as from the audience, and covered a range of topics in the hour-plus conversation, from writing to music to life.

We hear Smith reflect on her landmark debut LP Horses and how she’s changed since: “Some of the lyrics I wrote when I was 20,” she says. “I’m now 68 years old. I would hope I’ve evolved since Horses.”

She also tells a story about nervously meeting author Haruki Murakami earlier this year, and shares that the first time she felt the calling to pursue a creative life was actually at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at age 12, where she and her family wandered the halls from a John Singer Sargent exhibition to a gallery of Picassos.

We also hear off-the-cuff moments where she recounts the famous “Stonehenge” scene in Spinal Tap (seriously) and sings happy birthday to a member of the audience.

Stream the podcast here, via the Free Library. It’s an hour and change in length, but well worth setting aside the time. For more Patti Smith goodness, revisit our Free at Noon tribute to Horseshere.

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