To say that Patti Smith is a legend is an understatement, having been a leader of the punk rock movement back in 1975 with the release of her album, Horses. Her contributions to music have been enough to receive a key to New York City and she recently accepted it with a speech that acknowledges her powerful past.
The iconic poet received the award from Bill de Blasio on December 27, just a week after Spike Lee was also granted the honor. "This is an extraordinary pleasure and honor for me,” de Blasio said in the press conference. “Because for any of us who came of age in the 1970s and 1980s, there were many, many voices out there, many artists out there, many musicians out there, but there was only one Patti Smith."
In her own words, Patti Smith came to New York City with nothing and now she has the key to the city (and a cupcake for her birthday!)\n\nShe's given our city so much and gave a voice to a generation of New Yorkers. What an icon.pic.twitter.com/x0qH7wwgNL— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@Mayor Bill de Blasio) 1640661476
He continued, “Some have called Patti Smith the godmother of punk. I think it’s a fair phrase, because she inspired so many people, helped shape a whole movement — a whole artistic movement — and, in many ways, a political movement as well. Her work as a musician, as a singer, as a lyricist, as an activist — so many elements influenced so many people and showed people a way.”
Once Smith received the symbolic key, she spoke about her experiences, saying that "I wish I could give New York City the key to me." She added, "With all its challenges and difficulties, it remains — and I’m quite a traveler — the most diverse city in the world... To receive this at 75, it makes me look even more forward to the next 25 years.”
To cap off the legendary moment, Smith and her longtime lead guitarist Lenny Kaye performed their 1978 track, "Ghost Dance," to everyone in attendance.
Smith’s key is the latest in a long list of achievements that she’s unlocked for her work. Back in 2005, she was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Check out Smith’s performance for accepting the key to New York City, up above.
Photo via Getty