“Same guy. I’m the same girl. Just a little older.”
On April 22, 2018, the Tribeca Film Festival premiered Horses: Patti Smith and Her Band, a black-and-white documentary that immortalized the final two shows of the tour celebrating that album’s 40th anniversary. The band performed a brief set after the credits rolled, and Springsteen shocked the audience when he sauntered out to perform with them -- an occurrence so rare it’s only one of a handful of times both he and Smith have sang their verses together.
Smith: I hadn’t planned to do a film. We did this Horses tour, and my drummer, Jay Dee, was diagnosed with cancer. He’s alright now, but those last couple dates were traumatic, because we found out. We had to sort of go off the road; Jay had to go through his treatments. He’s been my drummer since 1975, so I wasn’t going to do anything without him. Those two L.A. dates were our last Horses dates, and we had no idea we would be out of action because we didn’t know what the prognosis would be with Jay. So at the last minute I asked Steve [Sebring, director], “Will you film this so we have something archived?”
Jimmy Iovine, once again -- the same Jimmy that handed me that cassette -- I love things like this, it’s like fate again. He comes backstage at the last concert… He loved the concert. He was thrilled with it, happy, excited. He said, “I wish we filmed it. Why don’t we do another?” I told him, “We can’t do anymore -- but we did film it; we sort of rag-tag filmed it.” Steve and I had done all this backstage footage. He said, “You mean you have this night?!” I said, “Yeah, in our way.”
He talked to Apple and they agreed to fund whatever it took to make it a film, which was a lot of technical work. We only had what we had, and that required a lot of editing. We agreed, Apple funded us, and really, it’s a nice arrangement, so they’ll stream it for awhile. Eventually it’ll be our little film and then we’ll do what we do with it. Because of Jimmy and because they gave us the resources, we were off the road, had to regroup and it gave our people some work to do.
Tribeca heard that Steven was doing this and asked if we wanted to show it, and that was exciting enough. Right at the last moment, someone from Apple talked to someone from Bruce’s people unbeknownst to me, and it was a sort of a surprise for me. They didn’t ask me! Believe me: Bruce works really hard. In fact, I was really pissed at them. I said, “This man works on Broadway, what, six days a week, and he has one day off, and you’re gonna ask him to come here on his day off?!” They said, “No, he’s in town! He’s happy to do it!” I scolded them! They thought I was gonna be in heaven, and I said, “How could you do that to him?!”
Bruce came to the rehearsal that day and everybody was happy to see him. We did our rehearsal, and “People Have the Power” was going to be the next song, and I said, “Play on “People Have the Power! You’ve performed it!” I thought, I had one of those moments... [She tears up] I’m there onstage with my daughter, my son, and Bruce doing “Because the Night” and “People Have the Power,” and I just know Fred would’ve loved to have been there playing -- and I know his amp would’ve been just a little louder than Bruce’s. Bruce’s was the loudest, but I know Fred would’ve made his just a little louder. It started with a Horses moment, but it ended, as many things do, as a Fred moment.
It was great. I loved it because, the thing is, Bruce and I, our roots, no matter what successes he has and how we’ve evolved, we’re just the same people. He sauntered on the stage and I can recognize who we are. Sometimes, people change. Same guy. I’m the same girl. Just a little older.