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patti smith on trampin'
page four




"Cartwheels," is an instant classic, as Smith sings a loving paean to a brown-eyed girl: her teenage daughter, Jesse. A simple yet enormously compelling musical backdrop is provided by Patti's longtime friend, guitarist and producer, Lenny Kaye. Once more a sanguine approach is evident in lyrics like, "the good world," and "don't let it bring you down."


Musically, "Cartwheels" is one of my favorite songs on the album. When Lenny Kaye first played his musical ideas for the song, how did it effect you?


Tibetian prayer wheel with Lincoln life mask
Photos by Patti Smith


PATTI SMITH: the music inspired the vision that produced the words.

Was a mother-daughter talk between you and Jesse part of the inspiration for "Cartwheels"?

PATTI SMITH: the words are quite literal, description-wise. it's from the perspective of a mother looking at her beautiful daughter looking at the world and at how overwhelming life is.

Besides inspiring "Peaceable Kingdom" did Edward Hicks painting also influence "Cartwheels" since there are the references to birds, beasts, rabbits and butterflies?


PATTI SMITH: no. i was trying to capture a haiku feel with the lyric clusters.

Was the "Cartwheels" title used in a metaphoric sense, or is Jesse actually proficient at doing cartwheels?

PATTI SMITH: the music suggested that word. no one is turning cartwheels.

In your four night stand at the Warsaw Theater in Brooklyn, you played all the songs from "Trampin' " except for "Cartwheels." Was that simply because you hadn't rehearsed it, or will it be a song like "Distant Fingers," that you seldom will be playing live?

PATTI SMITH: it has a complicated structure and we are still working on the arrangement. we will introduce it into the set soon.




What were the circumstances behind the photo of the daisy that Jesse is holding, that appears on the back cover of the album?

PATTI SMITH: i had been photographing african daisies. some time later i was about to remove them in their dead and dry state. jesse came in my space and i asked her to hold one. a little flash in a few moments and that was all. the light was with us.