Patti Smith Remembers Tom Verlaine

Patti Smith at The New Yorker:

He awoke to the sound of water dripping into a rusted sink. The streets below were bathed in medieval moonlight, reverberating silence. He lay there grappling with the terror of beauty, as the night unfolded like a Chinese screen. He lay shuddering, riveted by flickering movements of aliens and angels as the words and melodies of “Marquee Moon” were formed, drop by drop, note by note, from a state of calm yet sinister excitement. He was Tom Verlaine, and that was his process: exquisite torment.

Born Thomas Joseph Miller, raised in Wilmington, Delaware, he left his parental home and shed his name, a discarded skin curled in the corner of a modest garage among stacks of used air-conditioners that required his father’s constant professional attention. There were hockey sticks and a bicycle and piles of Tom’s old newspapers strewn in the back, covered with ghostly outlines of distorted objects; he would run over tin cans until they were flattened, barely recognizable, and then spray them with gold, his two-dimensional sculptures, each representing a rapturous musical phrase.

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