Patti Smith, New York City Punk Rock Institution, Received The Key To The City

Say what you will about Bill de Blasio’s tenure as the Mayor of New York City, he got this one right. On December 27th, the mayor awarded the key to the city to punk music icon, poet, author, and overall inspiration to many, Patti Smith. “I wish I could give New York City the key to me, because that’s how I feel about our city,” Smith said in a ceremony yesterday.

“This is an extraordinary pleasure and honor for me, because for any of us who came of age in the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were many voices out there, many artists out there and many musicians out there, but there was only one Patti Smith,” de Blasio said. He cited Smith’s “ability to cut through all the swirls that were around us and speak some more profound truths” and that it’s a “a fair phrase” to call Smith “the Godmother of Punk.”

In her acceptance speech, Smith spoke to what the honor means to her:

“I was thinking this morning, when I learned of this honor. What have I done in NYC, what have I given NYC to earn this? But most of all I kept thinking of what NYC has given to me,” she said. “I came here in 1967 from a real rural area of South Jersey. I had just a few dollars in my pocket, and no real prospects. I came here to get a job and to see what I was made of. And I found that the city, with all of its diversities and possibilities, if you’re willing to work, if you maintain your enthusiasm, you’ll make it.”

De Blasio will give way to Eric Adams as Mayor of New York City on January 1st, 2022. But in addition to Smith, his final weeks as mayor has seen him bestowing a key to the city to figures like Spike Lee, Clive Davis and Chuck Schumer.