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Patti Smith Hits the Big Screen in Untraditional Rock Doc: Exclusive Clips

July 30, 2008 5:05 PM ET

From 1996 to 2007, photographer Steven Sebring periodically filmed Patti Smith as she traveled the globe playing concerts, visiting the graves of poets and hanging out with friends like Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe. The end result is Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a film that opens on August 6th in New York and in other cities soon after. With no interviews, little narration and a non-chronological story line, the atmospheric film is not a traditional rock documentary. "Filming over so many years was great because the scenes are like they came out of her memory," says Sebring. "It's like her Alice in Wonderland."

(Click above to watch exclusive clips from the film, including Smith prepping for a show with Bob Dylan and performance footage, and keep reading to check out the trailer).

Sebring first met Smith when he went to shoot her for Spin magazine in 1995, shortly after her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 died. "We immediately had a connection," he says. "She's this cute, low key, attractive girl offstage. When I saw her onstage at Irving Plaza she was a completely different woman, spitting and spewing out poetry. I was like, 'Holy shit.' I was looking for an outlet to film somebody. I convinced her to let me start filming her. Years and years of just showing up. Once there was the trust factor, she started to invite me to show up and film her."

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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