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Patti Smith: 'Lou Reed Was a Very Special Poet'

Smith tells David Fricke that Reed's live process was a 'revelation'

Patti Smith and Lou Reed.
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
October 28, 2013 5:25 PM ET

Over the last 24 hours, there's been an outpouring of tributes to rock pioneer Lou Reed, who passed away on Sunday at age 71. Today, David Byrne shared a memory of his time with Reed during his band's early days. Punk rock icon Patti Smith, who ran with Reed in the same downtown New York City scenes in the Seventies, spoke to Rolling Stone's David Fricke about his passing — and specifically how he still inspires her live performances:    

Look Back at Lou Reed's Incredible Life in Photos

Lou was a very special poet – a New York writer in the way that Walt Whitman was a New York poet. One thing I got from Lou, that never went away, was the process of performing live over a beat, improvising poetry, how he moved over three chords for 14 minutes. That was a revelation to me.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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