At a tribute to Nico two years ago, Patti Smith sang “I Will Be Seven,” one of the last songs that the Velvet Underground associate wrote. The performance, streaming below, also featured Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, and the ambient-music trio Soundwalk Collective and it will be coming out officially on September 2nd on an album titled Killer Road. Rolling Stone premiered the title track from that show in June.
“I Will Be Seven” opens with the sound of birds chirping outdoors and eventually the musicians begin playing ambient sounds. “I will be seven when I meet you in Heaven,” Smith chants before reciting poetry about sounds of nature. The outdoorsy sounds were culled from field recordings Soundwalk made in Ibiza where Nico died.
Nico performed “I Will Be Seven” at her final concert at the Berlin Planetarium in June 1988. The original song, which is jammier, also featured ambient background music à la Velvet Underground, as well as an emphasis on funky rhythms as she begins singing “Do do do do” where Smith now recites poetry.
Nico died on July 18th, 1988, a day after she collapsed while riding her bike in Ibiza.
Jesse Paris Smith spoke with Thump, which premiered the track, about what the project has meant to her. “Reading the poems over and over again and performing them was kind of a way to get to know her personally,” she said. “Talking to my mom about stories and learning how much my dad liked her albums made me want to listen more. Now, when I listen to her music I feel much differently about it.”
Nico once expressed her admiration for Patti Smith, as was reported in the Smith biography Dancing Barefoot. “She was a female Leonard Cohen when she moved from writing to singing, and I liked her because she was thin and strong,” she said.