It was in 1967, on her first day in New York, that 20-year-old aspiring poet Patti Smith met fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Their friendship, romance and creative collaboration began on that day and lasted until Mapplethorpe’s death in 1989. Both children of religious upbringings and influenced by ideas of outsider culture, the pair would stay up painting and listening to records in their Brooklyn apartment before Mapplethorpe eventually moved to San Francisco. In the course of their friendship, Smith would become a punk icon and Mapplethorpe a famed photographer. Smith’s new memoir, Just Kids, tells the story of their 22-year friendship. She joins Fresh Air for a conversation about her career and her singular relationship with Mapplethorpe.
The populations of rural communities in the United States continue to dwindle, especially among the young and college-bound. Philadelphia-based authors and sociologists PATRICK CARR and MARIA KEFALAS – he’s an associate professor at Rutgers-New Brunswick, she’s an associate professor at St. Joseph’s University – join us to discuss their new book, “Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America.”
Wall Street Journal drama critic TERRY TEACHOUT says innovative jazz composer and trumpet player Louis Armstrong “has done more than any other performer to shape America’s collective personality.” Born in New Orleans to a poor, 15 year old domestic and prostitute, Armstrong grew into one of the most famous people in the world. Many people attribute Armstrong to popularizing jazz throughout the world, characterizing him as a jolly, humble and sunny presence that inspired generations, both musically and spiritually, almost forty years after his death. TEACHOUT’s new book is called, “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.”
Best known as the frontman for indie sensation Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth recently launched a solo career to carry on his tradition of wry, eccentric rock ‘n’ roll. After graduating from Connecticut College in 2000, he became involved with CYHSY, which quickly rose to underground stardom with a highly successful self-released debut. Ounsworth recorded two albums in 2009, one with Flashy Python (a group featuring members of Dr. Dog, The Walkmen and Man Man) and the other a solo album titled Mo Beauty. For Mo Beauty, Ounsworth traveled to New Orleans, where he collaborated with local jazz and R&B musicians. These partnerships expanded Ounsworth’s sound, complementing his traditionally high-pitched vocals with rich, brassy undertones. Here, he performs songs from the album in a studio session on World Cafe.