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David Remnick ‘Survived’ Rocking Out With Patti Smith

The New Yorker Festival 2015 - Patti Smith Talks With David Remnick
David Remnick has a pretty sweet backup gig. Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images

The New Yorker’s David Remnick is a man of many talents — writer, editor, and casual guitar-strummer. On Saturday, during his New Yorker Festival chat with Patti Smith, Remnick actually broke out his ax and grooved with the Horses legend. New York has long been on the David Remnick guitar-hero beat, so when Vulture ran into Remnick at The New Yorker’s party at the Top of the Standard celebrating the festival, we couldn’t help but ask what it was like to jam with Ms. Smith. “Let’s put it this way: I survived with Patti Smith. Or she survived me!” he said, before revealing how the duet came about. “We were texting together. Just the usual pre-interview, what do you want to talk about, blah, blah, blah, and then I was joking around about this, and then the next thing you know …”

The duo played “Because the Night,” a 1978 hit off Easter that Smith wrote with Bruce Springsteen. “I had a couple of others ready in case she wanted to do it, and that’s the one she chose,” Remnick said of the set list. “It was really fun.” So, with a successful festival concert under their belt, does this mean Remnick will be joining Smith on her next tour? The editor laughed and noted, “I think she can do without me. I think Lenny Kaye is a lot better. She’s been playing with Lenny since 1971.”

David Remnick on Rocking Out With Patti Smith