Patti Smith in the Chelsea Hotel from You Should’ve Heard Just What I Seen (by James Hamilton)   © James Hamilton, 1978. 

James Hamilton and Patti Smith worked together at Crawdaddy! Magazine. Patti as music journalist and James as photographer.     


from Thurston Moore:

The hours, days, weeks, months I spent tiptoeing through five decades of James’s contact sheets I realized the soul of the artist gleans genuine respect and distinct recognition from a photographer who shares their emotions. The messengers of music, the “angels”—as Sun Ra would suggest—play for a timeless existence. To capture them with photography is to defy their elusive state, to steal them to common ground, as is the journalist’s duty. But like so few, James Hamilton solemnly suggests camaraderie, friendship, and shared artistry. His photo archive, not only of music genius, but of street life, politics, filmmakers, poets, authors, and artists is an astounding history of late-20th century New York City. A time when the downtown world below 14th Street experienced its ultimate existence as a true village of creative pursuit. One can still feel this last vestige of bohemia by taking a magic turn on any given street at any given time, but it is fleeting. And its vintage glamour has a wizened smile in the shadowy recess of a newly minted lifestyle.

We depend on history to recount what is vanished, missed, dreamed of, and mythologized. In James’s archive I encounter a universe of sweetness, of salaciousness, and a spellbinding grace and natural wonderment that keeps me coming back to the city that defined romance for me and so many others. The romantic eye as love, as music.


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