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Who Are Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith? All About The Pair and Their Connection to Taylor Swift

Who are these artists? What is the Chelsea Hotel? And how did Taylor become a part of it all?

Chances are that if you listened to the new Taylor Swift album, The Tortured Poets Department, you’ve heard the lines, “And you’re not Dylan Thomas, I’m not Patti Smith. This ain’t the Chelsea Hotel; we’re two idiots.” But who are Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith really? What do they have to do with the Chelsea Hotel, and why did Taylor Swift choose to feature them? All of that and more, below.

Who is Patti Smith?

Patti Smith (1975/2024)
Patti Smith (1975/2024) Getty

Patti Smith was born on December 20, 1946, and is a well-known singer, songwriter, poet, painter and author.

She mainly sings punk-rock, with her biggest hit being the 1978 song “Because the Night,” which she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen.

Smith has also gone on to write many books and even won a National Book Award for her 2010 memoir Just Kids, which delves deeply into the New York City Music scene in the 1960’s and 70s, as well as her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Smith is currently 77 years old and has two children with her ex-husband, Fred Smith.

Who is Dylan Thomas?

Dylan Thomas (1946)
Dylan Thomas (1946) Getty

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet born on October 27, 1914 in Uplands, United Kingdom. His poetry was praised for its vivid imagery and moving sentence structure.

In 1938, he went on to win the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, awarded by Poetry magazine. Because of this, Thomas gained international attention and began to write scripts for radio and plays. He also wrote a number of short stories and autobiographical sketches.

Thomas died on November 9, 1953, at age 39, from pneumonia, which caused his brain to swell and slowly cut off his oxygen supply.

After his death, Thomas was given a tribute plaque in Westminster Abbey. He was also the inspiration for Swansea University’s “The Dylan Thomas Prize,” a $25,000 cash award. It debuted in 2006, is one of the worlds largest literary prizes for young writers under the age of 39 and is awarded annually.

Did Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith know each other?

Both artists in question
Left: Patti Smith (1975). Right: Dylan Thomas (1950) Getty

No, the two did not know each other. However, Smith once did a reading at Thomas’ seaside cottage in Welch back in 2012.

They were also both residents of the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York City, New York.

What is the Chelsea Hotel?

The Chelsea Hotel
The Chelsea HotelGetty

The Chelsea Hotel was built between 1883 and 1885 and is best known for housing many famous artists over the years, including Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Arthur C. Clarke, Andy Warhol, Leonard Cohen and more.

Both Smith and Thomas were also residents there at one point or another. Smith even has a whole section in her biography dedicated to the hotel, writing, “I loved this place, its shabby elegance, and the history it held so possessively … So many had written, conversed, and convulsed in these Victorian dollhouse rooms. So many skirts had swished these worn marble stairs. So many transient souls had espoused, made a mark and succumbed here.”

The Chelsea Hotel is still open to the public today and has about 20 residents living in it full-time.

What is Dylan Thomas Smith and Patti Smith’s connection to Taylor Swift?

From to left to right: Patti Smith (1975), Taylor Swift (2024), Dylan Thomas (1946)
From to left to right: Patti Smith (1975), Taylor Swift (2024), Dylan Thomas (1946) Getty

Aside from the shoutout in the song “The Tortured Poets Department,” there is no other connection between Swift, Thomas, and Smith.

However, upon hearing the song, Smith took to Instagram and wrote, “This is saying I was moved to be mentioned in the company of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.” She captioned the post, breaking up the lines. “Thank you, Taylor.” She also posed with Thomas’ book Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.

Fans of Taylor Swift, though, believe this song is in reference to Swift’s short relationship with singer Matty Healy, who is rumored to carry a typewriter around and believes himself to be a poet.

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