Thanks to YouTube, we don’t need to go into tens of thousands of college tuition debt dollars to enjoy a host of high-profile commencement speeches from around the country each May. While I can’t say I’ve been particularly enlightened or moved by many of this year’s celebrity addresses to graduates, Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute invited the great Patti Smith to their graduation, awarding her with an honorary doctorate and a place on the podium for what turned out to be a gorgeously heartfelt talk.
This morning, The Awl posted videos of her speech, which includes a funny bit about dental hygiene (her “generation had a rough go dentally”), William Burroughs’ advice to a younger Smith (“build your name”), and other touching moments in which Smith is so honest that she briefly breaks down emotionally on two occasions. Though you can read a transcript here (via the Daily Swarm), I highly suggest you listen to her speak below. The Awl has video of two musical performances by Smith, as well.