Gina Mei
October 15, 2015 12:00 pm

This month, the world will receive not one, but two new Patti Smith books: M Train, the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Just Kids; and Collected Lyrics 1970-2015, a round-up of Smith’s work to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Horses. Both are guaranteed to bring the feels — but it turns out they aren’t the only Smith-related happenings that have us getting misty-eyed lately.

Over the weekend, Patti Smith visited Chicago’s Dominican University while promoting M Train, and what happened next has us weeping at our desks. During the reading, a fan interrupted Smith to give her a bag of clothes and accessories that were stolen from her nearly 40 years ago — prompting Smith (and the rest of the audience) to burst into tears.

As the story goes, over $40,000 worth of musical equipment and memorabilia were taken from Smith during a Chicago tour stop in 1979, when their rental truck was stolen from a motel parking lot. The stolen items were never seen again, and the truck never found. The fan, 56-year-old Noreen Bender, reportedly received the goods from a friend of a former roommate; and had been trying to find the right moment to get them back to Smith ever since.

“I knew I had to get it back to her. It’s not for a stranger,” Bender told The Chicago Tribune. “The feeling of making your hero happy, it was a moment. It was the highlight of my life.”

The items have yet to be officially authenticated, but based on Smith’s reaction, it’s probably safe to say they’re the real deal. Amongst the items returned to Smith included her oft-worn Keith Richards t-shirt, the blouse she wore on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1978, and a bandana which belonged to her late brother (and tour manager), Todd Smith.

“The rest of the program, after she piled everything on the podium, she couldn’t stop touching them, eventually slowly slipping the bandana into her pocket . . and proceeded to do a ripping version of Because the Night with her son on acoustic guitar,” one of the fans in attendance wrote.

If that isn’t proof that some items hold magic — because of our memories, because of the life we give them — then we don’t know what does.

(Images via Rolling Stone, Shutterstock.)

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