The principal inspiration, however, was Jimi Hendrix. Smith quotes two Hendrix lines in the song, including the final lines “I think it’s sad, it’s much too bad that our friends can’t be with us today.”
Patti Smith is without a doubt one of the best-loved and most influential women in rock. But I know almost nothing about her or her work.
My one exposure to Smith came on R.E.M.’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi album, where she provides haunting background vocals on the first single, ‘E-Bow the Letter.’ When I first heard that song, I thought she was a man. Then I read that it was Patti Smith, Michael Stipe’s idol.
So that was the extent of my knowledge of her, aside from a vague understanding that her album Horses shows up on just about every “Best Ever” list, just as its cover photo (see picture to the right) shows up on lists of best album covers.