Song of the Day #5,431: ‘Free Money’ – Patti Smith

Continuing my look at the albums of 1975…

Sometimes I have to acknowledge that a beloved artist just isn’t for me. Such is the case with Patti Smith, whose celebrated debut album Horse was released in 1975.

Smith is praised as the first “art punk” artist, a trailblazer who fused her poetic lyrics with the aggressive, three-chord structure of punk rock. I get that, but I derive no enjoyment from listening to that particular trail get blazed.

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Song of the Day #5,231: ‘Kimberly’ – Patti Smith

‘Kimberly’ is a song from Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses. It is about a time Smith held her baby sister, Kimberly, in her arms during a lightning storm at her family’s New Jersey home.

The song has lots of great detail, unsurprising given Smith’s talents as both a poet and memoirist, and a melody that The Smiths later interpolated for their song ‘The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.’

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Song of the Day #4,943: ‘Elegie’ – Patti Smith

‘Elegie’ is the final track on Patti Smith’s celebrated art-punk classic Horses. It was written as a tribute to rock stars who died before their time, including Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

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.”

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Lessons from a theme week

teacherSo my goal this week was to single out some artists I’ve heard about but never really heard. I went with two bona fide legends (Tom Waits and Patti Smith), two lesser-known but well-regarded 70s bands (Buzzoccks and Faces) and one contemporary artist who enjoys great critical acclaim (Bjork).

Overall, my takeaway is that I wasn’t missing much. I’m most intrigued by Tom Waits, though his voice remains a stumbling block, and I like the idea of Patti Smith even if her song didn’t completely sell me. Faces seems like a generic 70s rock band. Buzzcocks wrote a great song but their style isn’t up my alley. And Bjork is intriguing but too much of an art-school show-off to really grab me.

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Song of the Day #147: ‘Gloria’ – Patti Smith

pattiPatti 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.

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