Certain Songs #1434: Patti Smith Group – “Dancing Barefoot”

Album: Wave
Year: 1979

Then the weirdest thing happened: in 1978 Patti Smith became a one-hit wonder with her remake / remodel of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because The Night.” That, of course, was the first time I ever heard her in any context, and, I gotta admit, I only thought it was OK. When it came on the radio, I didn’t turn it off, but I didn’t turn it up, either.

That said, “Because The Night” did generate enough buzz that its mothership Easter, and the follow-up, Wave both cracked the top 20, and I even remember her pretty decent cover of The Byrds “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” got pretty decent airplay on KKDJ.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1433: Patti Smith Group – “Pumping (My Heart)”

Album: Radio Ethiopia
Year: 1976

Horses, of course, was produced by Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, who found the exact balance between highlighting what Patti Smith was singing and the backing band coalescing around her. Radio Ethiopia was produced by Jack Douglas, who had just produced Aerosmith’s Rocks and was just about to produce Cheap Trick’s debut.

Now, of course, I love both Cheap Trick and Aerosmith — Rocks is one of my all-time favorite albums — Douglas wasn’t the right producer for the Patti Smith Group (as they were now called), and critics at the time slagged Radio Ethiopia for trying to hard to be commercial (which I don’t give a shit about), and how he overwhelmed Patti’s vocals in the mix (which I do).

(more…)

Certain Songs #1432: Patti Smith – “Land”

Album: Horses
Year: 1975

He saw horses, horses, horses, horses
Horses, horses, horses, horses

Before efore we get to the end of Horses, we have to navigate some disparate terrain. After the pure rock and roll blast of “Gloria,” Patti takes left turns into reggae, free jazz, more rock and gives fellow traveller Tom Verlaine room to blast notes skywards two years before he put out Marquee Moon.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1431: Patti Smith – “Gloria”

Album: Horses
Year: 1975

A story.

It’s the early 1980s, and you’ve been spending the past few years simultaneously buying as many contemporary punk, post-punk, and punk precursor albums as you can possibly afford. Or even that you can’t.

But you still haven’t landed on Patti Smith, maybe because your first experience has been her Bruce Springsteen cover/collab “Because The Night” which you liked well enough a few years prior, but just never blew you away.

(more…)

Certain Songs #1430: Patterson Hood – “Miss Me Gone”

Album: Killers and Stars
Year: 2004

March 2001 was the best of times, and it was the worst of times for Patterson Hood. His band, Drive-by Truckers, had just recorded Southern Rock Opera, the record that would put them on the map and begin to establish them as the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll band of the 21st century, but of course, that hadn’t happened yet.

What was happening was a divorce. So as therapy, Patterson worked up a bunch of new tunes as well as a devastatingly on-point Tom T. Hall cover, and recorded them in his kitchen. As you do.

(more…)