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Patti Smith, My Generation

Patricia Lee "Patti" Smith (b. 1946) is an American singer-songwriter and published poet who helped form a foundation for the American version of Punk Rock with her ambitious 1975 album Horses. This distinction has to be made here, as on a tour to Britain in 1976, what might otherwise have been a fruitful collaboration was scuppered by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols' sneering on-stage reference to Horses, horses, fucking horses! It had been envisaged that the British and American versions of Punk be brought together with Patti fronting the Pistols in a few covers, but Rotten's clear disdain for what he saw as pretentious twaddle, combined with Smith's reciprocal criticism of the Pistols' lack of basic musical talent, killed this idea and entrenched the seperation between the two schools of Punk.

She has many popular songs, including but not limited to "Because the Night," "Dancing Barefoot," "Gloria," "Redondo Beach," and "Free Money." In 2010, she won the National Book Award for her latest book, a memoir entitled Just Kids. "Dancing Barefoot" was covered by U2 and appeared as the B-side to "When Love Comes to Town", gaining almost as much radio airplay as the A-side.


  • Horses (1975)
  • Radio Ethiopia (1976)
  • Easter (1978)
  • Wave (1979)
  • Dream Of Life (1988)
  • Gone Again (1996)
  • Peace And Noise (1997)
  • Gung Ho (2000)
  • Trampin' (2004)
  • Twelve (2007)

Tropes related to Patti Smith:

 Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine/Meltin' in a pot of thieves/Wild card up my sleeve/Slick heart of stone/My sins my own/They belong to ME. ME.

  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Piss Factory," "Pissing in a River," "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger"
  • Los Angeles: "Redondo Beach"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Redondo Beach" sounds upbeat, but the lyrics are likely about a girl who drowned herself after a quarrel with the narrator.
  • One-Hit Wonder: Like Devo, despite her long, acclaimed career, she's only had one real hit: "Because the Night". The fact that it was co-written with Bruce Springsteen might have something to do with it.
  • Rousing Speech: "People Have The Power", "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger"
  • She's Back: Between 1980 and 1995, she basically retired from rock music to raise her kids. Then she picked up where she left off.
  • Shout-Out: "Radio Ethiopia" supposedly refers to poet Arthur Rimbaud's dying wishes. "Piss Factory" mentions James Brown. "About a Boy"'s title references Nirvana's "About a Girl".
  • Signature Song: "Gloria", or possibly "Because the Night"
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Way over there on the idealistic side. To give you an idea, one of her more famous songs is called "People Have the Power".
  • The Lancer: Lenny Kaye, who's been her guitarist since her very first gig in 1971.
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