Now if any old artist from a previous generation suddenly pops up with a cover version of a Teen Anthem from a band young enough to be their grand children the obvious reaction would be one of ridicule. Look at the deluded old fart grasping to be down with the kids. Sad. Desperate. Embarrassing.
When that artist is Patti Smith you can’t help but nod and think ‘Yep, that’s kind of perfect’. It’s all worked over on bodhrán drums and folky fiddles. She’s seen the song for what it is, a peoples song of it’s time and she’s got a band of kaftan cheesecloth wearing gypsies working on that groove around a campfire (I’m assuming, I haven’t seen the band)
So, at first you are intrigued by the vague familiarity of the plod and churn of the groove, there’s a lightbulb moment when you hear the first line and by the time she’s got to ‘With the light’s out’ I bet you’re singing along.
She’s got the front to add a spoken word poem at the three and half minute mark because she’s Patti Smith so she can do what she likes. It’s got more to say than the ‘Gargle Wargle Nargle Zous’ of the original (or was that Weird Al?) and actually gives the whole thing more community feeling than the isolation of the Mullato’s and Albino’s who’ve been here since Nevermind.
This is another track taken from a full LP of covers. Patti’s disc is called Twelve, because there’s twelve tracks on it. Because she’s Patti Smith she can do things like that.
If you like this you should also check out her take on Street Fighting Man and The Boy In The Bubble by Paul Simon.
She’s a legend for a reason.