Good morning and happy wednesday hoddlers. believe it or not we are in the middle of the week! what will you do with the two remaining days in march?
A couple of weeks ago I visited my favourite record store in Connecticut. Record bins overflow with used vinyl, my favourite thing to look for. And, among other things, one record I picked up was a Patti Smith bootleg from a 1978 performance in Paris, France.
Tonight (well, this morning), I open it for the first time and type as I listen to it. This should be fun.
There is no cover jacket. It’s housed in an off-white sheet. I remove the disc from the sleeve hoping for some clue as to the songs. There are no words except for “Side One” and “Side Two”, and a lot of dust. Interesting. I take my chances and place it on the turntable.
The record begins mid-concert. The crowd is already fully enthralled, and the atmosphere feels electric. It takes me a while to understand what Smith is singing. It’s Ask The Angels. That performance, along with the next - 25th Floor - are wild.
I didn’t grow up a big Patti Smith fan, so I don’t have any idea what to expect from this. But through the cracks of the vinyl I hear a band that is tearing up the Parisian stage making its way onto the third song ... I actually don’t know what it is. Smith and her band go straight to the songs, no introductions. No small talk. Just music.
So I can’t figure out the third song, but we’re on Till Victory (from her album Easter) now. It’s a mix of punk-rock Smith and poet-lyricist Smith:
Rend the veil and we shall sail
The nail, the grail: that’s all behind thee
In deed, in creed, the curve of our speed
And we believe that we will raise the sky
We got to fly over the land, over the sea
On it goes.
I never knew this kind of Patti Smith, the turn-it-up-to-eleven Smith in this performance. I remember her most from the White Horse Tavern days (not that I was there). Where she began reciting poetry and descended into song-like trance, kind of like with Set Me Free.
I flip to Side Two. The crowd is begging for more. The backing band teases them. Oh, there it is. That piano intro.
It’s unmistakable. It’s probably her best song. It’s Because The Night. And it’s kind of everything you’d expect it to be live. She sounds a touch out of breath in the second lines of the chorus, but it’s still great.
Well, I was wrong, when she unleashes her screechy fury in the second bridge. Whoa.
Because the Night might be her most recognisable song, but it’s not her best. That would be Gloria. And the song is building in momentum.
It opens: Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.
It’s a cover, but not really a cover. Smith weaves her own poetry, filled with irony, through it until the song reaches that iconic chorus. Wow, and when it gets to that chorus, the stage erupts. She spells it so fast, too, as if giving no reverence to the name. Which is the point, isn’t it?
Now we move back onto Ask the Angels which appears to have started recording soon as the song begins. The quality is fair/okay. It definitely sounds like a bootleg, which is what I wanted when I bought this record. That’s when the cracks pick up a little more with Free Money, but it’s all good. It’s punk.
Ah, it looks like this concert is ending. Patti is playing on the piano, sounding very sad.
It certainly sounds like a lullaby. This also apparently came at a time when Keith Richards when in some trouble, as Smith introduces the next song wishing the best and hoping he is soon pardoned by the country (a quick search tells me he plead guilty to possession of heroin).
She sings a short Keith Richards song, Keith Richard’s Blues, before closing out with I Was Working Real Hard, which is a heck of a way to end a concert after 45 minutes of high-energy music. To finish on a little lullaby. But this lets us to fully soak in Smith’s lyrics, and perhaps her psychology.
I was workin’ real hard to show the world what I could do
Oh I guess that I’d never dreamed
I’d have to, I’d have to, I’d have to sacrifice you
Fitzie’s track of the day: Gloria, by Patti Smith
And now for your links:
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