Patti Smith – Gloria

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Bearing probably the most famous opening line of the entire American punk scene — “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” being every bit as corrosive a start as “I am an Antichrist/I am an anarchist” — Patti Smith’s complete re-imagining of the ’60s garage classic “Gloria” both sums up her entire persona and sets a standard that was so hard for the next generation of punks to live up to that most of them didn’t even try. More poetic than Jim Morrison, and far less prone to idiotic drunken rambling as well, Smith was the first mainstream rock and roll poet to deserve both sides of the appellation: the song’s first section, Smith’s own “In Excelsis Deo,” features some haunting imagery, but it’s also so rhythmically interesting that the shifts into and out of Van Morrison’s cocksure strut “Gloria” are utterly seamless. Further, Smith performs the oldie with more intensity, humor and openly sexual hunger than anyone since Morrison himself back in the days of Them, helped immensely by her stellar band, almost certainly the best group of musicians (Television was their only real competition) to unite under the rubric of punk.
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