Patti Smith: So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star (1979)

 |   |  <1 min read

Patti Smith: So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star (1979)

Although the Byrds' 1967 original of this much covered rock classic has a significant sarcasm to it, the lyrical bite was ameliorated by the Byrds' close harmony and airy delivery, and the patched-in screams which added a sense of excitement.

By this time the Byrds had tuned in and turned on, and they were a little older than the stars coming up through the pages of Seventeen magazine so had some cynicism about pop and rock'n'roll stardom.

Patti Smith's version was on her album Wave -- and is now included on her Outside Society 18 song compilation, her first such collection of hits and favourites -- and has a more obviously bitter sneer.

In the liner notes she says it was recorded at Woodstock during a snow storm.

"The improvisation accesses the empowerment rock and roll affords the artists as well as the toll it can exact. It relates specifically to the violent attack by an emotionally torn Sid Vicious on my brother Todd with a broken bottle in a New York nightclub.

"Both of them are now deceased, but they are embedded, like strange brothers, within our performance."

For more on-offs or songs with an interesting back-story see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

George Formby: When I'm Cleaning Windows (1936)

George Formby: When I'm Cleaning Windows (1936)

In his later years George Harrison developed an affection for the ukulele, and one of its greatest practitioners, English music hall comedian, singer and actor George Formby. Right at the end... > Read more

Brix E. Smith and Nigel Kennedy: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1991)

Brix E. Smith and Nigel Kennedy: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1991)

Tribute albums can be dodgy: some are fun, and the more obscure the artists the better they get. But you are wise to avoid the Joy Division tribute A Means to an End which features those household... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Shani.O

EPs by Shani.O

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Shani.O. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

MAD ABOUT THE BEATLES (2016): John, Paul, George, Ringo and Alfred

MAD ABOUT THE BEATLES (2016): John, Paul, George, Ringo and Alfred

Of course Mad magazine -- which had been skewering popular culture since its inception in the early Fifties -- would take an interest in the Beatles. Their hairstyles and distinctive appearance... > Read more