Patti Smith – Outside Society, Track 1. “Gloria” – Horses

Cover of "Horses (Aniv) (Dlx) (Dig)"
Cover of Horses (Aniv) (Dlx) (Dig)

Patti Smith OUTSIDE SOCIETY was released today, August 23, 2011 on Audio CD, Vinyl (2 LPs) and digital bits (Amazon MP3, iTunes AAC, Spotify) . I am savoring with relish Patti Smith‘s landmark collection of 18 personally supervised songs. This stellar chronological collection represents Patti Smith’s entire body of recorded work (released to date) on the Arista and Columbia labels. Each song has been remastered by the team of award-winning engineer Greg Calbi and Patti Smith band member Tony Shanahan.

The collection begins with Track 1, the definitive, energy building,  “Gloria” from Horses recorded in 1975.

Patti Smith speaks the opening line over the lilting stride of Richard Sohl‘s piano chord progression.

Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.

That ode has cycled in my head and soul for 36 years. I have gone back and forth in my consciousness trying to interpret what Patti Smith meant by her use of those specific words. Was she saying that since she was born in 1946 A.D. her sins are not accountable due to Jesus’s earlier passing? Or did she mean that Jesus perished for the world’s sins at that time in history?

Just lately I learned more specifically what Patti Smith meant when she recorded the opening line to “Gloria”. I heard her speak from page 247 of her audio book, Just Kids

Lenny showed me how to play an E and as I struck the note, I spoke the line: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” I had written the line some years before as a declaration of existence, as a vow to take responsibility for my own actions. Christ was a man worthy to rebel against, for He was rebellion itself.*

In the CD liner notes to OUTSIDE SOCIETY Patti reflects…

With respect for Jesus Christ as a great teacher and revolutionary, the opening of “Gloria” was meant to serve as a declaration of existence.

Finally I had the answer from the poetess herself and my heart was put at ease.

I played Horses often on my Sunday radio show on WVOF-FM 88.5. I was given the station copy of Horses by the program director as a holiday present 🙂

I recall vividly the Patti Smith Group appearance on Saturday Night Live, April 17, 1976 where they performed “Gloria” that evening.

*Just Kids. Copyright 2010 by Patti Smith. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y.

58 Lambert Drive, Milford, CT