I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Sing Along if You Recognize the Song: Patti Smith Covers

by Lindsay Long
Jan. 22, 2016

Over the course of Patti Smith’s prolific career she has used the stage not only as a platform for creative self-expression but also to advocate and pay homage to the fellow artists and musicians who have inspired her along the way. Since forming her own band in the early seventies, the poetess has performed countless concerts around the globe. It is safe to assume that no two shows have ever been the same. Fusing poetry, spoken word, and driving rhythms into a totally unique and unprecedented experience has been Patti’s gig since the beginning.

Born to be onstage, she exudes a nonchalant and off the cuff style that commands the attention of the crowd. Each surprising set seems like an impromptu performance. Take for instance her show at the Koncerthuset in Stockholm 1976 that was featured on Network Awesome a few months ago. Alongside re-invented versions of her own tunes, Patti and the band bust out a handful of classics, doing them all the justice deserved. To this day, she incorporates covers at her shows. Recently singing Velvet Underground’s Heroin and Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction during a set at Webster Hall are just two more examples of total crowd pleasers. She also commemorated the loss of fellow artist and innovative musician Lou Reed by covering his tune Perfect Day. Aside from the obvious classics, she even can be caught belting out today’s hits from the likes of such pop stars as Rihanna.

Patti uses the podium not only to pay tribute but also to shed light on current affairs or topics she finds important. Being onstage in front of tens, hundreds, thousands of people really is an opportunity to inculcate any important issues, ideas, thoughts, or feelings to the crowd. Sometimes it’s tricky when a band stands before you harping on cultural and political affairs when really you just want them all to STFU and get on with the songs, Patti may stress the importance of a situation without force-feeding it to you. When it comes to music, I don’t want the artist’s body of work to be overshadowed by their opinions on other unrelated subject matters. Came to see a rock show not a sermon. Patti Smith makes it apparent she is up to speed on global issues and uses the stage to raise awareness without coming from a condescending point of view. And although re-makes rarely surpass the original, Patti and co. are such talented performers their own unique renditions often times rival the prototype. An inspiration for females and artists everywhere, it is honorable of her to remember those who came before, those who currently reign, and those who are yet to come.

Currently holdin’ it down in the dirty south city of Atlanta, Network Awesome contributor Lindsay can be found frequenting house parties, punk rock shows, seedy thrift stores, or glued to her computer screen unearthing the endless gems today's internet offers. A self-proclaimed fan of all things vintage, including the nudie mags of yesteryear, she possesses an insatiable appetite for anything visually mind-blowing or just totally tasteless. Notorious B.I.G. sums her up best with a line from ‘Gimme the Loot': ”Dangerous. Crazier than a bag of f*@#$%g angel dust.”