Listen: People Have The Power / Patti Smith PattiPeople.mp3
There was a time, around RADIO ETHIOPIA, that I stalked The Patti Smith Group. You might say the sum was greater than the parts, but not in any way to diminish Patti’s centricity. They were a perfect band. Just before heading to the UK for a ’77 tour, they came upstate to play two shows in a cathedral on the campus of Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, supposedly to raise money to get to England. We taped both shows. They were mesmerizing. One of the greatest musical exeriences of my life.
God bless Bob Seger. Shortly after returning from said tour, he gave she and her band a chance to open several of his shows, an opportunity to reach people that radio programmers blackballed her from. Unfortunately, Patti fell off the stage during a Florida performance, taking in no doubt her wild abandon, broke her neck, and the intense live energy of the band was never the same. Arista and Clive Davis turned to Bruce Springsteen and Todd Rundgren to help broaden her reach, admirably. Some of those ideas worked, some didn’t. But it is the thought that counts.
When you’re the real deal, you go through ups and downs, yet rise above. That’s the Patti Smith saga. In ’88, she bounced back with ‘People Have The Power’, possibly her strongest song yet. It was edited on 7″ for airplay, but I’ve chosen to post the full length version. It’s a song you just wish would never end.