Monday, July 19, 2010

Parentheses: Land: Horses/ Land Of A Thousand Dances/ La Mer (De)

Patti Smith: Land: Horses/ Land Of A Thousand Dances/ La Mer (De)


Patti Smith was a writer before she was a musician, having published two books of poetry and having written for a couple of music critic magazines before ever standing on the stage at CBGB. She has said that she was inspired equally by Rimbaud and Ginsberg as she was by The Rolling Stones and Dylan. I think these odd cross currents of influence are no where more clear than on Land: Horses, the sprawling, nervous, beat-punk climax of her debut album, Horses. The story that the song tells is disturbing, to say the very least, and the music further sets the listener on edge. The unnatural juxtaposition of Smith's story of a teenage physical assault with the lyrics to Chris Kenner's Land of 1,000 Dances only adds to the disconcerting feeling.

After numerous internet searches I still can't say with any authority what the parenthetical "(De)" at the end of the title refers to. It might be a reference to Debussy, who wrote an orchestral composition called La Mer, but that's just one person's idea.

But a great song is a great song and a parenthesis is a parenthesis.

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