#1050: 1975, Patti Smith, Land

by Jackie_South on December 13, 2015

It’s been almost a fortnight since our last Song to Learn and Sing, so I’m jumping the queue of our usual order of posting songs to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of my favourite album of all time: on 13 December 1975, Patti Smith released Horses.

Land, or to use its full title Land: Horses/ Land of a Thousand Dances/ La Mer (De) is the album’s tour de force: a monster of almost 9 and a half minutes and three movements where not a single second is wasted. It is Patti at her most poetic: a tale where Johnny’s lost innocence through rape reflects the same journey of a betrayed generation, but through that journey gains a new outlook of life before ultimately ending in self-destruction. Anger, rebellion, acceptance, youth violence, Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat, Wilson Pickett, Maplethorpe, Hendrix, Morrison and his Texas Radio and the Big Beat, hallucinogens, surrealism, fifties and sixties dance crazes, seep through it all in a heady mix.

It is a truly remarkable track on a truly remarkable album: often cited as the first punk album yet much of it hardly seems punk at all. Much of what it has influenced goes far beyond punk too: The Smiths, REM, PJ Harvey (although she’s at times denied it). Forty years of music would have been lacking something very important without Horses.

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