Dec. 13, 1975: Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ Released; World Never Same Again

Dec. 13, 1975: Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ Released; World Never Same Again
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On December 13, 1975, Patti Smith’s album ‘Horses’ was released. Simply put, music was never the same again.

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Iconic album, iconic album cover.

Certainly much has been said about the impact of Patti Smith’s debut album.  Her’s how Rolling Stone described it in naming it No. 44 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time:

From its first defiant line, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine,” the opening shot in a bold reinvention of Van Morrison‘s Sixties garage-rock classic “Gloria,” Patti Smith‘s debut album was a declaration of committed mutiny, a statement of faith in the transfigurative powers of rock & roll. Horses made her the queen of punk before it even really existed, but Smith cared more for the poetry in rock. She sought the visions and passions that connected Keith Richards and Rimbaud – and found them, with the intuitive assistance of a killing band (pianist Richard Sohl, guitarist Lenny Kaye, bassist Ivan Kral and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty).

 Artists from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Michael Stipe, the Smiths to Courtney Love have all made clear the influence and impact this album had upon them.
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Smith and Mapplethorpe.

Smith’s mixture of punk rock and beat poetry most definitely reflected the downtown influences around her.  She lived and performed downtown (still does), and recorded the album at Electric Lady Studios on West 8th Street.  Bob Dylan, a close friend since he first saw Smith perform in the early 1970’s, was a huge influence on her vocal style.  The iconic album cover was shot in a Greenwich Village penthouse using only natural light by her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe, who lived and worked in a studio at 24 Bond Street in NoHo.
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Patti Smith and Bob Dylan (and Keith Richards).

I’ll personally never forget the first time I heard the opening opening chords and vocals on the album of Smith’s “In Excelsis Deo”.  My understanding of music and its possibilities were changed forever.
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Andrew Berman

Andrew Berman has been the Executive Director of Village Preservation since 2002.

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  1. […] West 8th Street (as were The Clash’s Combat Rock, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, and Patti Smith’s Horses, among many […]

  2. […] On Saturday, December 10, 2016, the extraordinary Patti Smith accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature on behalf of Bob Dylan in Stockholm, Sweden. In a transcendent performance, Smith was overwhelmed with emotion when she stopped mid-performance only to begin again and drive home her powerful rendition of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” to a stunned audience. Today we celebrate the artistry of Smith and the profound impact she has had on modern music, as 41 years ago this week, the groundbreaking album Horses was released. […]

  3. […] Inspired by fellow downtowners the New York Dolls, and following close on the heels of the release of Patti Smith’s ‘Horses,’ the Ramones broke down musical barriers forever and reoriented popular music back towards its […]

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