Artists don’t come more iconic than true original Patti Smith. Deserving of the “high priestess of punk” banner that often gets thrown her way, that label also does her a disservice, as she as something of a renaissance woman, with her talents variously pursued in music, poetry, writing, visual arts and activism.
But it is definitely for her music that she is best know. Starting with the fusion of punk and spoken word that was her debut album “Horses” (introducing herself to the world with the infamous line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”), Smith’s musical vision was always her own, and even when she achieved a level of mainstream success (with Bruce Springsteen’s Because The Night) it’s parent album (Easter) was hardly easy going.
After 1979’s Wave, Smith was largely quiet for the rest of the 1980s. But in 1988 she emerged with Dream of Life, an album that – whilst musically less ground-breaking – still waved the Patti Smith flag. It’s not a record whose reputation has grown over time. But this song – open track, lead single – definitely has. Used by Bruce Springsteen as a theme song for the 2004 Vote For Change campaign, it’s lyrical themes and anthemic chorus have given it a life of it’s own.
I was reminded of this when watching the recent Stewart Copeland fronted series on BBC, Adventures in Music, which included an excerpt of the song being performed by New Your community choir Choir! Choir! Choir, led on that instance by Patti Smith.
So here we have the songsheet. It’s a somewhat wordy song, but I managed to squeeze it all onto a single page. Nothing particularly tricky chord or timing wise, this is a song to play along to (it’s the same key as the original) and sing out loud. Enjoy.