10 Of Patti Smith’s Remarkable Covers
Patti Smith live in 1979 - PretzelFarmer / Youtube
The punk poet laureate Patti Smith has been instrumental in the evolution of rock music. While her authenticity is widely celebrated, Smith has also shown her edge in adapting the works of other artists into her own style. Patti Smith’s extensive body of work, spearheaded by her poetry, wasn’t limited by her established sound at all – evidenced by some of her most impressive covers.
“Pale Blue Eyes” – The Velvet Underground
What better way to do a Velvet Underground song than have Patti Smith take one of your cuts and make it her own? “Pale Blue Eyes” was just what she was looking for, showing her admiration for Lou Reed who was also a creative deviant ahead of his time.
“Hey Joe” – Jimi Hendrix
How Patti Smith turned the mysterious “Hey Joe” of Jimi Hendrix into her own bluesy cut was something that only she could have done. She was also a fan of the late guitarist, especially enchanted by his songwriting ability.
When the legendary punk venue CBGB was about to be shut down for good, Smith didn’t waste time and gave the club a proper farewell – with no other than a medley of Ramones songs. The Ramones’ iconic rise from the punk venue was enough acclaim for her to pay her tribute there.
“White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane
Smith doesn’t shy away from her counterculture contemporaries, especially the acid rockers of Jefferson Airplane. She takes “White Rabbit” into a whole new direction, with her vocals a stark contrast from Grace Slick’s own. Smith pulls it off successfully, making it a respectable rendition of the Jefferson Airplane classic.
“Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones
Patti Smith sure felt at home when she performed at the CBGB’s farewell stage. The Rolling Stones were on the menu that night, with Smith serving up her own take on “Gimme Shelter” as a homage to one of her prime influences.
“My Generation” – The Who
Who would’ve thought that Patti Smith did The Who a good one when she covered their upbeat rocker, “My Generation”? To be fair, The Who’s message on the song was not something to be taken lightly, and all it needed was a little push from the deviant punk icon to shine a different light on it.
“Like A Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan
What better way to stay true to your craft than cover someone who trailblazer in the same field as you did – in this case, it was the poet Bob Dylan. She borrowed “Like A Rolling Stone” from her contemporary and friend, and surprised everyone with what she did with the track.
“Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
Smith bares her vulnerabilities with the R.E.M. song “Everybody Hurts” and takes it on a whole new level with the contrast and texture she displays on her version. The cut is poignantly melancholic but there’s something about the ache it gives that you just can’t give up on.
“Let’s Twist Again” – Chubby Checkers
Smith clearly wasn’t afraid to go against the grain and cover a pop song from the early ’60s by taking Chubby Checkers’ “Let’s Twist Again” into another fun-warranting but unique cover from the punk icon. Who said punks were uptight?
“Smells Like Teenage Spirit” – Nirvana
Another shocker from the punk poet was when she covered the grunge icon Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teenage Spirit”. Her brooding version of the song shows her respect to the band, and also reflected of how huge a loss Kurt Cobain was when he died.