Patti Smith wrote a poem called Oath which later turned into her song called “Gloria”. It was released on her first album, Horses, in 1975. Gloria was the opening track on the album. It paved the way for Patti’s success as the lyrics started off as “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” Many interpreted the lyrics as Patti casting religion aside. However, since she was raised by a religious mother “Gloria” was truly a rebellion against her strict Jehovah Witness mother and a rally cry for freedom. The freedom to choose how you wanted to live your life.
“Gloria” was a controversial song for its day. She sings about a woman named Gloria and it sounds as though the song is a lesbian anthem. However, it is not because Patti married a man and she did not intend it on being a lesbian anthem. Patti chose to keep the gender that was used by Morrison with “humping on a parking meter, leaning on a parking meter.” Patti is quoted as saying “my work does not reflect my sexual preferences, it reflects the fact that I feel total freedom as an artist.” “I always enjoyed doing transgender songs.” ” That’s something I learned from Joan Baez.”
I remember waiting on a cold winter’s day with my friend at the time to buy tickets to go see Patti Smith. I had very close seats and loved every minute of the concert. She was a poet and an artist and no one could compete with her originality.
She performed “Gloria” on Saturday Night Live’s first season. Gilda Radner used to imitate Patti Smith in a hysterical parody on Saturday Night Live doing Candy Slice. Patti also sang at CBGB’s a place in the Bowery that I used to go when I was much younger. It was Patti who was the last to sing at CBGB’s before it closed it doors.
I have the song Gloria from You Tube below: