By the time I heard Patti Smith’s version of “My Generation” I had heard the groundbreaking original thousands of times. I was skeptical at first, but having listened to all of Horses first it seemed to make sense. I was surprised.
I’ve never been a big fan of covers, but sometimes they are so exceptional, so fascinatingly different, they sound like an original song by the artist covering it. I love No Doubt’s “It’s My Life” and Marilyn Manson’s “Tainted Love,” and of course when Oasis covered The Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” I just about lost my shit! Foo Fighters’ version of “Darling Nikki” is a superb bit of musicality, and Dave Grohl’s scream is absolutely orgasm-inducing. It’s a shame that most people these days don’t even know Louis Prima, but Brian Setzer Orchestra’s recording of “Jump Jive An’ Wail” guarantees that the song will live forever.
Patti is a poet, and she makes this already anthemic song more relevant to the kids listening to it in the 70s. When I was first listening to her scream “I don’t need their fuckin’ shit/Hope I die because of it,” I was new to the study of punk history. I knew that learning about her was essential, but what I also discovered was how essential The Who were to the punk sound and attitude. There are more than a few bands of the previous generation that were necessary for the formation of punk, and this is probably the song that taught me that.
We created it
Let’s take it over