“In ‘Horses’ I was investigating the death of Hendrix.”Patti Smith (1112)


“There’s a section in it [The Book of Dreams, the childhood memoir of Peter Reich, son of radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich – Ed] where Peter describes a birthday party not long after his father died. He wandered outside and became convinced his father was coming down to get him and take him off in a spaceship. [But what he thought was a squadron of UFOs revealed itself to be a flock of blackbirds – Ed]. This story haunted me, and when we recorded ‘Birdland’, which was totally improvised, that’s where the track went to. [Starting with the young Reich hallucinating his father at the controls of the flying saucer, there’s a motif running through the song: ‘You are not human’ turns to ‘I am not human’ and then ‘we are not human’ – Ed]. That’s really talking about myself. From very early on in my childhood – four, five years old – I felt alien to the human race. I felt very comfortable with thinking I was from another planet, because I felt disconnected – I was very tall and skinny, and I didn’t look like anybody else, I didn’t even look like any member of my family.”Patti Smith (1119)

Free Money

“My parents had three kids right after the Second World War, and we were all sort of sickly. Then I had a fourth sibling, with very serious asthma. The medical bills… So my parents always struggled. It’s really a song for my mom. She always dreamed about winning the lottery. But she never bought a lottery ticket! She would just imagine if she won, make lists of things she would do with the money – a house by the sea for us kids, then all kinds of charitable things.”Patti Smith (1119)


“Housing developments were a new thing, postwar, they’d build them for poor people in areas that nobody wanted. Ours was literally on a swamp. We lived across the street from an old abandoned barn that got hit by lightning shortly after Kimberly [the fourth sibling – Ed] was born. I went outside and I was holding her, watching this barn in flames. Hundreds of bats lived in it, and you could hear them screeching, and see bats and owls and buzzards flying out.”Patti Smith (1119)


“It’s a requiem for Hendrix.”Patti Smith (1119)