Patti Smith (v. Van Morrison)

March 8, 2009





Patti Smith (v. Van Morrison) 

by Rachel Shine


open your thighs to fate and(if you can

withholding nothing)World,conceive a man 

  It starts with quiet sunbeam piano.  Humming, warm, bright, a little lazy.  Then she comes in low, all heat an’ honey:  Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.  Meltin’ in a pot of thieves.  Wild card up my sleeve.  Thick.  Heart of stone.  My sins my own, they belong to me.  Me.   

  Or it starts with a chuggin’ guitar, back porch and mellow.  A man preambles a bit and then another walks in.  He says:  Like to tell ya about my baby.  You know she comes around.  She’s about five feet four from her head to the ground. 

  Throaty, squawking she admits:  I’m moving in this here atmosphere, well, anything’s allowed.  And I go to this here party.  And I just get bored until I look out the window, see this sweet young thing.  Humpin’ on the parking meter, leanin’ on the parking meter, oh, she looks so good.  Oh, she looks so fine.  And I got this crazy feeling, that I’m gonna ah-ah make her mine.  Ooh, I’ll put my spell on her. 

  While he:  You know she comes around here at just about midnight.  She make ya feel so good, Lord.  She make ya feel alright.  And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A.  He’s got her. 

  But she’s still eyeing, waiting:  Here she comes, walking down the street.  Here she comes, comin’ through my door.  Here she comes, crawlin’ up my stair.  Here she comes, waltzin’ through the hall in a pretty red dress and oh, she looks so good.  Oh, she looks so fine.  And I got this crazy feeling that I’m gonna ah-ah make her mine.

  And then I hear this knockin’ on my door, hear this knockin’ on my door, and I look up into the big tower clock and say, “Oh my God here’s midnight!” And my baby is walkin’ through the door, leanin’ on my couch.  She whispers to me and I take the big plunge and oh, she was so good, and oh, she was so fine, and I’m gonna tell the world that I just ah-ah made her mine.  Our Artist conquered. 

  But it’s not domination, as it is in Morrison’s version.   She asks: darling, tell me your name, engaging her, respecting her individuality.  When she told me her name and she whispered to me, she told me her name, and her name is . . . G – L – O – R – I – A, the song climaxes.  The first time- after giving her the power of seduction in her walk, her red dress and her whispers.  And it’s Gloria that gives her own name, whereas in Morrison’s, he gave her the physical description only of five feet four, the same as any number of shrubbery or bookcase and he tells us her name.  He sings about her as an object to be shared.   

  But Smith pushes it.  I was at the stadium.  There were twenty thousand girls calling their name out to me- Marie, Ruth, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t hear them, I didn’t see.  I let my eyes rise to the big tower clock and I heard those bells chiming in my heart as she waits for midnight, and thus the return of her Gloria.  Smith holds Gloria in high regard, worshiping the anticipation of her arrival with the ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong of the tower clock.  Then this time she says to Gloria, in acknowledgement and gratitude, oh, you were so good.  Oh, you were so fine.  And rejoices at the times she will again make her mine make her mine make her mine make her mine.  Although it is a conquer, like any sexual act, it is one that must be renewed each time because Smith’s song is a celebration of pursuit. 



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