Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Throwback Track of the Day: Patti Smith - Rock 'N' Roll Nigger

"It is time for somebody to lead all of America's niggers - all the people who feel left out of the political process"
-Ron Dellums

Rock 'N' Roll Nigger came out 35 years ago, and to this day it directly confronts the massive can of worms attached to the boogeyman of words and doesn't just open it, but blasts the whole thing straight to hell by using it as an empowering idea for people in general.  Often affectionately referred to as "the Godmother of Punk", Patti Smith uses this song as a defiant punch to the face of authoritarian society, while everyone in on the joke revels in the offense taken.  

At it's core it is a classic rallying cry of rebellion, but to the uninitiated it uses controversy and shock to achieve point-blank confrontation of modern society.  This isn't shock for the sake of being shocking though; Patti Smith goes to the roots of the word "nigger", placing it in an unfamiliar (yet still genuine) context that unites all victims of society, from any background.   This is a song about what it means to proudly exist outside of mainstream society, and make absolutely no apologies for it.  It is about breaking down the divisions and barriers between all the sub-groups of societal rejects, uniting all of them and rising up as the ones rejecting society, rather than the ones being rejected.  Thus, Patti Smith proudly declares herself a nigger, along with Jimi Hendrix, Jesus Christ, Jackson Pollock, "and grandma too".  At one point, in possibly the most satisfying moment in all of punk music, she unleashes a line consisting of "NIGGER" shouted seven consecutive times.  Rock 'N' Roll Nigger is one of the strongest statements ever made in rock music, and continues to piss off and offend the exact people that it was intended to.

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