HORSES MAY NOW be one of the most influential rock’n’roll albums ever made, but at the time Patti Smith expected it to be her lone musical statement.
Speaking exclusively in the new issue of MOJO (October 15/ #263) – on sale in the UK from Tuesday, August 25 – the singer says she planned the record which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year as a one-off bridging point to connect the music of the 1960s with the changing culture of her day and beyond.
“I never thought I’d be doing a second record. I thought we were offered an opportunity to document this body of work then I fully expected to go back to the bookstore where I was working,” Smith tells MOJO’s Martin Aston.
“I didn’t feel I was embarking on a career. The main mission in Horses was that rock’n’roll in 1974, at least in America, was going through a difficult transition. The ’60s was like the Renaissance. You had Hendrix and Morrison and Lennon and Neil Young and Grace Slick and Janis Joplin and the Stones, The Animals, you can go on and on, all the great R&B artists. And then many people died, and the culture was shifting into opulence and decadence.”
The singer says was ideally placed – and not self-conscious about engaging in such a project – thanks to her youth.
“The ’60s was like the Renaissance.”
“I was young, but I felt our cultural voice was in jeopardy and needed an infusion of new people and ideas. I didn’t feel like I was the one, I didn’t consider myself a musician in any way, but I was a poet and a performer, and I did feel that I understood where we were at, what we’d been given and where we should go, and if I could voice it, perhaps it could inspire the next generation,” she explains.
“I did Horses as a bridge, a touchstone, for the future, and if that sounds presumptuous, what’s more presumptuous than youth?”
Get the new issue of MOJO for an extensive look at Horses. Alongside the interview with Smith and the recollections of the record’s producer, Velvet Underground founder John Cale, guitarist Lenny Kaye has written exclusively for MOJO about the album’s creation.