Society Magazine

Songs from '78: "Because the Night"

Posted on the 08 March 2018 by Russellarbenfox
Songs from '78: Forty years and one week ago, the Patti Smith Group's groundbreaking rock-punk-folk album Easter began its march into the pop charts, led by its best song "Because the Night." I didn't hear it on the radio--at least, not then. The songs of 1978 which got stuck in my head in my tenth year were rock songs, to be sure, and as I've noted already, the influence of punk is clear in how it was undermining the progressive rock sensibility of the day and cross-pollinating with all sorts of rock and roll spin-offs, including disco and hard rock. But my gateway drug, an old Spokane, WA, AM radio station named KJRB which at the time was all pop and rock, didn't play Smith (or The Ramones for that matter). Still, I heard it eventually, I'm not sure when--and when I did, I suspect I knew exactly the moment it was a part of.
It's a strangely, angrily beautiful song, actually; a Bruce Springsteen composition (don't worry, he's going to show up later--as will The Ramones, for that matter) that he knew he couldn't sing right. His producer gave it to Smith--whose group was recording in the studio next door--and she reworked it and stuck it on her new album. The rest is history. Thanks Bruce!

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