Then the weirdest thing happened: in 1978 Patti Smith became a one-hit wonder with her remake / remodel of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because The Night.” That, of course, was the first time I ever heard her in any context, and, I gotta admit, I only thought it was OK. When it came on the radio, I didn’t turn it off, but I didn’t turn it up, either.
That said, “Because The Night” did generate enough buzz that its mothership Easter, and the follow-up, Wave both cracked the top 20, and I even remember her pretty decent cover of The Byrds “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” got pretty decent airplay on KKDJ.
So maybe radio , I’m not quite sure why “Dancing Barefoot,” perhaps the most natural single Patti Smith ever recorded, totally and completely stiffed. Maybe it was because radio had decided that she was a covers artist, and therefore ignored her originals? In any event, “Dancing Barefoot” didn’t chart anywhere, and I’m pretty sure I heard it more through other people’s versions than her original version. But over the last 30 years, “Dancing Barefoot” has been upgraded from an also-ran single to all-time classic, and has taken its place as probably her most beloved song, give or take a “Gloria.”
And why not? Driven by a sinuous rhythm — bass provided by producer Todd Rundgren — and folk-rock instrumentation, “Dancing Barefoot” has an honest-to-good massively hooky chorus that is equal parts mysterious and obvious. She’s singing about fucking, duh.
I’m dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come on like some heroine
Later on, Lenny Kaye dives in with a guitar solo that echos the melody line of the verses and backing away while Ivan Kral’s keyboards take over for a few bars until they circle back to the final verse.
After that, Patti chants “Oh god, I fell for you” over and over and over, while counterpointing herself with poetic ruminations on the usual: life, death, love, etc. Anything to distract herself from the fact that she’s fallen for him and all she wants to do is dancing barefoot because of it.
Fan-made video for “Dancing Barefoot”
“Dancing Barefoot” live in Germany, 1979
“Dancing Barefoot” live at CBGBs, 1979
“Dancing Barefoot” live in France, 2004
“Dancing Barefoot” on Jools Holland, 2008
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