Patti Smith – Hey Joe (Version) / Piss Factory (1974)

“Patti Smith’s ‘Piss Factory’ was in many ways the punk rock shot heard around the world. In 1974, as the New York Dolls were falling apart, the CBGB’s scene was just beginning to incubate, the Ramones were starting to come together, the Sex Pistols and the Damned were learning glam rock covers, and Richard Hell was ripping up his shirts, Smith and three musician friends — Lenny Kaye and Tom Verlaine on guitars, and Richard Sohl on piano — walked into Electric Ladyland studios in New York to set two of Smith’s poems to music during an hour of studio time paid for by Smith’s close friend, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe then pressed and distributed a single of the two songs cut in that hour, and if the results didn’t sound like what came to be known as ‘punk rock,’ their daring and audacity set them apart from anything else on the rock scene at the time, and Smith’s willingness to seize the means of production was a crucial early salvo in the DIY revolution punk would help to spawn. ‘Piss Factory’ was a vivid bit of post-beat poetry in which Smith half sang, half spoke a claustrophobic rant about a horrible job she held while growing up in New Jersey. Smith made the heat, boredom, tension, and fights with her older co-workers seem as real and as hurtful as a car wreck, while Sohl’s bop-influenced piano drove the verse along with a sure and potent power. At the song’s end, Smith promises to herself that she’ll never go back to the blue-collar trap, declaring, ‘I’m gonna get on that train and go to New York City/And I’m gonna be somebody/I’m gonna be so big!’ Seventeen years later, Patti read “Piss Factory” to kick off a rare public performance, held to benefit AIDS-related charities; after she read the final line, Smith looked up from her pages, and with a quiet smile that betrayed the cocky kid still lurking inside her, said, ‘And that’s just what I did.'”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Piss Factory, Hey Joe


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