Patti Smith is one of the revered artists when it comes to the art of a cover song. Her ability to jump onto a classic number and make it her own while still paying homage to the original means she’s one of the best in the business at doing a cover the right way.
Stepping back into the Far Out Vault, we revisit a unique cover of Jefferson Airplane’s counterculture classic, ‘White Rabbit’. The song’s trippy nature is perfectly gobbled up by Smith’s provocative style of performance, doing her best to match up Grace Slick’s incredible style.
As part of Patti Smith’s 2007 covers album Twelve, Smith jumped on board to deliver her own version of some iconic tracks. As well as Jefferson Airplane’s iconic ‘White Rabbit’, Smith also covered, Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’, The Rolling Stones hit ‘Gimme Shelter’ and, of course, Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ all with the virtuoso artistry that made her the godmother of punk.
While many have pointed out that the 2007 LP as a mark of Smith pandering to her recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we believe it actually marks a moment of finding her feet in her new role of elder statesmen. Smith was always an agitator, a serial provocateur, so when she began finding herself in the ‘legends’ slots at festivals, it was undoubtedly a significant moment of realisation.
She chose to expel these demons the only way she knew how. She jumped on a bunch of classic tracks and did her best work, selecting some iconic moments to make her own. Critics of the time may have seen this as a deliberate ploy to cash in, but we see it as a deliberate ploy to grab her crown and sit at the high table of rock and roll royalty.
Listen below as Patti Smith covers Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’.