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Music / Wave

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Wave, thou are music!

Wave is the fourth album by Patti Smith, released in 1979. The record is best remembered for "Dancing Barefoot", lyrics by Smith with music by guitarist Ivan Král. It was also Smith's last album for almost a decade. After the release of this album her band broke up so she could concentrate on raising her family. Only in 1988 did she release a new record, the LP Dream of Life.


Side One

  1. "Frederick" (3:01)
  2. "Dancing Barefoot" (4:18)
  3. "So You Want To Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)", cover of the The Byrds classic (4:18)
  4. "Hymn" (1:10)
  5. "Revenge" (5:06)

Side Two

  1. "Citizen Ship" (5:09)
  2. "Seven Ways Of Going" (5:12)
  3. "Broken Flag" (4:55)
  4. "Wave" (4:55)

The Patti Smith Group:

  • Patti Smith – vocals, piano on "Wave"
  • Jay Dee Daugherty – drums, consultant
  • Lenny Kaye – guitar, bass guitar on "Wave", vocals
  • Ivan Kral – bass guitar, guitar, cello on "Wave", keyboards
  • Richard Sohl – piano, ocean effects on "Wave"

With additional musicians:

  • Andi Ostrowe – percussion, timpani on "Seven Ways of Going"
  • Todd Rundgren – bass guitar on "Dancing Barefoot", production, engineering

Troping Barefoot

  • As the Good Book Says...: "Citizen Ship" quotes from Genesis 4:14.
  • Break-Up Song: "Revenge"
    I thought you were some perfect read-out
    Some digital delay had obscured
    And it secured phased my view
    Of the wicked hand you played
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: "So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star"
    What you pay for these riches and fame
    Well, it's all a vicious game
    You're a little insane
    What you get is the public acclaim
    Don't forget who you are
    You're a rock 'n' roll star
    • And she adds a personal exhortation: "Hey you! Come here! Get up! Ah, this is the era where everybody creates!"
  • Classical Music: "Hymn" has an autoharp accompanying Patti's vocals.
  • Cover Version: "So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star" is a Byrds cover.
    • U2's cover of "Dancing Barefoot" would come to be better known than the original.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The black-and-white cover.
  • Double Entendre: "Revenge" uses the metaphor of a wrist watch to talk about a broken relationship.
    I gave you a wristwatch, baby
    You wouldn't even give me the time of day
    You want to know what makes me tick
    Now it's me that's got precious little to say
  • Face on the Cover: Patti, holding two white doves. Her dress was a gift from her first artist-muse, Robert Mapplethorpe. "It was a tattered Victorian tea dress of handkerchief linen. I adored it and wore it in our apartment, a fragile armor against the ominous portents of 1968."
  • Heavy Meta:
    • "Dancing Barefoot"
    I'm dancing barefoot
    Heading for a spin
    Some strange music draws me in
    Makes me come on like some heroinenote 
    • "So You Want To Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)"
    So you want to be a rock & roll star
    Well listen now to what I say
    Get yourself an electric guitar
    And take some time and learn how to play
  • Homage: The Title Track is dedicated to The Pope; John Paul I, whose brief papacy (33 days) coincided with the recording sessions.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Hymn" which is only eight lines long and 1:10 long.
  • Location Song: "Broken Flag"
    For we're marching towards Algiers
  • One-Man Song: "Frederick"
  • One-Word Title: "Hymn", "Revenge" and "Wave".
  • The Power of Love:
    • "Frederick", about her husband''
    God has granted thy soul to keep
    All of the power that burns in the flame
    Ignites the light in a single name: Frederick
    Name of care—
    Fast asleep in a room somewhere
    Guardian angels fly above
    Shed your light on the one I love.
    • "Hymn"
    When I am troubled in the night
    He comes to comfort me
    He wills me through the darkness
    And the empty child is free
  • Pun-Based Title: "Citizen Ship"
    Won't you give me a lift, a lift, a lift
    On your citizen ship
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Frederick" is a love song for Patti's partner Fred "Sonic" Smith, guitarist of MC5, whom she would marry soon.
  • Record Producer: Todd Rundgren.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Frederick" uses the same melodic structure as "Because The Night".
  • Rule of Seven: "Seven Ways Of Going" has seven as an arc word.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The album is dedicated to Pope John Paul I, who died in 1978 after only 33 days. William S. Burroughs also receives thanks.
    • "Broken Flag" is dedicated in memory of Barbara Frietchie, a 90 year old woman from Frederick, Maryland, who, in 1862, waved the Union flag on its broken staff in the face of the enemy.
    • On the back cover of the original vinyl record a quote from Jean Genet's poem "Le Condamné à Mort" can be read.
    Oh go through the walls; if you must, walk on the ledges
    Of roofs, of oceans; cover yourself with light;
    Use menace, use prayer…
    My sleepers will flee toward another America
    Truth is in all things, even, partly in error
    • "Dancing Barefoot" is dedicated to Jeanne Hébuterne, mistress of sculptor Amadeo Modigliani.
    • "Citizen Ship" references the poem written underneath the Statue of Liberty.
    Jersey, give me your tired, your poor
    Give me your huddled masses
  • Special Guest: Todd Rundgren plays bass guitar on "Dancing Barefoot". He was also producer and engineer on this record.
  • Spoken Word in Music: During "Dancing Barefoot" Patti recites a poem near the end. In "Wave" she speaks to Pope Luciani, as if telling him what she would have said had they really met. note 
    'Bye, sir. 'Bye, papá.
  • Stutter Stop: "Wave"
    I, I, I, I, I, how are you? how are you?
  • Tattered Flag: "Broken Flag" is also an exploration of this idea (the song is about the American Civil War). An image of a tattered American flag can be seen inside the booklet and the song is dedicated to Barbara Fritchie (1766-1862), a Unionist during the American Civil War who, according to legend at the age of 95 waved the Union flag to antagonize the troops of Stonewall Jackson, as they passed through the town of Frederick. The actual woman who did this was named Mary Quantrell. Fritchie had also inspired a famous, eponymous poem by John Greenleaf Whittier: "'Shoot if you must this old grey head/ But spare your country's flag!' she said."
  • Title Track: "Wave".
    Wave thou art pretty
    Wave thou art fine
    Wave thou art music
    Wave thou art wine