Tag Archives: Gloria

1965 Songs: “Gloria”

(Before you read this, I’m aware that I might technically be cheating as “Gloria” was recorded in 1964, and released as the B-side of “Baby Please Don’t Go“.  However, it gained popularity when it rereleased in 1965 as an A-side, thus making it  a song of 1965.)

“Satisfaction” and “You Really Got Me”, “Louie, Louie” be damned, “Gloria” is the ultimate garage anthem.  The song is propelled by a distinctive three-chord riff that accentuates the ode to sex and lust.  Throughout the first verse, most of the tension is built upon Morrison’s growling Howlin’ Wolf imitation.

In “Gloria” isn’t just telling you that he got laid, but rather is sticking it to you about how good it was.  “Like to tell you about my baby,” he declares at the beginning of the song, as if you actually asked.  “She make me feel so good, she make me feel alright,” is the kind of line where you tell the person to shut – that they’ve given away too much information.  Who wants to hear the details of sex?  When Morrison first spells out Gloria’s name – it seems like a kind of joke.  But when he blows through it the second time – there’s a menace and lust.  It’s as if by shouting her name, he’s taken possession of her.  By publicly declaring her name in the streets, she is his.  Later she appears at his door – and she makes him feel alright again.

Them: “Gloria”

Van Morrison Performing “Gloria”:

“Gloria” has been covered many artists, and it has become a concert staple for many groups because of its sing-a-long chorus.  Patti Smith completely rearranged the song – transforming it into a punk anthem. U2 frequently performed ‘”Gloria” (not to be confused with their own completely different song “Gloria”) at the tail end of their song “Exit” during the Joshua Tree tour.

And then of course there’s Bruce Springsteen cover “Gloria” with the best-bar in the world:

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Patti Smith’s version of “Gloria”

“London Calling” or “Anarchy in the UK” are usually seen as the two definitive anthems of punk, but I think that Patti Smith’s version of “Gloria” is the perfect punk song.  Smith turns a rock and roll classic sing-along into a snarling nightmare fueled by rage, disgust and irony.  It even begins with the sinister line, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

The version by Them is a classic by itself, and I’ve seen numerous artists cover it.  (Including Springsteen do a stellar version in 2008.)  Along with “Satisfaction”, “Hound Dog”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Louie Louie”, “Gloria” sums up the sound of rock and roll.  It opens up the possibilities of what happens when a group of people get together and plug in their instruments.  Van Morrison, usually known for his soulful jazz vocals, gives a vocal performance that lies somewhere between a sexual snarl, and triumphant yell.

As much as the Them version came to define the garage rock sound of the early 60’s, Smith’s version truly embodies the punk ethos musically and lyrically.  It’s sometimes thought that punks detested all rock and roll prior to their arrival.  But it’s obvious that Smith has a love for the original, but in keeping up with the punk attitude creates an irreverent version of a stone-cold classic.  Whether Morrison is after the girl, Smith actually achieves her lust and it’s not enough to just have the experience, she “has to make her mine, make her mine”.  The ways Smith growls the lyrics you have to wonder whether this is mere lust or an exorcism of past demons through sexual acts.

Check out Them’s “Gloria”

And Smith’s version:

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