Patti Smith / Patti Smith Group

Dancing Barefoot

Composed by Ivan Král / Patti Smith

Song Review by

In 1979, as she was making the album Wave, Patti Smith married former MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, and by all accounts she was utterly, totally in love with him, so much so that she retired for the better part of 15 years to stay home with him and raise their family. The album's leadoff track, "Frederick," was obviously a paean to the man she loved, but the album's best and most enduring track, "Dancing Barefoot," was equally significant as a hypnotically beautiful ode to the mysteries of human attraction. Like the poet she is, Smith's lyrics infer more than they outwardly say, but in her own mysterious way, "Here I go and I don't know why/I spin so ceaselessly/Till I lose my sense of gravity" says as much about the overpowering feeling of being caught up in the undertow of desire as anyone ever has in pop music, and Ivan Kral wrapped up Smith's remarkable lyric in a simple but utterly unforgettable melody that made the words all the more powerful. Smith's original version was easily Wave's finest moment, and while the individual nature of Smith's material didn't inspire a large number of cover versions of most of her songs, "Dancing Barefoot" has developed something of a life of its own over the years. Of the many covers of the tune, the Celibate Rifles figured out how to make the song rock hard while still staying in touch with its subtleties, while the Feelies' superb take on the song (sadly distributed only as a promo single and a give-away flexidisc) gives it a remarkable sustained guitar line that makes it (by long odds) the most musically satisfying recording of the song.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Wave 1979 Arista 4:18
blue highlight denotes editor's pick