Patti Smith

Redondo Beach

Song Review by

Patti Smith used to introduce "Redondo Beach" on-stage by announcing, "Redondo Beach is a beach where women love other women." Whatever relationship such a statement may have to the actual shoreline city of Redondo Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles, it gives a lesbian context to the song's story, which concerns a quarrel between two women leading to a suicide. The song's narrator reveals that she is staying in a hotel where she has argued with the woman she addresses in the song who, she says, has then drowned herself. "Are you gone-gone?," she asks over and over, unable to accept her companion's death even as she describes it. The lyric is set to a simplified reggae beat that adds a relentless abruptness to the aching pain of the story, never allowing the singer to escape from the inevitability of death, yet preventing the song from becoming really maudlin. Co-written with Smith's guitarist (Lenny Kaye) and keyboard player (Richard Sohl), "Redondo Beach" was the second song on her celebrated debut album, Horses, released in 1975, and it was a staple of her live show. It didn't have much of a life beyond that, though Rhino Records used the Smith recording on its 1995 compilation Ranking and Skanking: The Best of Punky Reggae. The first cover version seems to be Angel Corpus Christi's on the 1999 album I Love New York, a disc given over to recordings of songs by New York-based artists.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Horses 1975 Arista 3:26
Ranking and Skanking: The Best of Punky Reggae 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 3:26