Gloria: in the voice of Patti Smith and in the premiere of The Serpent Queen

When she was about 20 years old, Patti Smith wrote a poem called “Oath” that began with a bold statement. “Jesus died for someone else’s sins, but not mine,” she wrote. Catholic upbringing but always rebellious and original, she explained to Mojo magazine years later: “It was my declaration of independence from being fettered by any particular religious institution, not any declaration against Jesus Christ. It was the beginning of my evolution as a young woman that led me to Horses [her iconic album].”

On this album, one of the great hits is the cover of Gloria, by Van Morrison. By all accounts, Patti’s version of the song started out as a jam, with the musicians playing with chord riffs while lead singer Patti sang, recited poetry, and told stories. What became a signature of the artist.

Gloria‘s original version was written by Van Morrison in 1964, for the album The Angry Young Them. The lyrics speak of an independent girl, but in Patti’s version, they allude to the Catholic hymn, Gloria in Excelsis Deo, from the 2nd or 3rd century, which emphasizes God’s Glory. That’s how she credits the song, even though it’s a rock cover. With “deliberate sacrilege” aimed at shocking, Patti created a classic.

And how does it fit into The Serpent Queen? As the series has an ironic and acid narrative, it is perfect to end the first episode.

“Melting in a pot of thieves, a joker up her sleeve, heart made of stone. My sins are mine, they belong to me, to me,” she opens Gloria, and fits in with the clever survivor Catarina. “People say ‘beware!’ but I don’t care, the words are just rules and regulations for me,” she goes on.

The Catarina described by Leonie Frieda is a strategist who has learned not to depend on anyone. Rebel? Undoubtedly. Perfect for listening to Patti Smith.

Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine
Meltin’ in a pot of thieves
Wild card up my sleeve
Thick heart of stone
My sins my own
They belong to me, me
People say “beware!”
But I don’t care
The words are just
Rules and regulations to me, me
I-I walk in a room, you know I look so proud
I’m movin’ in this here atmosphere, well, anything’s allowed
And I go to this here party and I just get bored
Until I look out the window, see a sweet young thing
Humpin’ on the parking meter, leanin’ on the parking meter
Oh, she looks so good, oh, she looks so fine
And I got this crazy feeling and then
I’m gonna ah-ah make her mine
Ooh i’ll put my spell on her
Here she comes
Walkin’ down the street
Here she comes
Comin’ through my door
Here she comes
Crawlin’ up my stair
Here she comes
Waltzin’ through the hall
In a pretty red dress
And oh, she looks so good, oh, she looks so fine
And I got this crazy feeling that I’m gonna ah-ah make her mine
And then I hear this knockin’ on my door
Hear this knockin’ on my door
And I look up into the big tower clock
And say, “oh my God here’s midnight!”
And my baby is walkin’ through the door
Leanin’ on my couch she whispers to me and I take the big plunge
And oh, she was so good and oh, she was so fine
And I’m gonna tell the world that I just ah-ah made her mine
And I said darling, tell me your name, she told me her name
She whispered to me, she told me her name
And her name is, and her name is, and her name is,
And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
I was at the stadium
There were twenty thousand girls
Called their names out to me
Marie and Ruth but to tell you the truth
I didn’t hear them I didn’t see
I let my eyes rise to the big tower clock
And I heard those bells chimin’ in my heart
Going ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong.
Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong
Counting the time, then you came to my room
And you whispered to me and we took the big plunge
And oh. You were so good, oh, you were so fine
And I gotta tell the world that I make her mine make her mine
Make her mine make her mine make her mine make her mine
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria,
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
And the tower bells chime, “ding dong” they chime
They’re singing, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.”
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A,
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A, G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria,
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria,
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria

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