Patti Smith had always defended the use of the ‘N’ word in her 1978 track ‘Rock N Roll N****r’.
Punk queen Patti Smith’s song ‘Rock n Roll N****r’ has been quietly removed by stream services over the course of the past few months, the Rolling Stone magazine has noticed.
The track from Patti Smith Group’s 1978 album ‘Easter’ has disappeared from platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Music, the outlet reported on Friday, adding that the exact date of the removals was unknown.
The streaming services didn’t provide any reason for the move, with Smith, who is now 75, declining to comment when asked about the issue by the magazine.
However, the singer had consistently defended the use of the ‘N’ word in the name and chorus of the song over the past four decades. She said she wanted to redefine its meaning, and used the term to describe any outcast who rejects generally accepted norms – like herself.
“You could have called Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci a n****r – people that created art for the palace but had to come in the back door,” Smith told Rolling Stone in 1996.
“I was taking this archaic use of the word n****r and sort of reinventing it. It was the idea of taking a word that was specific and hurtful to people and obliterating it, blowing that apart and reinventing it so it was more like a badge of courage. Like the kids did with the word punk. It was part of my group’s attempt to break the boundaries, to obliterate labels,” she explained.
The song is still available on physical copies of the ‘Easter’ album, as well as for those who buy the full album as a download, according to the report.
‘Rock N Roll N****r’ has been covered by a number of other artists over the years, including Marilyn Manson, whose version of the song still remains on streaming services and on YouTube.
Image credit: Klaus Hiltscher, CC BY-SA 2.0