"The time has come to take this mo­ment."

Early in 1978, Patti was poised to break through with Be­cause The Night. All she needed was a na­tional TV spot…

Mojo (UK) - - The Mojo Interview -

IN 1977, Jimmy Iovine was do­ing dou­ble-duty at the Record Plant in New York: pro­duc­ing Patti Smith’s third al­bum, Easter, at the same time he was en­gi­neer­ing Bruce Spring­steen’s Dark­ness On The Edge Of Town. When Spring­steen de­cided to shelve an un­fin­ished love song from his ses­sions, Iovine took it to Smith, who added lyrics about her new ro­mance with fu­ture hus­band Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. As Iovine said later, “I knew a girl singing that song, to a guy, was the sex­i­est thing in the world.” Re­leased in March, 1978, Be­cause The Night be­came a Top 40 hit. Patti soon got an in­vi­ta­tion from Dick Clark, the rock’n’roll-TV im­pre­sario, to per­form on The Amer­i­can Mu­sic Awards. “Dick Clark called my house,” she says. “I guess he got my num­ber from Clive [Davis, the head of Arista]. It was a very big show, re­ally ex­cit­ing. He was telling me the pa­ram­e­ters and said, ‘They’ll get the mas­ter [tape] from Clive.’ I said, Oh, no, we can play that song per­fectly. He said, ‘You have to lip sync.’ “I said, No, I can’t lip sync. He said, ‘Yes, you can.’ I said, I can’t and I won’t. Mr Clark, I am an artist, and I can’t do that. He said, ‘I’m a busi­ness­man, and if you don’t do that, you’ll prob­a­bly see ev­ery­thing slip­ping away.’ He wasn’t threat­en­ing me. He was sim­ply telling me the facts.” Smith re­fused to lip sync; Clark pro­duced the show with­out her. Be­cause The Night – a thun­der­ing pledge of de­vo­tion fus­ing the the­atri­cal di­men­sion of Spring­steen’s writ­ing with Smith’s ex­plo­sive sen­su­al­ity – stalled out­side Bill­board’s Top 10, at Num­ber 13, with last­ing reper­cus­sions. “We didn’t get a sec­ond sin­gle [from the la­bel],” she says. “Things were more dif­fi­cult in Amer­ica. That’s OK. I went to Europe. We played for 80,000 peo­ple in Italy. In Amer­ica, Be­cause The Night was a big-enough hit for me. But in terms of air­play and record-com­pany sup­port, in terms of con­scious­ness, that al­bum didn’t take us where one prob­a­bly should have gone.”

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