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"Rock N Roll Nigger"
Song by Patti Smith

from the album Easter

Released March 3, 1978 (1978-03-03)
Recorded Record Plant Studios
Genre Punk rock
Length 3:13
Label Arista
Writer Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye
Producer Jimmy Iovine
Audio sample
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"Rock N Roll Nigger" is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, and released on Patti Smith Group 1978 album Easter. The song survives to this day, in the form of covers, but also as inclusion on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, from 1994.



A phrase repeated often in the song is "outside of society". Smith sings that Jimi Hendrix, Jackson Pollock, and "Jesus Christ and grandma too" were outside of society. Before the first time it is mentioned, Smith sings "Do you like the world around you? / Are you ready to behave?", thus meaning that anyone that questions norms, artists and humans alike, is a "nigger", in a positive sense.


U2 lead singer Bono references the song in a rant during their performance of "Bullet the Blue Sky" on the Elevation 2001: U2 Live from Boston DVD[citation needed]. Marilyn Manson released a cover on the Smells Like Children remix album. Manson cut out both the spoken word Babelogue track (which is often performed together with Rock N Roll Nigger as one work) and the poem which is interspersed in the song:

Those who have suffered
understand suffering
and thereby extend their hand
The storm that brings harm
also make fertile
Blessed is the grass and herb
and the tree of thorn and light

Punk bands Anti-Heros and Toe to Toe also covered the song.


In 2008, the song was listed in the The Pitchfork 500, a music guide published by Pitchfork Media that lists the top 500 songs between 1977 and 2006.[1]



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