It's hard for female rock musicians to be taken seriously. There was Janis Joplin, of course. And Tina Turner is pretty kick-ass. But most women get lumped into the girl-group and soulful-singer-songwriter categories that just don't sound very tough. But not Patti Smith. The 63-year-old has managed to combine her music with poetry and performance art two very nonbadass things and somehow come out looking cooler because of it. Not to mention her 1975 punk-infused cover of Van Morrison's "Gloria," which takes the folk standard and turns it into a longing, crying, sinful screed. A cover song never sounded this good.
Bonus trivia: Smith's memoir, Just Kids, about her young life with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, has just been nominated for a National Book Award. How very punk rock.
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