Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2044-1983
  • E-ISSN: 2044-3706


Patti Smith Group’s (PSG) music occupies a puzzling spot in punk history, given their oscillation between stylistic elements common to rock and roll and a range of ideas inherited from literature and avant-gardism. This article suggests that Smith’s work can be understood in light of her interest in the occult, part of a broader project to render rock and roll as a form of ritualistic practice. I begin by examining the way in which Smith and her commentators engaged with mystical themes, looking not only at her direct relationship to the spiritual world, but also her peculiar interpretation of rock. From there, I argue that Smith extended occult aesthetics, seeking the magical impart hidden within the milieu of midcentury US mass culture. Concluding with an analysis of ‘Land’, one of the group’s most iconic songs, I claim that the singer ultimately attempted to transform punk into an act of musical palingenesis, a form of sonic rebirth.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): music and magic; palingenesis; Patti Smith; Patti Smith Group; punk; the occult
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