When Things Were Weird: Patti Smith On A 70s Childrens’ Show

Once upon a time, strange things were allowed to happen on network television.

My favorite thing about older TV clips is finding those occasional moments of worlds absurdly colliding, moments where you can tangibly observe that corporations and marketing demons didn't have such a stranglehold on everything. We don't see it much today; we wanted to feel that again with Sacha Baron Cohen's red carpet stunt on the Oscars last Sunday, but no. I don't suppose those moments are allowed to happen too much anymore.

That's too bad, but it makes the truly weird, incongruous, WTF moments even more special. Case in point: I'd like to show you protopunk Renaissance woman Patti Smith taking questions from an audience full of screaming children on ABC's TV show Kids Are People Too in 1979. Aside from "Because The Night," I don't recall Ms. Smith being a huge part of my childhood, but you wouldn't know it from the sight of these jacked-up youngsters eager to be next in the audience Q&A (it's kind of cool that it's the teen girls who seem most excited to talk to Smith). It's a bizarre juxtaposition to see the singer of "Rock-n-Roll Nigger" being served up to minors by a TV network, but as if the scene wasn't already weird enough, Patti then launches into a cover of Debby Boone's MOR radio hit "You Light Up My Life." And as Bruce Springsteen can tell you, Patti Smith's cover versions are usually worth a listen.