Described, variously, as the perfect fusion of poetry and garage band rock and roll (the original concept was "rock and Rimbaud"), Horses belongs as much to the world of literary and cultural criticism as it does to the realm of musicology. Thus, while due attention will be given to the record's origins in the nascent New York punk scene, the book's core will be a detailed analysis of Patti Smith's lyrics - the book will approach Horses as a work of performance poetry more than anything else.The book's centrepiece will be a track-by-track breakdown of the original album sequence, together with detailed discussion of outtakes and early recordings. There will be sections that focus on a specific lyrical preoccupation: love, sex, gender, death, dreams, God, metamorphosis, intoxication, apocalypse and transcendence. Philip Shaw demonstrates how Horses transformed the possibilities of both poetry and rock music; how it achieved nothing less than a complete and systematic derangement of the senses.
Philip Shaw is a Reader in the Department of English at the University of Leicester. His previous publications include Waterloo and the Romantic Imagination (2002) and The Sublime (2006). He writes songs and plays guitar in the group Alberteen: http://www.myspace.com/alberteenmusic