"Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer(de)" as written by and Richard A. Whiting Byron Gay....
The boy was in the hallway drinking a glass of tea
From the other end of the hallway a rhythm was generating
Another boy was sliding up the hallway
He merged perfectly with the hallway,
He merged perfectly, the mirror in the hallway

The boy looked at Johnny, Johnny wanted to run,
But the movie kept moving as planned
The boy took Johnny, he pushed him against the locker,
He drove it in, he drove it home, he drove it deep in Johnny
The boy disappeared, Johnny fell on his knees,
Started crashing his head against the locker,
Started crashing his head against the locker,
Started laughing hysterically

When suddenly Johnny gets the feeling he's being surrounded by
Horses, horses, horses, horses
Coming in in all directions
White shining, silver studs with their nose in flames,
He saw horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses.
Do you know how to pony like bony maroney
Do you know how to twist, well it goes like this, it goes like this
Baby mash potato, do the alligator, do the alligator
And you twist the twister like your baby sister
I want your baby sister, give me your baby sister, dig your baby sister
Rise up on her knees, do the sweet pea, do the sweet pee pee,
Roll down on her back, got to lose control, got to lose control,
Got to lose control and then you take control,
Then you're rolled down on your back and you like it like that,
Like it like that, like it like that, like it like that,
Then you do the watusi, yeah do the watusi

Life is filled with holes, Johnny's laying there, in his sperm coffin
Angel looks down at him and says, "Oh, pretty boy,
Can't you show me nothing but surrender?"
Johnny gets up, takes off his leather jacket,
Taped to his chest there's the answer,
You got pen knives and jack knives and
Switchblades preferred, switchblades preferred
Then he cries, then he screams, saying
Life is full of pain, I'm cruisin' through my brain
And I fill my nose with snow and go Rimbaud,
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud,
And go Johnny go, and do the watusi, oh do the watusi

There's a little place, a place called space
It's a pretty little place, it's across the tracks,
Across the tracks and the name of the place is you like it like that,
You like it like that, you like it like that, you like it like that,
And the name of the band is the
Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes,
Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes

Baby calm down, better calm down,
On the night, in the eye of the forest
There's a mare black and shining with yellow hair,
I put my fingers through her silken hair and found a stair,
I didn't waste time, I just walked right up and saw that
Up there, there is a sea
Up there, there is a sea
Up there, there is a sea
The sea's the possibility
There is no land but the land (Up there is just a sea of possibilities)
There is no sea but the sea (Up there is a wall of possibilities)
There is no keeper of the key (Up there there are several walls of possibilities)
Except for one who seizes possibilities, one who seizes possibilities. (Up there)
I seize the first possibility, is the sea around me
I was standing there with my legs spread like a sailor
I felt his hand on my knee (On the screen)
And I looked at Johnny and handed him a branch of cold flame (In the heart of man)
The waves were coming in like Arabian stallions
Gradually lapping into sea horses
He picked up the blade and he pressed it against his smooth throat(The spoon)
And let it deep in (The veins)
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities (It started hardening)
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities

I put my hand inside his cranium, oh we had such a brainiac-amour
But no more, no more, I gotta move from my mind to the area
(Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud)
And go Johnny go and do the watusi,
Yeah do the watusi, do the watusi
Shined open, coiled snakes white and shiny twirling and encircling
Our lives are now entwined, we will fall yes we're together twining
Your nerves, your mane of the black shining horse
And my fingers all entwined in your silky hair,
I could feel it, it was the hair going through my fingers,
The hairs were like wires going through my body
I, I that's how I
That's how I
I died (At that Tower of Babel they knew what they were after)
(They knew what they were after)
(Everything on the current) Moved up
I tried to stop it, but it was too warm, too unbelievably smooth,
Like playing in the sea, in the sea of possibility, the possibility
Was a blade, a shiny blade, I hold the key to the sea of possibilities
There's no land, but the land

Looked at my hands, and there's a red stream
That went streaming through the sands like fingers,
Like arteries, like fingers
He lay, pressing it against his throat (Your eyes)
He opened his throat (Your eyes)
His vocal chords started shooting like (of a horse) mad pituitary glands
The scream he made (and my heart) was so high (my heart) pitched that nobody heard,
No one heard that cry,
No one heard (Johnny) the butterfly flapping in his throat,
Nobody heard, he was on that bed, it was like a sea of jelly,
And so he seized the first (His vocal chords shot up)
It was a black tube, he felt himself disintegrate (There is nothing happening at all)
And go inside the black tube, so when he looked out into the steep
Saw this sweet young thing (Fender one)
Humping on the parking meter, leaning on the parking meter

In the sheets
There was a man
Dancing around
To the simple
Rock & roll

Lyrics submitted by spazticfreak

"Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De)" as written by Richard A. Whiting Byron Gay

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer(de) song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThe popular interpretation's of rape, stabbing, suicide and heroin do seem pretty logical when considering the text on it's own. But now that Patti has released her memoirs it turns many of those assumptions on their heads. First off, to burst the bubble of the heroin interpretation, at least as far as it being the main theme of the song, according to her book Patti has needle phobia and whilst many people at the time simply assumed she "shot up" the truth is she was never really interested in it and seemed to be fairly wary of drugs in general. She didn't experiment with drugs until her late 20's, years after coming to NY. She was inspired to try a little marijuana after seeing The Harder They Come. Later on her closest friend Robert Mapplethorpe persuaded her to take a trip with him, his drug of choice being LSD. According to this book it was what she experienced during that trip that sparked the overall shape of the song. So unless we were actually inside her head at that moment we'll probably never fully understand all the imagery. That being said she does identify the Johnny as Robert, perhaps also making some correlation between him and several musicians she personally knew who's names all started with J and who all baring one died young. The horse she identifies as William Burroughs, bet you didn't see that one coming! Maybe that's an inside joke, or to do with the fact that I believe he famously hated horse. She also refers to Burroughs as a "Guardian Angel". Anyway Roberts hustling is probably rapped up in it somewhere, and maybe there are references to heroin. But I think it can all only really be linked together in an abstract sense by what ever she experienced on that fateful LSD trip and only she is privy to that experience.
    replaceableheadon December 02, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhat the fuck kind of asshole drinks a glass of tea
    Meathaven45on July 31, 2014   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI agree with replaceablehead in that Patti's book basically rules out any connection to heroin use, but that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't any images of rape and suicide in the song. And she didn't actually say that her LSD trip sparked/drove the overall shape and meaning of the song.. I think it just sparked much of the imagery used in the song (imagery which is used to convey a message). To me, the song is about transcendence. The "coiled snakes" of Hermes guide young Johnny through the major transitions in his spiritual life: from his darkest point to his most enlightened state, then finally on to his death. Patti specifically noted in the book that Land has "wild-boy imagery fused with the stages of Hendrix's death".

    More importantly, I don't think it matters _who_ Johnny is.. it's more about what he _represents_, which is many people and many things. He represents youth. He holds the ideals of America and freedom in his heart. He represents all the strange goodness that came out of the 60's.. a goodness that couldn't live on forever (as marked by the deaths of many of its most esteemed figures, like Hendrix). He also represents someone who has been beaten down spiritually by the human world around him. This is most obvious during the initial scene described in the song where Johnny is pushed against a locker and raped by another boy (an image likely born out of Patti's fears with respect to Robert Mapplethorpe and his hustling). This is also made especially clear in more recent performances of Land, where an extended intro is given.

    Johnny transcends from a depressed, low-functioning spiritual state to an extremely enlightened state where he indulges in dance (shown in the verses taken from Land of a Thousand Dances), sex ("dig your baby sister"), and drugs ("fill my nose with snow"). These things all make him feel free from the society that constantly beats him down spiritually. There is also new freedom found in the realization that there is no God to judge us, and we must judge our own actions ("there is no land but the land, no sea but the sea.. no keeper of the key.. except the one who seizes possibilities"). But ultimately, Johnny can't do it.. he continues to see life as full of holes and pain.. so he slits his throat and kills himself (as he transcends toward death), which is what the final part is really describing imo. It's sad, but also not sad in the sense that Johnny did find pure, untainted freedom for at least a short time.
    rejesterdon June 28, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEasily some of my favourite lyrics ever. Just brilliant free flowing improvised poetry. Patti Smith is amazing.
    Red_Left_Handon September 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRemember that photography artist Robert Mapplethorpe is on the album cover, that Patti had a sexual relationship with him, even though he was apparently exclusively homosexual the rest of his life, that the song was written in the 70s when the male homosexual culture was flowering in NY, as was BDSM activity. I think the song is about a revelatory homosexual encounter. It starts with Johnny being on the receiving end, so to speak: "he drove it deep in Johnny", "Johnny fell on his knees started crashing his head against the locker", "twist the twister", "do the sweet pee pee", "Then you're rolled down on your back and you like it like that". But then Johnny decides to take control, with the other guy receiving, so to speak. References to Johnny's knives are obviously phallic. And the "I fill my nose with snow" is an obvious drug ref (although it may not have been as obvious back in the 70s). I'll stop there, but I could continue with obvious references to sexually explicit acts. Why would Patti sing such a long and complex song about sex between two men? The time of the song was the 70s when homosexual men in NY finally were able to feel free to express their true selves. Patti had a front row seat to the scene and undoubtably was inspired by it.
    shannon_r_whiteon April 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI believe that if you read Patti Smith's book "Just Kids" you will come to realize that this song is all about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. The gay hustler rape by a gang of men were themes of his obsessions and his photography. When Patti & Robert were lovers they used to dance to a greatest Hits Motown album, which I would guess would have contained Wilson Pickets "Land of 1,000 Dances". Robert was a gay hustler then and they were both obsessed with Rimbaud. Go Rimabaud, Go Johnny Go. Johnny is Robert. Read the book....it is a magical journey and by far the best book I ever read.
    Monstalovaon October 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a rush.
    maggotbrainon June 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn my opinion this is one of the greatest rock sons ever!
    Frederikon August 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment*songs
    Frederikon August 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEasily some of my favourite lyrics ever. Just brilliant free flowing improvised poetry. Patti Smith is amazing.
    Red_Left_Handon September 20, 2005   Link

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