I thought about editing the offensive word out of the title, a word I can’t even say, but that would be disingenuous. It would also be contrary to what Patti Smith was trying to do with this song. If Frank Zappa is the Godfather of the Freaks, then Patti Smith is our Queen.
“Outside of society.” This was a song about what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. It’s a furious rant at the corporate and conventional forces that keep so many people outside. It’s a celebration of being on the outside. Because freaks know that outside is where you really want to be.
See, we freaks, we know that we can pretend and look the part for short periods of time. We can fake it and fool people into believing we’re “normal” for a little while. But then one day we’ll slip up. “Oh, I’m a ________________.” Fill in the blank with whatever you want; it doesn’t really matter. Because whatever you put in that blank is going to label you a freak to someone. They’ll mutter it under their breath like it’s some kind of insult. But it isn’t.
So listen to this song and remember the power you have. Yeah, I’m a freak. I’m a weirdo, a nut job, a looney tune. I’m a liberal, a pacifist, a feminist, a GLBTQ ally, and I vote. I like animals better than most people. I name inanimate objects. I read fanfiction. I still watch Scooby Doo. And I might be a freak, but so is everyone else. Everyone does something freaky. Freaks are the only normal people out there. Thank goodness for that.