Patti Smith Sings “You Light Up My Life” with Composer Joe Brooks on 1979 Show Kids Are People Too

Maybe the Yo Gab­ba Gab­ba of its day, the Sun­day morn­ing kids’ show Kids are Peo­ple Too ran from 1978 to 1982, dur­ing which time it attract­ed such guests as Cheap Trick and KISS to its stu­dio. KISS was vir­tu­al­ly a car­toon already, and Cheap Trick def­i­nite­ly had its kid-friend­ly ele­ments, but one of the show’s musi­cal guests prob­a­bly did­n’t reach into a lot kids’ bed­rooms with her blas­phe­mous take on Van Morrison’s “Glo­ria,” her “Hey Joe / Piss Fac­to­ry,” or her spo­ken word open let­ter to Pat­ty Hearst. But the lengthy Q&A with Pat­ti Smith before she sings, with host Michael Young prompt­ing ques­tions from excit­ed audi­ence mem­bers, leaves me with the impres­sion that she was more pop­u­lar with Amer­i­ca’s youth than I thought.

Maybe it was her 1978 hit “Because the Night,” writ­ten by Bruce Spring­steen, that tempt­ed Kids are Peo­ple Too’s pro­duc­ers to invite Smith on the show to sing anoth­er cov­er, “You Light Up My Life,” with com­pos­er Joe Brooks. It’s a pret­ty weird moment in pop cul­ture his­to­ry, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the strange turns both musi­cians’ lives took. Smith went on to win a Nation­al Book Award and remains vital and cre­ative. Brooks went on to a very sor­did, igno­min­ious end. But here, they cross paths after Brooks won an Oscar for his song and Smith had recov­ered from a dis­as­trous fall from the stage and reboot­ed her career in a more pop direc­tion. Despite her greater mass appeal, Young still assumes that Pat­ti Smith means one thing. He even asks the kids in the stu­dio audi­ence, “didn’t you say Pat­ti Smith, punk rock, right?” The kids all yell back, “Yeah!” Hip kids or very effec­tive teleprompter? You be the judge.

*Note, an ear­li­er ver­sion of this post iden­ti­fied the host as Bob McAl­lis­ter and stat­ed that “Hearst went on to win a Nation­al Book Award.” As some read­ers have point­ed out, the host was Michael Young, and it was Smith, of course, not Pat­ty Hearst, who won the Nation­al Book Award in 2010.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

See Pat­ti Smith Give Two Dra­mat­ic Read­ings of Allen Ginsberg’s “Foot­note to Howl”

Watch Pat­ti Smith Read from Vir­ginia Woolf, and Hear the Only Sur­viv­ing Record­ing of Woolf’s Voice

Pat­ti Smith Shares William S. Bur­roughs’ Advice for Writ­ers and Artists

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (7) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (7)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Suzanne says:

    Are you sure this is Bob McAl­lis­ter? The Bob McAl­lis­ter I remem­ber — the sec­ond host, after Soupy Sales, of the NY-based chil­dren’s show “Won­dera­ma,” the pre­cur­sor to “Kids Are Peo­ple Too” — was much old­er. And since when did Pat­ty Hearst win the Nation­al Book Award? (or were you refer­ring to anoth­er Hearst?)

  • Rudolf says:

    Nice. Film­mak­er Mike Hool­boom also framed this video with a few inter­est­ing insights over @Ryeberg. nnn

  • Quite_the_Pundint says:

    The host’s name here is Michael Young.n

  • Yer Maw says:

    Because The Night was cowrit­ten by Spring­steen and Pat­ti Smith — she con­tributed the lyrics for the vers­es, I believe. It was­n’t a cov­er as implied above; Smith’s was the orig­i­nal ver­sion.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.