Battle of the Bands – Gloria (Van Morrison song)


It’s time for another Battle of the Bands and today I’m featuring the song “Gloria.” Give a listen to the two contenders and vote on which cover version you like better in the Comments section. I’ll post the results in 6 days.

About the song:

“Gloria” is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and originally recorded by Morrison’s band Them in 1964 and released as the B-side of “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. The song became a garage rock staple and a part of many rock bands’ repertoires. It is particularly memorable for its “G–L–O–R–I–A” chorus. It is easy to play, as a simple three-chord song, and thus is popular with those learning to play guitar. Here is the Van Morrison/Them version, for your enjoyment only. Don’t vote on this version.


Contender #1: Shadows of Knight

The Shadows of Knight (an American rock band from the Chicago suburbs, formed in the 1960s) single was released in December 1965 (later included in the album Gloria). It reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, topping the original in the U.S. only in areas where Them’s version could not be played, because it contained the words, “She comes to my room”. Some radio stations objected to this line, most notably Chicago’s WLS:

The band had slightly altered the song’s lyrics, replacing Morrison’s original “she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright” with “she called out my name, that made me feel alright” after influential Chicago station WLS had banned Them’s original version. This simple change overcame the prevalent AM radio censorship of the era and got The Shadows of Knight’s cover version of the song onto the playlist of WLS, which had censored the original. The single reached the No. 1 position on the radio station’s countdown, as well as on local rival WCFL.


Contender #2: Patti Smith

What a difference a decade makes! Patti Smith really took liberties with the lyrics and changed them up a whole lot! From her 1975 album Horses, “this version is based on the Morrison tune, but its lyrics are reinvented for the nascent punk rock movement, retaining only the chorus, and adding possibly ironic allusions to the sacred allusions of the title. It memorably begins, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins / But not mine”.” (Wikipedia)


TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

24 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands – Gloria (Van Morrison song)

  1. Hi, Michele!

    How times have changed! Isn’t it amazing how AM radio stations banned records in the mid 60s for being too suggestive? (Gangsta rap was still light years away.) By today’s standards those same recordings would be considered tame and innocent.

    This was an easy decision for me. The version of “Gloria” by Shadows of Knight has been one of my favorite records since 1966. It was a huge hit at the Shady Dell and the only version played there. It was also the only version I remember hearing on my local radio station. “Gloria” by SOK is a garage classic – a perfect AM radio nugget – two-and-a-half minutes in heaven. I like the SOK cover better than the version by Morrison and Them and much more than the strange remake by Patti Smith which is so different that it is almost unrecognizable. It certainly isn’t as much fun to listen to or as danceworthy as the SOK verson. In 2010, Shadows of Knight lead singer Jim Sohns left a comment on SDMM when he noticed the post I was running about “Gloria” and his band’s other hits. According to Wiki “On 20 August, 2016, The surviving members of the Shadows of Knight reunited and performed in concert for the first time in 49 years.” I cast my vote for Shadows of Knight.

    Thank you, dear friend Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How cool that Jim Sohns left a comment on your blog regarding your post! I bet that was a big thrill.
      I can see why you voted Shadows of Knight, their version being near and dear to your heart.
      Thanks for your vote Shady.


  2. I didn’t know the original version of Gloria was banned. It’s the only one I’m familiar with. Shadows of the Knight were clever to change the lyrics to get around that, but they sound like a pale copy. Patti certainly made it her own. It doesn’t appeal to me, though, probably because Them’s version is so engrained in my memory. Please give my vote to Shadows of the Knight. Interesting battle, Michele. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was living in the Chicagoland area when this song came out and WLS was my listening station of choice. I remember hearing the version by Them on that station on a Sunday evening as I listened to the radio while sitting on my bedroom floor. I don’t remember that version being banned, but the Shadows of Knight version is the one I started hearing on the radio after that Sunday night debut by Them. I didn’t realize that it was because of a ban due to song lyrics. I knew the Shadows were from Chicago and it wasn’t unusual for WLS to promote local bands in their cover versions, but I didn’t think anything much about that either. All I know it was a good song that I liked at the time.

    Shadows of Knight perform the song in the iconic style of Them–it’s a pretty faithful cover. I was never much of a Patti Smith fan and I don’t much like her version of this song–right from those opening revised lines.

    Smith’s version annoyed me. Give my vote to the memory band of my youth–Shadows of Knight.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so interesting that you remember Them’s debut version and then immediately after that started hearing Shadows of Knight’s version.
      I find it fascinating that the song was banned because of that one line…
      Thanks for your vote Lee.


  4. MICHELE, don’t hate me but… yeah, another SHADOWS OF KNIGHT voter here.

    I went through a Punk Rock phase as a teenager but it didn’t last long. Today, there is very little that’s considered Punk or even Proto-Punk that I care for. Eddie & The Hot Rods — yes. A couple Clash songs (like ‘Rocking The Casbah’) after they’d become a bit less Punk and a bit more mainstream. And one other song I’ll share with you in my next Email (which I really will write soon).

    For singers, I want someone who either has a really nice voice (Karen Carpenter, Johnny Mathis, Kenny Loggins, Bobby Darin) or has a very distinctive voice that appeals to me in some weird way (Satchmo, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, the Steely Dan singer, etc.) I’m afraid that, to my ears, Patti just has the “distinctively weird” part without the “appealing” part.

    ~ Deplorable D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll buy “distinctively weird” as that Patti Smith definitely is. I’m not surprised you’re voting Shadows of Knight (and I don’t hate you for it! 🙂 ) I didn’t expect many people to take to Patti Smith’s version…
      I was never much of a punk rocker either. I do love Rock the Casbah though…


  5. Shadows of the Knight for me. I couldn’t even make it half-way through that Patti Smith version. Not even the same song…..This is one of my favorite songs of the 60’s and that lady butchered it in my opinion!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michele, this is a great 60s classic. Patti Smith did make the song her own but in doing so changed it too much to suit me. It wasn’t until the end before she made it somewhat recognizable to the original. Shadows of Knight did a fabulous job replicating the original and ultimately getting my vote. Good battle and WOW what a difference between the two artists!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have always liked Patti Smith, and on this song, while her version is not my favorite PS track, I like what she does with it, where Shadows go a note-for-note cover.

    Vote for Patti Smith, and everyone go out and buy her album “Wave.”


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, another vote for Patti Smith! I love her version of this song. I’ve been a Patti Smith fan since her Horses album. What’s your favorite song from Wave? I LOVE Dancin’ Barefoot! I could play that song over and over. Revenge is pretty good too…
      Thanks for your vote Larry!


  8. I go for Shadows of Knight because Patti Smith was good at the beginning but then it went all freakish for me near the end. I Felt like it was nails on a blackboard and couldn’t wait for it to end. So, obviously, I go for Shadows of Knight


    • Hey Susan, you are definitely not too late to vote! I’ll put you down for Patti Smith. Original she certainly is! Thanks for coming by…


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