In this article I hope to take on some questions of meaning in a rock vocal performance, examining Patti Smith's reworked version of Van Morrison's garage band standard ‘Gloria’. By looking particularly at Smith's textual accretions and timbral manipulation, I will demonstrate some of the ways that her performance can be thought of as an intertextual, critical recasting of Morrison's tale of male sexual conquest. Smith's ‘Gloria’ differs from Morrison's not only in its altered lyric text, but also in a number of musical details which include harmonic structure, melodic range and form. In this article, though, I devote the most attention to Smith's timbral manipulation, especially the ways that she alters her pronunciation of words for expressive ends. In order to examine this in detail, I have developed a system of notation that tracks Smith's sung vowel sounds alongside her use of pitch. Some of the sonic details so revealed will be used to construct a meta-narrative of Smith's ‘Gloria’ performance.