Thursday, May 13, 2010

Worth Another Listen - The Smiths

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce

In 1982, a band came together in the town of Manchester, England, that helped change the musical landscape in the 80s. The final line up of Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce were together only until 1987, yet The Smiths' alternative sound and style took the 50s/60s hipster feel to a new level, with Morrissey in particular adding a Kerouac-on-steroids aspect hard to miss. The band combined near-record levels of melancholia with rock beats and became darlings of the college campuses, building up a strong fanbase that rose to almost cult levels. To many, both the band and Morrissey became a God.

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce

I figured it was about time I tackled The Smiths, as I have wanted to for some time, yet never figured out how I was going to do it. So I decided I would just compile a list of some of my favorites, combine it with some of my sister Kim's favorites, and see what I could find on YouTube to make it happen. I ended up with a list of seven songs, and decided to offer up a 2-part series, tonight and tomorrow night. Enjoy my attempt at remembering The Smiths.

the smiths,morrissey,johnny marr,andy rourke,mike joyce

In 1983, there were two singles before the release of the first album. The second was This Charming Man, which later became part of the eponymous debut album release. I look at this video, and I can't help but notice how young Morrissey looks! And I really like the song.

Hatful of Hollow was released in 1984, a compilation of various live performances, interviews, and some studio singles. This included Handsome Devil, part of a Peel Session recordings.

In 1984, The Smiths released a couple of non=album singles, the first of which was Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. In typical Smiths/Morrissey fashion, it was a dark message of the miserable life of the working class, brightened by Marr's interesting and amazing guitar work. In the following clip, you see some old live footage of the band, and Morrissey's easy sensuality on the stage.

In 1985, the band release Meat Is Murder, stepping up the rhetoric a bit, being more politically charged than the debut. I Want The One I Can't Have could be found on the album, and it amuses me to no end. This song has been analyzed to no end, as Morrissey has been evasive at time about his own sexuality. There have been times he claims to be asexual, absent of a sexual bent in his life, and other times when he has claimed to fit the description of hetero, homo, and bi-sexuality. But the sound is classic Smiths, and the emotions - the haunting feeling of deprivation - certainly come to the forefront.


  1. I am one of those 'Morrissey sings my life' people. In my journal you are apt to see a Smith/Moz reference if your are careful.

    'This Charming Man' was a song that as a freshman in high school that I immediately identified with. The awkwardness of high school along with not being able to get into urban music made me feel quite like a square peg in a round hole. Always having to deal with questions about 'my blackness' along with whether or not I would ever have a girlfriend, listening to 'This Charming Man', I pictured myself as the confused young man trying to find himself.

    While I heard the sexual undertones in the song, I listened to the wanting of a heart denied. I didn't care what other people said the song was about... I only knew that I loved the song, the band, and of course, Morrissey.

  2. He sounds so tortured and beautiful. But then again, it's Morrissey.

  3. I am a massive Smiths fan and was wondering when you were going to come around with The Smiths.

    What can I say here - they were one of the most influential bands in rock history - the melancholy and unmistakable voice of Morrissey and the unique and distinctive and creative sounds of Johnny Marr - has made this band timeless.

    Their songs are some of the most catchy and beautiful pop love songs ever written with a twist of their own dark delusional beauty.

    I saw Morrissey live almost twice - in beautiful gay SFO - lots of gay couples there and then again in Orlando (well OK the show got cancelled).

    If you get a chance - see link to post I did on Morrissey

  4. Seeing The Smiths live and the start of their well known bit was a very special treat, a true musical experience.

    This charming man is a great song, but, I also love 'Girlfriend in a coma'

    Thanks for taking me on a trip to the past. You're a true master!

  5. Big Mark, Wonder Man, SteveA,Jason, thanks for stopping by. I do love The Smiths & Morrisse!

    SteveA, I did stop by there - and others should too

    Jason - Look for Girlfriend tonight!



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