THE SMITHS: The Queen Is Dead.

16 06 2016

 

smiths-outside-salford-la-002

“Frankly, Mr Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck,
I’ve got the 21st century breathing down my neck.”

There are some records after one listen stick with you for the rest of your life. These are the records that become your life, save your life, ARE your life. The records you turn to when there isn’t a soul around. A certain is your crutch, and whenever you hear it a bout of strength comes over you. Feelings come in waves, in odd numbers, in even numbers, on a Tuesday afternoon when gazing out of a 4th floor window. It hits you when you start to forget who you are, what you are and how tough you are.

1986. The year of many great records. And for better or for worse, the year I entered the world 6 weeks before my due date. Quite possibly the only time I’ve ever been early. Prior to my birth several months before, The Smiths released the wonderful (and equally wonderfully titled) The Queen Is Dead. Their highly influential third record. Many fans of the band do regard this as their best work, and you really cannot find any faults within this record. Everything about it is remarkable and ahead of its time. The lyrics show Morrissey at his best (whilst in The Smiths) and are full of words that will make you smirk, laugh, cry, think- anything and everything.

Of course I’ve been one of those who leaned on I Know It’s Over when I first had my heart torn out. I found so much comfort in this song, and having your heart broken is a very isolated feeling- which is why music is such a vital part of the healing process. This song just has this honesty to it that shows what it is like to be part of something that is no longer there, but you cling to it. Every word is brutally open and I think it might be one of the easiest songs in the world to relate to. There are so many lines in this song  make you feel weak at the knees because of how they hit you in the gut. “It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Easily one of my favourite lyrics of all time. It’s also one I want tattooed on me. In time, I probably will.

Then you have the genius and wit in songs like The Queen Is Dead and Frankly, Mr Shankly. The Queen Is Dead has so much humour, and one line that really shows this is: “She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing” I said: “that’s nothing – you should hear me play piano.” As someone who cannot sing nor play piano, I can identify with this. I also haven’t broken into the Palace with a sponge and rusty spanner.

Bigmouth Strikes Again is also another that shows how brilliant Morrissey’s songwriting was then (and obviously still is.) And I do suppose it is one of those you can play, and think of someone who gets on your last nerve, but you wouldn’t wish any harm upon them. Aside from the humour, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side shows this captivating sensitivity within Morrissey’s words, and the way he sings it is with such care, longing and slight caution. I just think the last part of the song, “And when you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go?” This is line that I remember floating in my head every single time I tried to leave home but it didn’t quite work out. As luck would have it, today is exactly 3 years since I left home for good. I’ve had some great times, some really awful times but I’ve made some brilliant friends in doing so. I wouldn’t change a thing, well maybe one or two. Or three. Everything happens because it must, and it works out- for the most part.

I can’t talk about this record without mentioning of their most famous songs and one of the greatest songs of all time. I’m a HUGE fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, and sometimes I feel like a lesser fan by claiming There Is A Light That Never Goes Out as my favourite song. But hear me out, if you can tolerate any more of my words. There Is A Light was a song I used to play on repeat in my room most evenings, before I went to sleep and when I woke up as I had to face the torment of secondary school. The words embodied escaping. The only way I could escape was through songs. Through Morrissey’s words. Through his words I found a world that made me feel okay with being out of place, a misfit, an outsider. His words were and still are everything to me. We always need someone on our side, and he’s on mine. I’m on his. This song for me just embodies hope. For those who claim he’s miserable, I urge them to play The Queen Is Dead- take the words in. There are songs there to make you laugh. His humour is something else. Especially on this record.

For me, I know that without this record a lot of bands I love would not have ever formed. The influence that The Queen Is Dead has on so many bands, even 30 years on is just astonishing and beautiful to see, and hear. I can’t imagine my life without this record. I don’t know what I would have and would do without it. It’s got everything you’d need from a best friend in it- it feels like home. I know I’ve mainly touched on Morrissey’s lyrics here, but for me lyrics are everything. I know how brilliant this record and how they all created something truly inspiring on it. I know how important each note played and how each word sung is on this record. I know. I know. A band/singer will always find you when you are lost, for me it is obvious it was The Smiths/Morrissey. I’m going to be the same age as one of my favourite records soon. Suddenly hitting 30 doesn’t seem so bad.

I never do this, but I’ve written this for my mum. The person who is responsible for my love for The Smiths, Morrissey and music. The person who I love more than anything in the world and the person who, when I grow up- I hope I’m just like. The only person I’ll go to a Morrissey show with. There’s something quite special about watching your hero on stage whilst hugging your heroine next to you, at the same time. I love you, and thank you for everything. You’re my light that never goes out x

 





The Smiths-The Smiths.

20 02 2012

“Reel around the fountain. Slap me on the patio, I’ll take it now…”

Manchester, Manchester- you beautiful city. Look at what you have given us. John Cooper Clarke, The Fall and of course The Smiths. On a damp and dreary (I’m going to assume it was, I was born just under 3 years later) an album by one of the world’s most influential bands was released. A debut record is a record critics will thrive off picking about and throwing away. That didn’t happen with The Smiths debut first record. If I have it in me, I’m going to attempt to put my all into writing this. Expect sentences that ooze frustration because I cannot say what I want to say. I’d like to mention I am writing this drinking tea out of a Morrissey mug.

I want to delve right into the very core of the album’s opening track, and one of my favourite songs by the band EVER. I want to go into detail about how gloriously sexually charged the lyrics are. Thing is, Morrissey’s lyrics have always had this wonderfully subtle sexual connotations that click with certain kinds of people. The shy ones, like myself who lack charm and anything to offer another (Moz has the charm, we all know that.) The Smiths made the outsider feel part of something. They made you feel as if you had found a home, a safety haven. All your desires and longing came true in this band. They also voiced them because you couldn’t do it. Can you do it now? I know I can’t. If only it was okay to say to someone you liked, “I like you but I cannot sum it up..so listen to this song by The Smiths.” Reel Around The Fountain has a verse that I just adore. It makes me want to cuddle that young, shy Morrissey and say, “It’s okay lad, you’re better than everyone anyway.”

“I dreamt about you last night. And I fell out of bed twice.  You can pin and mount me like a butterfly.  But “take me to the haven of your bed.” Was something that you never said.”

I, like most fans of the band can relate to nearly EVERY lyric and this is just utterly divine and accurate. Moz says the things I seem to have on the tip of my tongue, no exceptions.

Not a band to shy away from negative criticism from the press and anyone in-between, The Smiths felt the brunt of their open music when Suffer Little Children was placed as the B-Side to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. I love The Smiths more than I can put into words, but this one song that I’ve only listened to..not even a handful of times. It is far too painful and to the core. Personally, I don’t find it distasteful so for certain shops to pull the record from the shelves was too much. If anything, it was a tribute to the victims of one of the most horrendous and brutal crimes ever committed. It was also one of the first songs that Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote together.

You really do not need someone like myself to tell you just how important this record is. From the lyrics to the music to the excellent production that is present on this record. Anything and everything The Smiths ever did was nothing short of perfection. Even the imperfections and glitches were beautiful. Sometimes I am asked “The Smiths or Morrissey?” And, I usually do say Morrissey for many many reasons. I guess I can relate more to his solo work, but this debut record is just one of the greatest records ever made. Of course being released through Rough Trade wasn’t a bad thing either.

The debut record is exquisitely honest and vulnerable. Morrissey just pours out all the frustrations you can possibly handle. 28 years on since its release, and it undoubtedly still is as important and apt as ever.

I cannot write this in a way that reads as something critical. I’m just throwing these words out as a fan, that’s all I can do. The first song I remember hearing by The Smiths was Hand In Glove. I just loved the sounds I was hearing, I was far too young to understand the lyrics but as I hit my teens..I paid full attention to the lyrics. The Smiths and Morrissey didn’t only just put out music that saved my life, they BECAME my life.

It angers me when people say “Oh they HAVE to get back together.” They don’t. They really bloody don’t. When a band splits, that should be it. It’s like getting back with an ex isn’t it? Royally pointless and a dumb thing to do. The Smiths will always be one of the most influential and best bands ever. The music and the memories we have are more than enough. It all started 28 years ago today with this record. I’ve loved them for so long, and I couldn’t imagine my life and record collection without them. It’d be awful and dull (both my life and music.)

Listening to this record again, to write this- there is always one line that has forever stuck out for me. A line that I constantly have flailing around my heads causing me to probably overthink :

“Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno…”

It has been many many years since I first heard this record, and I am still trying to work out what rules what. Maybe it is just safer to say that the heart rules everything, but at the same time probably cocks everything up. There is a song on this record for every point in one’s life. Miserable Lie will help you get our something or someone. Hand In Glove will help with acceptance. What Difference Does It Make will help you see that people are sometimes, not worth the hassle. Reel Around The Fountain will make you pine for that person you cannot get out of your head. It described life for so many 28 years ago, and it still does the same now.

It is obvious just how vital this record is, and what it for music. Time may drag and drain us all, but with records like this, it makes the whole process less painful.