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The first time I heard…

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When watching Top of the Pops as a teenager amongst the shiny overly manufactured tripe you occasionally witnessed something spectacularly special.

One such occasion had four scruffy looking urchins, awkward looking singer , interesting yet imposing with his national health specs and massive quiff ripping open his shirt to reveal ‘Marry Me’ scrawlled across his chest in what looked like eyeliner and the guitarist looking as laid back and as cool as you like. I was smitten.

It wasn’t just visually they were different, musically they were pretty spectacular too. In a time when music in general focused on and indeed celebrated the inane, this band – The Smiths – were thoughtful, insightful and spoke straight to the heart and souls of any awkward tortured teen. They were extraordinary whilst being ordinary.

I loved the sound of the guitars, they were jangly, celebratory and ultimately uplifting. The lyrics were intelligent , humorous definitely tongue in cheek. The choice of words and certain turns of phrase made me smile and on more than one occasion laugh out loud ( some of us were LOL-ing years ago before it was even fashionable to LOL) so I’m constantly bemused that they are constantly given the ‘depressing’ tag. I can only presume that people that have labelled them such have just seen the song title ‘Girlfiend in a Coma’ and decided not to delve further.

The reality is if they’d listened to the self depreciating yet ultimately brilliantly comedic lyric ” She said “‘ere I know you and you cannot sing” , I said ” that’s nothing you should hear me play piano” on album title track ‘The Queen Is Dead’ they’d have been with me in laughing their socks off.

Still more than 25 years on, I still adore that lyric and that album and I’m still obsessed with Morrissey’s lyrics and Johnny’s celebratory guitars. Sometimes as a teenager you do make the occasional right decision.

Jackie Nutty

Editor
Editor of LLR since 2005

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