Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My Top Ten Smiths Songs

When I kicked off this new blog, Kelloggsville set me an impossible challenge: my 10 favourite Smiths songs?

Hardest. Top. Ten. Ever.

How do you narrow that peerless oeuvre down to just ten tracks?

Well, I gave it my best shot... though I'll probably change my mind as soon as I've pressed "publish".

10. Panic

A song for Steve Wright... and DJs everywhere.

9. Jeane

It was a toss-up in the obscure b-side stakes between this and Sweet And Tender Hooligan. Yet Jeane has a rawness to it that never grows tired, and it's also the best kitchen-sink lyric Morrissey ever wrote / stole. Better than most of the debut album it was rejected from, criminally unavailable on CD until 2008. And let's not forget Billy's version...

8. I Know It's Over

If you're so funny
Then why are you on your own tonight?
And if you're so clever
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you're so very entertaining
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you're so very good-looking
Why do you sleep alone tonight?
I know...
'Cause tonight is just like any other night
That's why you're on your own tonight
With your triumphs and your charms
While they're in each other's arms...

7. Reel Around The Fountain

Morrissey at his most sexually mischievous. Slap me on the patio, indeed...

6. This Charming Man

An obvious choice, but it has an intro that would get me on the dancefloor at any indie disco... if I ever went to indie discos.

I would go out tonight
But I haven't got a stitch to wear

5. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Johnny at his most dramatic, Morrissey at his most pathetic (in the best sense of that word).

No hope, no harm
Just another false alarm

4. Rusholme Ruffians

Perhaps a surprise choice, but I love that Johnny stole the riff from '(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame', one of my favourite Elvis songs. And if the lyric doesn't take you back to the fairgrounds of your youth... you haven't lived.

3. Ask

Possibly the most positive, supportive, warmhearted song Moz ever wrote.

2. How Soon Is Now?

The guitar still sounds like nothing else ever recorded, a horror film soundtrack to the dark night of the teenage / twenty-something soul.

There's a club if you'd like to go
You could meet somebody
Who really loves you
So you go, and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry
And you want to die

If you've never been to that club, you probably don't get The Smiths at all.

1. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Although this was the hardest Top Ten I've ever compiled, the Number One was never in doubt. Ironically, it was John Peel who changed my opinion of The Smiths from "whinging miserablists" to "best band in the world ever". Sadly, this epiphany occurred a couple of years after the group had split. I could really have used them in my corner when I was 14... but maybe I just hadn't earned them yet, baby.

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die

OK, that was my impossible selection. Which of your favourites did I exclude?


  1. God, an impossible task, not least because 11-20 would be every bit as stunning as 1-10... but since you've mentioned Billy's version of Jeane, juat thought I'd mention another Billy version. here (not sure about the sax though).

    Think I might have squeezed Stop Me in my top ten, but as you suggest it's a list that'll change every time you make it.

    1. Yeah, Billy ought to do a Smiths covers album!

  2. Big Mouth Strikes Again and That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore.

    1. One of which could describe your own blog... the other, not at all. ;-)

    2. Very worryingly you're right.

  3. Never cared that much for Ask... the are some underrated gems I would put up there: Nowhere Fast, Accept Yourself, Paint a Vulgar Picture, Half a Person, I Won't Share You and That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore.

    Top place has to be There is a Light... such a strange blend of melancholia and defiance, and here's my favourite version, complete with Terry Christian in the audience and one of my favourite bits of Johnny Marr as he emulates the closing synthy sounds toward the end on guitar. Not that hard to play, but who else could compose it?

    1. Cool version - even though the TV show thought they were doing 'Panic'.

  4. I can't understand why I just cannot like The Smiths...I keep trying..

    1. Were it any other band, I'd probably tell you to give up if you haven't got them yet. But it took me long enough... sometimes you just have to wait for the epiphany.

    2. What?! Really?! You're our age aren't you? How did you not lie in a darkened bedroom believing Morrisey was the only person who understood you and that you would marry Johnny Marr one day. Well ok, not the last bit , but ....what?! Really?!

  5. I'm really impressed you took this on, and how hard because there is very little they did that can make me 'meh'.

    Shakespeare's Sister is one of my favourites though,, I like the way the tempo changes.

    I'm pleased you didn't put how soon is now at 1 because it's too obvious, but it does still stand out as a truly original sound.

    I saw them live in Leicester. I remember it all as clear as day, grabbing Morrisey's leg, watching him trip, the dirty look he gave me....ahhhh teenage bliss. No seriously, the whole concert was awesome.

    1. The Tripping Morrissey Police will be round to see you shortly.

  6. I broke into the palace, with a sponge and a rusty spanner. She said "I know you and you cannot sing..."

    1. I said, "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano."

  7. Missing, sorely - I Started Something I Couldn't Finish, The Queen IS Dead, Hand In Glove and Bigmouth Strikes Again

    Unexpected to see Jeane there, I love it but it is the song that just backs up everyone's claim of the misery that is The Smiths.

    I always thought Reel...was about Oscar Wilde, what with Moz's obsession. It is at times however, quite filthy

    1. You have a go! Ten is an impossible number.

  8. my knowledge of the Smiths doesn't really extend too far beyond one album (you know the album that would be) so I can't contribute too much here -but for some reason, on the standouts on that album for me is "Cemetery Gates".

    and I do like a good novelty song, so always enjoy Frankly Mr Shankly. I am waiting for the right moment for someone to annoy me so I can use "flatulent pain in the ass" as an insult.. its a great line!

    1. I obviously meet far more deserving candidates than you as I use that line weekly! ;-)


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