It would seem there's not a lot left to be written about The Smiths, and certainly nothing of note that this writer could add that would shed any light on just why they were so important.
So I've given my sixteen (YES SIXTEEN!) year old nephew Jack Haynes the chance to share with you exactly why he loves The Smiths even though he was born some seven years after they split.......
Those Charming Men
Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll…..Not always.
For some (or more like one) it was Celibacy and Veggies and College Rock.
Who else could I be talking about other than Morrissey, a man who defied the typical musician persona of the eighties to become more than a much loved artist, but more a musical genius. I was not around in the good old days when this man first started popping up on the screens of the nation sporting a huge fluffy quiff, wearing large women’s clothing, a hearing aid, and swinging a bunch of Chrysanthemums around in the air, but I reckon I could guess what people’s reactions were. They were either shaking their heads in disbelief or nodding them in approval and wondering why there had never been anybody like this before?
Only one other person should also receive such praise in this article, Johnny Marr. The man who seemed the only person capable of co-writing with Morrissey. Marr’s amazing riffs and chord progressions, laced with that distinctive wavy 'jingle-jangle' Byrds style effect, were the frames for which Morrissey could lay upon his forever original and inspirational lyrics. In my opinion, songs that sum up the way in which Marr thought about them and how to get the best sound from them would have to be;
Girl Afraid, Hand in Glove, How Soon is Now and not to forget the all time classic This Charming Man.
All of these songs, no matter how equally good any other Smiths track is, for me could pretty much give anyone an all round idea on what Marr’s musical range was and in my opinion it was massive.
I also have to mention the two band members that never quite got the praise and gratification they deserved, for no matter how much it seemed they were just session musicians, they were also responsible for piecing together some of the greatest songs ever written.
Mike Joyce, the man who tried to sue Morrissey and Marr for money that was theirs despite there being no contract to say otherwise, did provide the songs with just the right amount of rhythm. Banging away on the drums in The Queen is Dead, Joyce showed that he could provide a hard, heavy and fast paced beat that went a long way to making the song what it was. But he wasn't good for just banging away on the bongos; he could also give songs like 'Back to the Old House' a nice bit of rim tapping, to provide just the correct amount of rhythm without destroying the songs soft tempo.
Alongside Joyce was Andy Rourke. The bassist who managed to take 'Barbarism Begins At Home' with its funky riff and Morrissey induced barks and turn it in to something much more complex and sophisticated, with an incredible thundering bass line. The same thing could be said for pretty much any Smiths song, for this was not another bassist who would settle for playing the exact same thing as the guitarist, but a bassist who could write what seemed like his own song and play it over the top of the rest to make yet another great and perfectly crafted masterpiece.
During their five year career, The Smiths had released four studio albums and nineteen singles, which as more than a lot of bands ever dream of. But just like the music business almost always does, it started to tear them apart and they were to split in 1987. Fans were devastated and to this day, with there being no chance of a reunion, still are. But in 1992 they released their last charting single 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out'. Originally a much loved album track, this for me was the song that defined The Smiths in a four minute show of extravagance that still makes me smile, close my eyes and sing along until my hearts content every time I listen to it. It was the first Smith’s song I ever heard and I hope it will be the last song I ever hear whilst on my deathbed. The iconic opening followed by emotional verses, a powerful chorus finished off with an epic climax along with Morrissey, for once, beautifully singing the amazing and unique lyrics is just the best arrangement ever.
Even though The Smiths are dead, Morrissey’s amazing and creative solo career always has and always will fill people with so much joy and inspiration. So much so that I couldn't believe the reaction when at the end of a gig at Alexandra Palace, Morrissey threw his t-shirt into the audience and people went berserk. I did manage to come away with a tiny shred that night, but more importantly it just showed me how much he has affected peoples lives, which couldn't have ever been achieved without the other three Manchester lads who helped to start it all off for him, the four men that became of the most inspirational bands ever.
'With loves…' we loved them, 'with hates…', we hated to see them split up '…and passions just like mine.' Well it’s fair to say the passion for The Smiths will remain forever. So long live The Smiths and long live Morrissey; I hope he keeps providing us with inspirational music for years to come.
"I don’t mind how I’m remembered so long as they’re precious recollections. I don’t want to be remembered for being a silly, prancing, nonsensical village idiot. But I really do want to be remembered. I want some grain of immortality. I think it’s been deserved. It’s been earned" – Moz