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19 June 2003 — Please Please Please (1)

In so very many ways I was a typical angst-filled teenager of the mid-1980s. I sulked and pouted, pierced my ears, shaved my head (but only half of it), wrote black poetry, etc. The angst-rock of the era was the soundtrack of my life: New Order, The Cure (their 1985 album, The Head on the Door, was a fixture in my tape deck), Tears For Fears.

I never bought all the way in, though: I didn't like The Smiths. I didn't hate The Smiths, but I couldn't understand why my fellow sulksters worshipped them. The Smiths took whininess and depression to depths that I couldn't fathom.

I liked one song by The Smiths. One song. (Presented in lower-case as a tribute to those angst-filled years...)

how soon is now
by the smiths

i am the son and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
i am the son and the heir
of nothing in particular

you shut your mouth
how can you say
i go about things the wrong way
i am human and i need to be loved
just like everybody else does

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

when you say it's gonna happen "now"
well, when exactly do you mean?
see i've already waited too long
and all my hope is gone

you shut your mouth
how can you say
i go about things the wrong way
i am human and i need to be loved
just like everybody else does

Admittedly, I liked the song a lot, but it was just one song.

During these adolescent years, there was only a portion of me which was riddled by angst. It was a large part of my personality, indeed, but the whole time that part of me stood permanently beneath a black cloud, other parts of me were loving live, building friendships that last til this day.

Gradually, the angst-rock which had been a central part of my life faded into something of an accent, something that I listened to only now and then.

For a time I was a DJ at KWU, the college radio station. I found one song in the heavy rotation bin that I loved to play: Morrisey's Every Day is Like Sunday. It took me a while to recollect that he was the lead singer for The Smiths.

every day is like sunday
by morrisey

trudging slowly over wet sand
back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
this is the coastal town
that they forgot to close down
armageddon - come armageddon!
come, armageddon! come!

every day is like sunday
every day is silent and grey

hide on the promenade
etch a postcard :
"how i dearly wish i was not here"
in the seaside town
that they forgot to bomb
come, come, come nuclear bomb

every day is like sunday
every day is silent and grey

trudging back over pebbles and sand
and a strange dust lands on your hands
(and on your face...)
(on your face ...)
(on your face ...)
(on your face ...)

every day is like Sunday
"win yourself a cheap tray"
share some greased tea with me
every day is silent and grey

Just as dark and depressing as always, but I loved it. And, a few years later, Morrisey produced this absolute gem:

the more you ignore me, the closer i get
by morrisey

the more you ignore me, the closer i get
you're wasting your time
the more you ignore me, the closer i get
you're wasting your time

i will be the in the bar with my head on the bar
i am now a central part of your mind's landscape
whether you care or do not
yeah, I've made up your mind

the more you ignore me, the closer i get
you're wasting your time
the more you ignore me, the closer i get
you're wasting your time

beware! i bear more grudges than lonely high court judges
when you sleep i will creep into your thoughts
like a bad debt that you can't pay
take the easy way and give in

yeah, and let me in
oh, let me in

it's war, it's war, it's war
it's war, it's war, war war war war

oh, let me in

As much as I like these three songs from Morrisey, I find that I prefer his music when it's covered by other artists. For example, both The Pretenders and 10,000 Maniacs have covered "Every Day is Like Sunday", and I find their versions superior to the original. More recently, the Russian lesbian duo (how strange does that sound?) t.A.T.u. have produced an outstanding cover of "How Soon is Now", a cover that even Morrisey likes. This version rocks. I love it. It's the most-played track on my iPod right now. Here's a funny snippet from an interview with Morrisey (pilfered from a great t.A.T.u. fan site:
Morissey, former singer of The Smiths, who originally wrote and performed the song "How Soon Is Now?" in 1984 had this to say about t.A.T.u. in the U.K.'s Word Magazine:

Word: Did you hear t.A.T.u.'s version of "How Soon Is Now?"
Morissey: Yes, it was magnificent. Absolutely. Again, I don't know much about them.
Word: They are teenage Russian lesbians.
Morissey: Well, aren't we all?

And a bit from The Beat magazine:
"Morrissey and myself were far more fanatical about the band than even the most fanatical Smiths' obsessive." says guitarist and founder of The Smiths, Johnny Marr with surprising enthusiasm of the finest British band of the past two decades. "We were our biggest fans and everything that the band was about we really loved. It was a really, really amazing time. It wasn't just kind of a bunch of young guys goofing around and the stuff that happened to us didn't happen by accident. It was borne out of complete passion and ridiculous intensity and that's why we sounded the way we did."
Unfortunately, I just couldn't identify with their complete passion and ridiculous intensity. I just wasn't that angst-filled.

Comments
On 19 June 2003 (08:32 AM), J.D. said:

Okay. Four songs. (How could I have forgotten this one, since my entry's title is taken from it?)

please please please let me get what i want
by the smiths

good times for a change
see, the luck i've had
can make a good man
turn bad

so please please please
let me, let me, let me
let me get what i want
this time

haven't had a dream in a long time
see, the life i've had
can make a good man bad
so for once in my life
let me get what i want

lord knows, it would be the first time
lord knows, it would be the first time
Four songs.


On 19 June 2003 (10:02 AM), Joelah said:

"Girlfriend in a coma" always gives me a chuckle.


On 19 June 2003 (12:15 PM), Dave said:

As does Mojo Nixon's cover of "Girlfriend in a Coma"


On 19 June 2003 (12:20 PM), Paul said:

I appreciate the smiths arrangements. The guitar by Johnny Marr was up beat and fun while Morisseys sweet voice oozed the angst you highlighted here. The cure on the other hand used their arrangements many times to highlight the dark emotions they were protraying through their music. In the end, synthpop was fun regardless of the lyrics and continues to brighten my day when it comes on.


On 19 June 2003 (12:44 PM), Dana said:

My favorite Cure song is one (if not the only) of their peppy songs, Friday I'm in Love. I'm generally not a fan of the angsty-er stuff from the 80s. I like quirky and upbeat more, like TMBG. Never really got into either the Smiths or Cure, although of course you couldn't really get away from them, either. I didn't really start being a consumer of music until College, though. Didn't listen to (or own) records or listen to the radio much till then.


On 19 June 2003 (03:14 PM), Rich said:

i know that it is physically possible to like both morrisey's "Every Day is Like Sunday" and 10,000 maniacs' cover of the song, but you have to admit it is difficult. natalie's singing is so light and happy that it almost mocks morrisey's angst, don't you think? i never took that cover as sincere.

speaking of cover songs - my favorite cover song of all time is prince's "raspberry beret" done by the hindu love gods (warren zevon singing with REM -- minus michael stipe -- playing the music). kicks ass.


On 19 June 2003 (03:21 PM), Dana said:

My favorite cover of all time is probably an obscure acapella group, Four Shadow, doing an acapella version of DMB's "Ants Marching". Very fun.


On 19 June 2003 (07:57 PM), Eryk said:

You were a teenager JD? Get out. =]


On 19 June 2003 (08:10 PM), dowingba said:

I'd like to know more about this half-shaven head phenomenon.


On 28 October 2003 (01:34 PM), Silver said:

oh man do i love Morrissey, The Smiths, and The Cure... its crazy how i like the same music as some of my teachers (who were teenagers in the 80s) ... i relate to the lyrics so much, and its crazy to know that morrissey old enough to be my father... haha. But its cool that their music is alive and well in todays teens


On 04 November 2003 (01:28 PM), Chris said:

In the 80's I preferred alternative rock because it was obviously more sincere than the manufactured pop listened to by my high school peers. I also loved the angst, the unexpected lyrics, the minor chords, and the unusual instrumental sounds (achieved electronically) and irregular rythmns with which these bands experimented. My ultimate favorites were the Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode and the Cure. I also loved a number of songs by Erasure, the Psychedelic Furs, U2, INXS and, of course, REM. I'm almost embarressed to admit this, but I still listen almost exclusively to New Order and the Smiths when I'm in my car without the kids. My husband hates the alternative music I loved. (He's a tad homophobic I'm afraid.) However, we both agree on Sting, Sarah McLaughlin, and Enya. This music takes me back to times when I felt I was on the cusp of greatness, when I thought I had so much potential. Perhaps I still listen to it because I cling to the idea that someday I'll continue where I left off and finally acheive my dreams. I'd bet that many people stubbornly cling to the music they loved in their teens and early 20's for similar reasons.


On 17 March 2004 (11:31 AM), Ben said:

I noticed that you like Dave Matthews acapella. You should check out mine.

www.pezshow.com/music.html


On 17 March 2004 (11:31 AM), Ben said:

I noticed that you like Dave Matthews acapella. You should check out mine.

www.pezshow.com/music.html



Comments
On 06 August 2006 (03:17 AM), Sophie said:

LOVE!! the smiths!! thank god 4 my friend joe who introuduced me 2 them!! sophie
xx