The Miracle of the Smiths

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I just remember hearing "Bigmouth Strikes Again" because my friend brought it into 11th grade English class to play and thinking "What a goofy song," so I larfed. Didn't actually get anything by them until two years later, 1989, and never saw any videos or anything or TOTP appearances, and didn't grow up in England, so they just always were. And pretty good, too.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Lucky me, nobody would ever have beaten me up at school for what music I liked. This was also before high-school age kids got down with the concept of Euro = insult. The few sarky comments I got - always, always from metal-loving future gas pumpers and their girlfriends - were inevitably met with this sort of scenario:

(Suzy and Nellie are sitting in the hall in front of their opened lockers which are littered with artfully arranged pin-ups from British and Japanese music mags. They are clearly deep in conversation)

PASSING METALHEAD BOY does a double-take when he sees locker gallery full of Men Wearing Makeup. PMB: "What is that faggot shit?"

SUZY and NELLIE exchange glances. Each girl removes an empty shopping bag from their locker. NELLIE: "'scuse me?"

PMB: "I asked you what that faggot shit was."

NELLIE (offers bag to PMB): "Here, take this."

SUZY (offers second bag to PMB): "Here, take this."

PMB now has TWO BAGS. PMB is puzzled.

SUZY: "Now. Put both bags over your head, DUDE. Keep America beautiful, okay?"

...see, they didn't stand a chance so no real hassle. Mallrat girls who had 'hair' comments were encouraged to look five years into the future, where if they had not managed to reproduce with a football player, they might actually HAVE the haircut I was sporting that day. In the same future I would of course be having my hair cut where I would never have to look at their bad style ever ever again. Besides, there weren't enough of US to form an actual Breakfast Club-type subcult so we were very confusing for THEM.

suzy, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Robin sez : "Morrissey's solo career declined (held back, as I saw it, by long gap between first two proper solo albums causing loss of momentum..."

Not sure I agree. Sitting out Madchester was probably a wise move, but the single biggest cause of the decline HAS to be the fact that Kill Uncle was so spectacularly awful. Virtually EVERYTHING which was good about the Smiths had gone by now. (By the way, except for the singles, I really don't like Viva Hate either).

Somehow that knife-edge balance between camp, misery, humour, nostalgia and arrogance, which he kept throughout the Smiths career is out of whack much of the time. Too much or too little of any of these carefully-juggled elements resulted in nonsense like King Leer, Bengali in Platforms, Little Man What Now, Late Night Maudlin Street,Alsatian Cousin etc. Maybe the lay-off before Kill Uncle gave him too much time to think about how and what, rather than doing what came naturally in The Smiths. Working with hacks like Street, Langer and Nevin couldn't have helped much either.

Arthur makes a good point about a possible precendent in Orange Juice, and for the Postcard singles, it makes good sense. Simply Thrilled Honey and Blue Boy in particular have that odd structure and slightly distanced feel which marked out Hand In Glove. I sense that Collins was a much less complex character than Morrissey, and consequently less interesting. The post-Postcard era showed that he had nothing much to say.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Hold on - there seems to be an assumption developing re. M's attitude to provincial towns (which as said in past I find fascinating - the towns, I mean, not the attitude). I don't see it that way. I think he is just *listing* for PANORAMIC EFFECT: it's ALL ENGLAND APOCALYPSE.

I agree, pf. It's funny - I was thinking of posting a thread about Panic a while ago and thought better of it. What I was going to ask was 'what does this song MEAN?' Or more specifically, what do the chorus and verses have to do with one another? But then I decided it would make me look stupid. Of course I understand the connection, but it struck me as a perfect example of Morrissey's (Smiths era) approach to songwriting- so many self-contained lines/notebook fragments/twisted aphorisms that somehow end up constituting a lyric. If someone asked me what situation Morrissey was describing, or point he was making in a lot of Smiths songs I'd have no straightforward answer. He changed style a bit on Meat is Murder ('The Headmaster Ritual' is perhaps his best sustained direct, transparent song) but he never really lost his predilection (knack?) for opaque, ambiguous, cut and paste lyrics (torrents of words falling over themselves) until a little way into his solo career.

A thing that rarely gets mentioned: Mick Middles' book (yes, I know it's terrible) insists that when Morrissey & Marr started out, their plan was to become a songwriting team, not a band. Does anyone know if that's true?

Nick, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

I think PF's urge to put the strangeness down to such a simple synthesis is perhaps an oversimplification. But if we go along with it for the time being, then I think we have to agree with Arthur and Dr. C that Orange Juice pulled off *a* synthesis of similar elements some years before, if not precisely the same synthesis.

That begs the question what was different about the Smiths. I would tend to argue that, musically, they were *less* strange than early Orange Juice: a fuller sound, less angular and difficult, less scratchy. Which is to say, I suppose, that they were more palatable to a pop/rock mainstream. I recall very well hearing "What Difference Does It Make" and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" on Radio 1 on the bus to school. I can't imagine any of those first few OJ singles making it onto the breakfast show.

There's also clearly a big chunk of J. Rotten in the Morrissey persona: that ill, contrary outsider bit, handing down his crushing barbs with total disdain. I suppose you could argue that, musically, the Smiths were the first band in a musical generation to consider themselves nothing to do with punk (and punk as just a detail of history). They made themselves palatable to punk-obsessed likes of me by the Rotten-ness of SPM. Just a thought.

Tim, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

("the first band in a musical generation to consider themselves nothing to do with punk (and punk as just a detail of history)": tim you are once again forgetting IAN PAIGE and SECRET AFFAIR!!)

mark s, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

NEVER! Nor could I. Man, the Affair were all about punk rock and you know it.

Tim, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

I knew this thread would be long and wonky, just knew it.

btw, I saw the Smiths on their first US tour in NY... which one of you geeks is jealous? :)

Sean, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Would that be the Danceteria show on NYE '83?

If not, no need for jealousy here.

suzy, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

To hell with you both. But neither of you clowns has anything on my friend ML who went to England in 1979 and ended up seeing Joy Division. With OMD opening, when they had long hair and wore robes. Astounding!

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

I can see similarities with Orange Juice but I think the reason why they didn't sound as startlingly different as The Smiths is because Edwyn Collins was (at the time) one of those singers who sounded as though they listend to nothing but David Bowie. Who cast a long shadow over early 80's pop.

The one act who no ones mentioned is The Buzzcocks. If Morrissey has any antecedents it's surely Pete Shelley, slightly effette, vulnerable impassioned delivery, dry Northern sense of humour and a knack for a memorable phrase. It makes me think that all the talk of Moz is slightly misplaced and what made them sound so unique is not Moz but Johnny Marr.

Billy Dods, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

And you forgot about Devoto too.

suzy, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Robin C:

>>> For some reason (and I was actually thinking about this before I knew this thread existed!), I associate "Madchester Rave On" outselling "Ouija Board Ouija Board" five to one in Manchester HMV with the fall of Communism and the emergence of MTV Europe

Put that way, it sounds odd - but I think your overall generational point is valid.

>>> shortness of "Panic" / classicism [60s]

This is a fine point, which goes for other Smiths records too, of course.

>>> Peter Hitchens was, perhaps for the only time in his life, spot on when he said that traditions can be destroyed just as effectively when you leave the buildings there but chip away at the ideas and feelings that gave them meaning, as when you tear down the buildings themselves.

Hm... but was he 'wrong' at the same time as being 'right'? I hope so.

Dr C:

>>> but the single biggest cause of the decline HAS to be the fact that Kill Uncle was so spectacularly awful.

I agree - but Stevie T will tell you, I think, that it was 'Ouija Board' which summarized decline !

>>> (By the way, except for the singles, I really don't like Viva Hate either).

I do. I agree that a balance has been lost, but that record is close enough to the Smiths - close enough to the flow - to retain much of what what M had then, I think. (I still think it the best solo record.)

>>> Working with hacks like Street, Langer and Nevin couldn't have helped much either.

This is true. Actually there is a whole separate discussion to be had re. the influence of Langer & Winstanley on the records of Morrissey, Costello and... Lloyd Cole!!

D Nick: you are very, very on the money - loads of money!

>>> What I was going to ask was 'what does this song MEAN?' Or more specifically, what do the chorus and verses have to do with one another?

This was what preoccupied me after I'd left the thread yesterday. And I realized that I had let myself forget my original sense of the song. What happens in the song - let D Nick take up the point again -

>>> it struck me as a perfect example of Morrissey's (Smiths era) approach to songwriting- so many self-contained lines/notebook fragments/twisted aphorisms that somehow end up constituting a lyric... but he never really lost his predilection (knack?) for opaque, ambiguous, cut and paste lyrics (torrents of words falling over themselves) until a little way into his solo career.

This is terrific stuff - so basic, yet so little recognized (it often seems). Anyway: Panic seems to me to be a *yoking of 2 ideas*:

1. REVOLUTION IN THATCHER'S BRITAIN - it's happening all over, kids! The miners' strike may have failed, but look at this fantasy! Violence is the only answer to our rulers!...

2. WE DON'T LIKE DISCOS / DANCE MUSIC - extended to 'burn down' idea, this seems like the same idea as #1. But really it's a much narrower Morrisseyesque fantasy.

In yoking the two he left the impression that the whole song was really about #2 (which emerges halfway through); whereas really I feel that #1 (very 80s, very Red Wedge pushed to extreme, in a way) is the key, and drags #2 in its wake.

Corroboration of a sort: Steven Wells made Panic his 45 of the week (July 86) cos it was Politickal, like. (Nothing to do with anti-disco sentiment, which would have repulsed him.) Think about it (as annoying people say).

>>> A thing that rarely gets mentioned: Mick Middles' book (yes, I know it's terrible) insists that when Morrissey & Marr started out, their plan was to become a songwriting team, not a band. Does anyone know if that's true?

No... I don't even recall seeing it. Anyone else?

Hopkins:

>>> I think PF's urge to put the strangeness down to such a simple synthesis is perhaps an oversimplification.

Fine. You're probably right. I was only being 'heuristic', or something. There is still a point there. I am not convinced, I think, that OJ were into that *particular* synthesis.

In return, I think your post is perhaps tainted with (by?) your perpetual post-1983 antipathy to the Smiths. To me, OJ sound (yes) original and different in the way you say - but also less fun than the Smiths (perhaps cos so original and different).

Dods mentions Bowie - I wonder whether my whole fixation on 'strangeness' misses out the idea that Bowie had done all strangenesses before? But no, I think, not quite. (Strange Pop Bowie = other thread.)

the pinefox, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

No. Devoto jumped ship pretty quickly (only on Spiral Scratch i think?), so I think of them as Shelley's band rather than Shelley/Devoto.

Billy Dods, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Not to pull the discussion in a new direction, but -- is it universally agreed that Kill Uncle was no good? I always quite liked it -- as sort of the distillation of everything Mozzy. It's as far as he's ever gotten from simply trying to carry on from the Smiths, musically speaking...

Nitsuh, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Out of curiosity what did Rollins say?

What does it mean to live vicariously through the Smiths? That you fantasize about being a miserable closeted neurotic?

sundar subramanian, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Pinefox: your analysis of "Panic" *spot on* in that, like you, I think the "BURN DOWN THE DISCO" stuff is only the secondary theme of the song, just made to sound as though it was the central theme by the way it is presented and put over. Maybe if the song *had* been longer and more fully-explained, the "REVOLUTION" element might have been given the chance, so to speak, to sound more prominent?

When he made the comments I quoted, Hitchens was to me "wrong" because, on the whole, I don't think the traditions he cherishes were worth preserving, but also "right" because I thought he put his argument over very well *even though I disagreed with it*. Certainly, on a personal level, Hitchens is more interesting to me than any other journalist of the right, and there are some fundamental truths he has grasped about the anti-traditionalism (despite appearances) of Thatcherite policies, but I wonder how much of his interest to me is down to the endless amateur sociology *and* amateur psychology you can get out of the contrast between him and his brother.

Dr C: that's sort of what I meant to say about Kill Uncle, but it got lost along the way. It wasn't just the delay: all the singles off that album were just SO WEAK: you could not imagine any of them going Top 10 for one moment. I would concur utterly with what others have said about Morrissey losing his essential ambiguity at that time, and his lyrics becoming so much more boring and uninspiring (of thoughts, of possible meanings, of anything, really).

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Robin C:

>>> Maybe if the song *had* been longer and more fully-explained, the "REVOLUTION" element might have been given the chance, so to speak, to sound more prominent?

Yes, precisely. Also the disco stuff has been easier for people (journos, whoever) to seize on over the year - where the revolution doesn't really go anywhere. (Is this right?)

Always seemed significant to me that the 45 was released just after Queen is Dead LP: and - more so - that live, they would follow that title track with 'Panic', without a moment's break (cf Rank LP): ie. 'Panic' was an extension of the political analysis of the earlier song. OK, only a pop lyric / tune; not a terribly sophisticated analysis, and tending more to 'adolescent' espousals of rebellion vs the royals / hatred of the Tories than anything properly worked through. But still - not quite the same as the 'racism / anti-disco / reactionary' thing that has been insisted on again and again. Possibly.

>>> I wonder how much of his interest to me is down to the endless amateur sociology *and* amateur psychology you can get out of the contrast between him and his brother.

Sad situation. But CH is also odd and perverse: currently writing articles for Guardian attacking 'liberal twits' who question war / US foreign policy. He's bright and everything, but I think he slightly abuses his position by going for perversity and irritation of readership too much.

>>> It wasn't just the delay: all the singles off that album were just SO WEAK

'Our Frank' - yes. 'Sing Your Life'? Probably. But funnily enough (Nitsuh may back me up here), two non-45s are arguably the most compelling things here: 'Driving Your Girlfriend Home', and 'Mute Witness'. (Thanks to Stevie T for making party tape in June 1997 which brought latter track to my stunned attention in the middle of Covent Garden. Never since abandoned belief that track is grate, though I'm not entirely sure I've even *heard* it since.)

the pinefox, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Yes, Mute Witness is the only track off KI which is any good. Reminds me of Roxy Music in a way.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 26 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

My contribution to all this

Tom, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Fascinating thread. Another contradiction: Morrissey was the son of Irish immigrants (as was Marr) making all that nostalgia for lost England, + later flirtation with British nationalism, all the stranger.

stevo, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

lots to digest here, i shall have to print this off and read on the tube journey home and take it all in then. brilliant stuff here.

gareth, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

More coming soon : Devoto's role in all this. Suzy's comment set me thinking - I'm CONVINCED that Devoto-era Buzzcocks (or more correctly Buzzcocks-era Devoto) is an extremely rough precursor of some of the stuff Moz was up to. They knew each other too (via Linder?). Lots of clues in Times-up sleevenotes, which are at home so I'll be back later.

Also what was The Smith's legacy? Twee-core? C-86? (I think mainly not), Jarvis Cocker/Pulp?

Dr. C, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

I think Dr. C's right about Buzzcocks-era Devoto. But only really as regards lyrics, not in terms of melody or music. I stand by my comment regarding J. Rotten, too, but that's no contradiction). I do think the band's relationship with / musical break from punk is crucial, and the reading of "Panic" which various people seem to be reaching for above can be thought of as a punk story too: in the lyric you see a wave of unspecified panic crystallise into a musical battle, the fear and confusion of the initial verses collapses into the safety / sterility of a polemic reaching no further than the DJ booth.

Legacy? The Smiths were immensely popular amongst the people who would become the twee end of indie, and were a central inspiration for a generation of sensitive kids to form bands and write sensitive songs. You could argue whether that meant twee-core was the legacy of the Smiths either way. I think it's *a* legacy of the Smiths. Pulp another, without question I think.

I did love the Smiths very dearly once upon a time, but I balk at talk of them being a miracle. I can't remember thinking "that sounds like nothing I've ever heard" (except perhaps on first hearing "How Soon Is Now"). I can remember thinking that some of their records were unbearably exciting. (If this comment bears the 'taint' of my not being a raving Smiths enthusiast, PF, please feel free to ignore it).

Tim, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Doc Hopkins said:

>>> I do think the band's relationship with / musical break from punk is crucial

OK - I'll buy it, though I'm not sure I get it yet.

>>> and the reading of "Panic" which various people seem to be reaching for above can be thought of as a punk story too: in the lyric you see a wave of unspecified panic crystallise into a musical battle, the fear and confusion of the initial verses collapses into the safety / sterility of a polemic reaching no further than the DJ booth.

This is a fine argument.

Weird complicating Pulp fact = Pulp started before Smiths? - or sth absurd like that?

>>> I did love the Smiths very dearly once upon a time, but I balk at talk of them being a miracle.

I meant 'miracle' in a non-evaluative sense - which I know sounds oxymoronic. I'm sure you think that my attempt to be non-evaluative is 'tainted' by evaluation. Probably it is, and possibly you think that's OK (possibly inevitable) anyway. I don't mind balking at (talk of) miracles, but in pop terms I can't think of that many things that deserve the term better than this lot (but possibly nothing does), whether in evaluative or non-evaluative terms (assuming that either category exists).

>>> (If this comment bears the 'taint' of my not being a raving Smiths enthusiast, PF, please feel free to ignore it).

Oh, I did.

the pinefox, Thursday, 27 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Tim - Devoto/'Cocks - yes, not the music but not the lyrics either EXPLICITLY. To me the link is more of 'something behind Devoto's lyrics, SOMETHING pushing him to say the things he says' which runs through Morrissey too. The quote I was looking for from Devoto came in Feb 1977 when he left the Buzzcocks : "I don't like most of this new wave music. I don't like music. I don't like movements Despite all that, things still have to be said."

Also compare Devoto's famous "I am angry, I am ill, and I'm as ugly as sin" line from Magazine's "Song From Under the Floorboards" with Morrissey's later preoccupations with illness and ugliness.

I go for 'a major incident in pop history' to describe the imapct of The Smiths rather than any definition of 'miracle'. Yet, I'm still struggling to understand what of consequence, if anything, they left behind. Here's my best shot at asking the question - "What did the advent of Morrissey allow artists to now do (which no-one did before)?" 'Scuse the bad grammar.

Dr. C, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Quick and not fully-formed thought: that lyrically, Morrissey does a version of Devoto with the illness / ugliness / outsiderness intact but with HD's (explicit) anger supplanted by shyness? Would that make the Morrissey character more sympathetic than the spikier Devoto character, and hence a likelier target for wider indentification?

Tim, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Pulp influenced by the Smiths?Jarvis wouldn't hear of it.Pulp's first releases coincided with Smiths' first album - Smiths get glory and since then Jarvis has never spoken very kindly of the Smiths.I put the brevity of 45s like Panic down to a focus on lyrics as opposed to musicianship - when they run out of words,the song is over.I don't know how anti-musicianship Morrissey was though.Listening to a song like Shoplifters Of The World Unite there is more of a conflict - contrast the lyrical side of group with the very rawk guitar break.

Damian, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Tim - yes, exactly. "Shy" is one of the ingredients which Morrissey brought in which had hardly been seen in rock/pop. A shy performer is a contradiction in terms.

Dr. C, Friday, 28 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Tim H's idea is good.

Doc C says, what did M leave behind? - etc. It's a very good question - BUT, can't a band / artist / whatever (in any medium) be 'great' and still NOT have a great influence? (cf, as always, Eliot's review of Ulysses, on this point.)

My feeling is that he made possible a more conversational style - he opened the door to new kinds of verbal awkwardness. But that is not meant to imply that there was no conversation or awkwardness pre-M.

Damian - I agree re. the chronology, but not re. musicianship. Marr was very much a 'musician' - not just a three-chord hack. There is always a sense, I think, of him 'doing what's right for the record'. You may have a point re. lyric-determines-length-of-track - but then, what about all those records where that doesn't apply? = That Joke / HSIN? / Queen Is Dead etc. I don't know - your argument is good, but I think Marr *could* easily have gone on and played fabulous 5-minute outros - *and I wish he had...*

the pinefox, Saturday, 29 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

I have finally read Ewing's piece on this - so compact, yet so brimming with ideas, and so regularly sound in its subtle judgments; terrific.

the pinefox, Saturday, 29 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

pinefox - it's an argument that applies better to many of the singles,really - that Marr was very much a musician is not in any doubt.

Damian, Sunday, 30 September 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

When "panic" came out i was a d.j. I host a show in the national italian radio, and sometime I played records in some little club in Rome. But I was a devoted fan of the Smiths, also, and in the strange position of listening this song from a double point of wiew. As a devoted fan of the Smiths I loved from the first time the verse about the "music that says nothing about my life". Yes, there's a revolutionary quality in a song like "Panic", and it will last forever. But there's also a shadow of sadness, the sense of change of an era: "my life" sung by Morrisey was not "our life", nor "our times" anymore. Morrissey sang for people that stand alone and sad in a dark sofa of a bad disco wanting to be million light years away from there, for people that can listen only to crap radio into their cars, for people alone and probably sad and angry maybe. But were they the same people that sing the "racist" chorus "Hang the dj", like hooligan in a football stadium? I don't know. I hope not. My answer, back then , was simple: I had to save that d.j.! (I agreed with Paolo Hewitt, but his piece on NME was a shock for me). I put Smiths records on the shelf and began to listen and play mainly black music, and than house, acid house, jungle... a revolution was began, and was made by people tired of listen "my" music into "my" room. From now on it would be "our" music, outside, rave music... Ok, it was many years ago from now, and I can just say that the struggle between individual and collective values into pop music is not come to an end. If "Panic" said something about the changing moods in my life almost 15 years ago, I cant say "Hang Morrisey" back than nor now.

alberto piccinini, Wednesday, 3 October 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

"Morrissey sang for people that stand alone and sad in a dark sofa of a bad disco wanting to be million light years away from there..."

Is that YOU over there in the gloom, Pinefox?

Dr. C, Wednesday, 3 October 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

No. To be honest I didn't quite understand that last post, though I think its intentions were good.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 October 2001 00:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
a section of "Panic" everyone seems to forget is (IIRC) "hopes may rise in the Grasmere / but honey pie you're not safe here / so you run down to the safety of the town / but there's panic on the streets ..."

it's presumably a glancing sideways allusion to William Wordsworth, and it says a lot about the culture Morrissey came from: romantic fantasies of pre-industrial Britain, while superficially appealing, ultimately unsettle him as much as the erosion of the Industrial Revolution legacy and its replacement by rootless consumerism, because both present a vision of a parallel universe in which the culture he came from would never have existed (Manchester is often cited as "the first industrial city" and it was certainly an irrelevant backwater before the flight from the land enabled it to rapidly become an economic powerhouse). visions of the pre-industrial world erode and threaten Morrissey's urban-socialist-collectivist past, and the creation of a deunionised Manchester where Janet Jackson is a more important cultural figure than J.B. Priestley (the mortal fear which drives the main narrative to "Panic") presents the clear message of NO FUTURE. it's as if, amid bleak premonitions of his future, he's dismissing a possible solace because of the threat it poses to his pride in his past.

why don't people focus on that line in particular? it's pretty much the epitome of a deeply conservative Old Labour mindset, as though he sort of wants to find solace in an unchanging, utopian, monocultural vision of the countryside as a place to escape his hated deindustrialisation and decollectivisation and consumerisation and all-pervasive cultural hybridisation in the erstwhile socialist heartlands from whence he came, but that very Old Labour tribalism stops him (all the neo-ruralists in the last 35 years of pop culture came from pretty middle-class backgrounds AFAIK, and I find it very hard to imagine Fairport Convention coming even from the more salubrious parts of Greater Manchester, the equivalent suburbs to the Wimbledons and Muswell Hills from whence they actually came. as for such a band coming from Sheffield or Newcastle? utterly unthinkable, certainly in that generation, before the Industrial Revolution legacy crumbled and the new pick-and-mix rootlessness set in.)

robin carmody (robin carmody), Wednesday, 11 December 2002 21:11 (11 years ago) Permalink

and what would be the ULTIMATE anti-"Panic"?

a few contenders:

Wham!, "Bad Boys"

Bros, "When Will I Be Famous"

Happy Mondays, "Step On" (also Mancunian of course so probably the most obvious)

The Brotherhood, "Punk Funk"

Clipse, "Grindin'" (Westwood: "CHEETHAM HILL MASSIVE!!!")

robin carmody (robin carmody), Wednesday, 11 December 2002 21:34 (11 years ago) Permalink

God this was a good thread.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 12 December 2002 11:10 (11 years ago) Permalink

But it's still going, Doc!

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Thursday, 12 December 2002 12:00 (11 years ago) Permalink

No it's stopped now - Robin mentioned Fairport Convention ;)

Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 12 December 2002 13:11 (11 years ago) Permalink


Cheers, Doc. Good stuff, Robin. I am touched to see people reviving old pinefox threads.

the pinefox, Thursday, 12 December 2002 14:40 (11 years ago) Permalink

I appreciate your joke, Doc. That does tend to happen, doesn't it :)? To be honest, though, my Fairport reference was more incidental than anything else: their cultural territory would have been closed off to an Old Labour purist like Morrissey. My mum is more of a socialist than I am, and grew up when old-school socialism still made cultural sense, but she's lived in places like Chipping Norton and Kidderminster, so she never went *that* way.

"Panic" is a *weird* record, isn't it? Bloody weird, to be honest. Bizarrely, its emotional extremity and call-to-arms reminds me now of Eminem's "Lose Yourself", but ***from the opposite starting point***. It's almost an anti-pop pop record, in that it's an explicit refusal of the cultural exchanges that were already, by 1986, forming 90% of the Top 40. In fact, it's probably the best possible candidate for Tom's "Berlin WHAT?" thread, not in terms of actual reference points per se, just the ethos that formed it.

I recently said (not on here IIRC) that Wham!'s "I'm Your Man" was to Thatcherism what something like Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" was to romantic Toryism: the epitome of the ethos expressed in music. If pure Thatcherism said "fuck you, High Tories *and* puritan socialists" ... well, it was revulsion at hearing "I'm Your Man" in a thoroughly inappropriate context which inspired "Panic" in the first place, so I always imagine Prince Charles hearing Diana playing it and getting TOTALLY PISSED OFF (remember his expression when she dragged him along to see Michael Jackson at Wembley in 1988? something like that).

I'm waffling, aren't I? But "I'm Your Man" and "Panic" = the Thatcher and Scargill of pop, surely, the radical of the right and the desperate nostalgic dreamer of the left.

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 12 December 2002 15:47 (11 years ago) Permalink

Wow - classic OLD SKOOL ILM. It's like May 2001 all over again!!

Hey Pine! Are you going to the ILX Christmas thing?

Dr. C (Dr. C), Thursday, 12 December 2002 16:04 (11 years ago) Permalink

that's a high compliment, Doc.

God ... I loved that period of ILM, even if it went over certain heads :).

oh, and Gareth to thread!

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 12 December 2002 16:07 (11 years ago) Permalink

Doc - don't know about the xmas thing. May 2001: I can only chuckle.

Robin C: can't seem to remember what heads you mean - not that I expect you to mention them by name.

the pinefox, Thursday, 12 December 2002 16:54 (11 years ago) Permalink

of course not, Reynard - I'm far too polite for that :).

robin carmody (robin carmody), Thursday, 12 December 2002 18:02 (11 years ago) Permalink

8 months pass...
Snakes alive.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 12 August 2003 20:10 (11 years ago) Permalink

dear lord!

nnnh oh oh nnnh nnnh oh (James Blount), Tuesday, 12 August 2003 20:15 (11 years ago) Permalink

GOD I LOVE THIS SERIES.

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 12 August 2003 20:16 (11 years ago) Permalink

I thought I had already ordered this but it doesn't seem to be on my Amazon order page. Maybe I didn't go through with it.

Mary (Mary), Tuesday, 12 August 2003 23:47 (11 years ago) Permalink

no Golden Lights?

mahb, Wednesday, 19 February 2014 20:12 (6 months ago) Permalink

Wow :-/

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Wednesday, 19 February 2014 20:22 (6 months ago) Permalink

My other half works back catalogue at Warner Music, I'll ask her if she knows anything about it when she gets home.

MaresNest, Wednesday, 19 February 2014 20:50 (6 months ago) Permalink

somehow i can't look at morrissey without thinking of kramer from seinfeld

Poliopolice, Wednesday, 19 February 2014 20:59 (6 months ago) Permalink

UPDATE Feb. 18:
As noted by several people in the comments, the release is an early April Fools' Day joke.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Legacy Reissues (via PJLM) started by Ryan. View original post
http://www.morrissey-solo.com/content/1665-The-Smiths-And-Morrissey-Legacy-Reissue-Series-(April-2014-via-Passions-Just-Like-Mine)

Eyeball Kicks, Wednesday, 19 February 2014 21:03 (6 months ago) Permalink

comedy genius!

Isaiah "Ice" McAdams (cajunsunday), Wednesday, 19 February 2014 21:05 (6 months ago) Permalink


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