― Mary (Mary), Tuesday, 12 August 2003 23:47 (10 years ago) Permalink
― s1utsky (slutsky), Wednesday, 13 August 2003 00:39 (10 years ago) Permalink
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?
This may be part mythology, but according to both "The Severed Alliance" and "The Songs that Saved Your Life" Marr went and knocked on Morrissey's door to introduce himself because he was fascinated with the Leiber/Stoller story/ethos (which mentor and later manager Joe Moss introduced him to) and wanted to carry on in that tradition. Of course there was a go-between, Stephen Pomfret, who had been in a band with Morrissey called the Nosebleeds, who was at first allotted a space in the new band and then dismissed once his work was provided. Marr was five years younger than Morrissey, so they traveled in slightly different circles, though they had met once before, at a (Buzzcocks?) concert. Morrissey was also very interested in the great songwriting tradition, Brill, and especially 60s girl groups, and at their meeting Marr was sure to play up his interest in that area also. Marr later disdained Morrissey's girl pop covers as the worst things they'd ever done though. I think the thought was that, if they couldn't make it as a band (because they couldn't find the right other members), they could at least write songs for others. This is evidenced in their frequent pleas/campaign to Sandie Shaw to let them write a song for her. But it didn't seem to go much further than that.
When I played a Smiths bootleg that I had just picked up, Gareth said, "The Smiths sound like they're all playing a different song at the same time." I had never thought of it that was, but given their background it makes sense. Marr had a dilettante background, tons of different influences, but had been most recently in a funk band with Rourke called Freak Party. And Joyce came from a punk band. These influences had to be stifled to an extent to please Morrissey. Toward the end, Marr was even fed up with their "jangly" ethos. At the time Marr was working in at X clothes shop and meeting a lot of people, creating a lot of opportunities for himself. His previous bands hadn't worked out so he set off to find himself a lead singer. Morrissey was sitting at home collecting unemployment and writing fanzine type books about The New York Dolls and James Dean. In progress were books about 60s girl groups and "Exit Smiling," a book about underrated Hollywood movie stars. These latter were shelved once the Smiths began. Apparently the songwriting process worked like this: Marr, and later his producers, would work out the tune, and then Morrissey would add music. But it wasn't that simple, if Morrissey wasn't pleased, he would ask for the melody/mood to be more like "this" and Marr was left guessing at and then striving for what would please Morrissey. One song, apparently, "Draize Train," Morrissey regarded so lightly that he could never make lyrics for it, so this was left as an instrumental. As others have mentioned above, Morrissey's very unusual phrasing would have the band revising the tune even more.
Morrissey was also apparently jealous of any of Marr's relationships outside of their own. This led to first manager and Marr friend Joe Moss leaving the group, and seemed to affect their management throughout. Morrissey didn't trust anyone in control of his business, nor was he comfortable executing the decisions himself, as much as he was making them. This left Marr in the unfortunate position of doing all of Morrissey's dirty work. Morrissey did seem to have a very crafty business head: the deal he worked with Rough Trade was 50/50 (with only himself and Marr as beneficiaries of course. He was also apparently stingy in paying his roadies. The only way Joe Moss got paid after he left was from Marr's pocket. The Smiths were virtually unmanageable, and this may explain their haphazard single/record releases. Though Rough Trade must have something to do with this also. Certain songs that should have been released as singles never were, or were too late, as "How Soon is Now," and tons of single were thrown out to the public, and then collected on a compilation to the hold the fans over until the next proper album. I don't know if this is common in the UK? This may have also reflected Morrissey/Marr's reevaluation of the 45 as superior to the album and their belief in the themselves/desire to be foremost pop chartists. The band also had serious problems with their producers. Marr bonded heavily with John Porter, and the two of them got very into adding guitar upon guitar into the mix, which Morrissey wasn't very happy with. They were guitar geeks and spent tons of time in the studio messing around. Morrissey was a purist and wanted to tone down any technological influence, "Hand in Glove" was given it's clubby sound purely by distortion, a trick the band used to get around Morrissey's edicts. Morrissey preferred Stephen Street as a producer, who he later worked with at the beginning of his solo career, and I think Marr just learned how to be a producer himself to get around Morrissey's jealousy.
What I'm trying to get at is the all-consuming fear and loathing of women and heterosexual acts on that first record. Most explicit in "Pretty Girls Make Graves," but hinted in the squalid depiction of sexuality in "Miserable Lie" and pretty much all over the place
I think the loathing isn't specific to "heterosexual" acts, just sexual. The "Pretty Girls Make Graves" is another plundering--this time from Jack Kerouak's "Dharma Bums" and probably appropriated for its sense of futility and poetic drama rather than a specific misogyny. Morrissey was extremely "pro-feminist" as a youth -- he went to meet Patty Smith (through fanzine connections) wearing a button that said "Women's Liberation." He apparently also walked around Manchester with a button reading, "Lesbian Liberation," which could not have gone over well in those days. Morrissey was very influenced by the "Fourth Sex" regarding Jack Nichol's "Men's Liberation" as his Bible. Elizabeth Brownmiller's "Against Our Will" and similar pro-feminist books as Suzy mentioned above were also very influential. "He wanted to get beyond stereotypical male and female roles. I think "Miserable Lie" addresses the futility of relationships in general. The singer said a very interesting thing on the recent doc "Importance of Being Morrissey." This is just a paraphrase, but his interviewer asked him, "Would you ever consider living with somebody?" M.: "No, I can't imagine how that would even happen really." Interview: "Have you ever considered it?" M: "No, I don't think human beings are meant to live together. I don't think people get on really."
Side note: When Marr left the band, the Smiths asked Roddy Frame to replace him. He refused.
― Mary (Mary), Wednesday, 13 August 2003 02:27 (10 years ago) Permalink
It is the next logical step.
― Larcole (Nicole), Wednesday, 13 August 2003 02:36 (10 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 13 August 2003 03:01 (10 years ago) Permalink
― elwisty (elwisty), Saturday, 19 February 2005 19:06 (9 years ago) Permalink
― ailsa (ailsa), Monday, 28 March 2005 11:06 (9 years ago) Permalink
― JoB (JoB), Monday, 28 March 2005 11:34 (9 years ago) Permalink
"Yes, I'm THAT good."
(Actually, regular reader/sometime poster Melinda Mess-Injure is going to be presenting at this!)
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 28 March 2005 12:05 (9 years ago) Permalink
Yes they were a miracle.
I'm gonna have to kick your arses in a minute with Smiths talk. Just warning you.
― Get Unbanned (Bimble), Saturday, 7 February 2009 20:37 (5 years ago) Permalink
"The death of a disco dancer Well, it happens a lot 'round here And if you think Peace Is a common goal That goes to show How little you know
The death of a disco dancer Well, I'd rather not get involved I never talk to my neighbour I'd rather not get involved "
― bidfurd, Sunday, 8 February 2009 20:45 (5 years ago) Permalink
Just read this thread, really quite something, anyway there's a couple of question I would like to ask relating to the issues raised in this thread, there is talk of Morrissey and The Smith's "legacy". I was wondering how peoples view had changed taking into account his perhaps nostalgia based comeback and obviously Smiths / Moz indebted yet achingly conservative bands reclaiming the indie / NME world. There's a notion put forward here that provincial Britain as Moz understood no longer exists but these bands seem like a studied attempt to speak to / about provincial Britain in the way Moz did. Though The Libertines who I am thinking of her got derailed by their own myth pretty quickly without bring anything particularly interesting to the table. Whilst perhaps someone like The Streets does talk about provincial Britain in a way that doesn't reek of conservative nostalgia though of course it could be argued he is part of a very different tradition and a completely different vision of Britain. The lyrics of many You Are The Quarry songs suggest that Britain no longer exists for Morrissey as anything but memory and pastiche (Come Back To Camden, Irish Blood, English Heart)? But was it ever anything but that? This is reminding me of the thread on Bob Dylan if Dylan is the link between two eras is Morrissey a sort of link between two significantly different epochs of British cultural history, from mining to malls or something. From tin mines to Tescos? Corner shops to Co-Op?― elwisty (elwisty), Saturday, 19 February 2005 19:06 (3 years ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink
^so glad this guy stopped posting
― Limoncello Carlin (The stickman from the hilarious "xkcd" comics), Sunday, 8 February 2009 21:05 (5 years ago) Permalink
elwisty a villa fan by any chance?
― Henry Frog (Frogman Henry), Sunday, 8 February 2009 21:06 (5 years ago) Permalink
It's the other one, but I get them confused all the time as well tbh.
― Limoncello Carlin (The stickman from the hilarious "xkcd" comics), Sunday, 8 February 2009 21:11 (5 years ago) Permalink
the miracle of this thread. best ilm thread ever?
― alex in mainhattan, Sunday, 8 February 2009 21:41 (5 years ago) Permalink
One of those great old threads where I look through it years later hoping, "Man, I hope I didn't say something really stupid during this terrific discussion." And I didn't say anything at all, thankfully.
― Mark, Sunday, 8 February 2009 22:04 (5 years ago) Permalink
TBH I only recently started watching footage of early Smiths concerts. It is kind of incredible that this man was a pop star:
Not even like charmingly Michael Stipe-ish geekiness.
― Sundar, Sunday, 8 February 2009 22:09 (5 years ago) Permalink
(Like, speaking as someone who's pretty awkward and unco-ordinated but harbours no ambitions to pop stardom.)
― Sundar, Sunday, 8 February 2009 22:13 (5 years ago) Permalink
Just academic stardom.
― the pinefox, Monday, 9 February 2009 13:04 (5 years ago) Permalink
This thread was also amazingly self-renewing -- it had Nabisco, Dr C and Carmody writing great screeds early on, but years later the marvellous Mary could still pop up and write an even bigger one.
― the pinefox, Monday, 9 February 2009 13:09 (5 years ago) Permalink
I think elwisty got the return and ? keys on his computer confused.
― Ozman Bin Laden (Raw Patrick), Monday, 9 February 2009 13:15 (5 years ago) Permalink
― special guest stars mark bronson, Monday, 9 February 2009 13:33 (5 years ago) Permalink
lol you're a dick
― (The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 10 February 2009 00:11 (5 years ago) Permalink
Heads up -- from the folks who brought you the New Order/Joy Division Recycle blog:
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 14:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
― tylerw, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 15:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Un peu d'Eire, ça fait toujours Dublin (Michael White), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 15:46 (3 years ago) Permalink
― peacocks, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 16:19 (3 years ago) Permalink
― he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 18:14 (3 years ago) Permalink
Stoked for this.
― more lunacy and witchcraft! (kkvgz), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 18:22 (3 years ago) Permalink
Hope some fans pick up the idea and do this for The Cure too.
― brotherlovesdub, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 18:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
I know it's in bad taste to go "OMG this thread is so good!!!"
But yeah, OMG this thread is so good!!!
― FRESH MEAT (MFB), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 19:44 (3 years ago) Permalink
It is good! (today's stinking it up a bit, though)
― Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:03 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
it was my emoticon, wasn't it ... :(
― tylerw, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:08 (3 years ago) Permalink
Still no Smiths action figures...
― Born too beguiled (DavidM), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:13 (3 years ago) Permalink
Sorry Ned, now I feel bad.
― Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:21 (3 years ago) Permalink
shit just got real
― reallysmoothmusic (Jamie_ATP), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:56 (3 years ago) Permalink
actually wait a second, what is andy cairns from therapy and that guy from sum 41 doing in mozza's band?
― reallysmoothmusic (Jamie_ATP), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink
― seger ros (crüt), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 21:00 (3 years ago) Permalink
you know I looked at the name of that URL and still I thought it was going to be of action figures
― people are for loving (HI DERE), Tuesday, 10 August 2010 21:02 (3 years ago) Permalink
As for "having a car with *'only'* a tape deck"... jeez. That's what I call living in the World's Only Remaining Superpower.
I still think of this post, often, when driving
― Teddybears.SHTML (sic), Wednesday, 11 August 2010 00:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
in case you missed this:
Search and Destroy : New Order
― Bee OK, Friday, 27 August 2010 04:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
umm, i missed it, but that is one of the most amazing album covers i've ever seen. please let that be real.
― a dystopian society awaits if we continue on this path. (contenderizer), Friday, 27 August 2010 04:39 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett, Friday, 29 October 2010 14:49 (3 years ago) Permalink
Don't like the sound of Wnr Br0$ shutting their blog down. Surely they'd have bigger fish to fry.. ah well let's hope so.
Meanwhile there's a brilliant How To Buy The Smiths article right at the back of MOJO December issue which just came out in the uk. It goes for Hatful.. as the best album, as voted for by writers and members of MOJO forum. I concur!
― piscesx, Saturday, 30 October 2010 10:45 (3 years ago) Permalink
Heads up, folks. It's started:
― Ned Raggett, Sunday, 31 October 2010 12:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
didn't really 'get' the smiths until recently - this will be a good way back in. cheers!
― dayo, Sunday, 31 October 2010 12:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
i can see just from the first blog post that i'll be learning a few things here. and there was me fancying myself as some kind of Smiths expert! what was Brixton Ace i wonder? never heard of it before.
― piscesx, Sunday, 31 October 2010 19:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
this is going to be fun, those cover scans are incredible.
― ILB's biggest fanboy for the SF Giants (Bee OK), Monday, 1 November 2010 01:33 (3 years ago) Permalink
― piscesx, Monday, 1 November 2010 02:44 (3 years ago) Permalink