The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
Sire/Rough Trade, 1986
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
I've come to realize that I know not nearly enough about the Smiths as I should. Most of my education was spent with Louder than Bombs and Hatful of Hollow, which are technically singles compilations (although I tend to like Louder than Bombs more than any of the records on their own). From their four LPs I would pick and choose. The Queen is Dead is the one I picked and chose from the most, and the one I spent the most time with as an album proper. And I have no idea why this is. It's weird realizing this. Like, I've never even listened to Meat is Murder all the way through. HOW CAN THIS BE? I do not know! How, until now, have I not realized that “I Know it's Over” is a fucking amazing song? Was I expecting every song to either be a.) epic b.) funny or c.) both? I do not know. I think The Queen is Dead is the one I own and have spent the most time with because it has “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which might be my favorite Smiths song, and my favorite song to sing to girls. I'd initially shunned the Smith as a good, blindsided punk rock kid but once I got to college I felt like I was making up for lost time and it made me into the wimp I am today. To the point where I will write a line like: Morrissey is one of my favorite singers because not only does he have a wonderful voice, and not only do the words he sings sound good, but they read good too. Typically, you'll find yourself singing something profound and when you go to quote it somewhere it doesn't sound nearly as profound. 17 year old Ian would have scoffed, and probably called me a pussy. But “It's so easy to hate/ It takes guts to be gentle and kind” is one of my favorite lyrics of all time. There's something poetic about Morrissey's vocals without them having to try to be poetic. And he's got a dark sense of humor, which is my ultimate weakness in any sort of artform. And sometimes he's just goofy (“Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”). Etc etc. Someone told me that Morrissey does all the vocals on Smiths recordings because his ego is so big. So that weird high pitched background vocal in the chorus of “Bigmouth Strikes Again” is just Morrissey's voice pitchshifted, which I think is pretty funny. And I hate how Johnny Marr is always overlooked, and how I've overlooked him here, because the Smith's greatness is a 50/50 sort of thing. I really can't think of anyone else who plays guitar like him, you know? It's jangly and bright and adventurous, and it kind of ties everything together. The whole album is a combination of lightness and weight, and that's why it's great. And the songs are all total fucking jams. That too.
Here are a couple of shorts directed by Derek Jarman, and they are pretty fantastic.