"I'm sick of your tattoos, and the way you always criticize the Smiths and Morrissey." - Brand New
In light of Morrissey's 2019 tour announcement with Interpol and The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr's 2019 tour approaching, I figured this would be the perfect time to sit and write this. PSA: You can blame this article on wine if you'd like.
I got to thinking the other day as I was cleaning my house and listening to "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", why the hell do people give Morrissey and The Smiths so much shit? Sure, he can be a bit of a prick sometimes, known for his heavy vegan stances and diva-style attitude at times. However, the dude has written some amazing songs.
Add in Johnny Marr's guitar playing, and it is one word: magic. Chords and riffs that shouldn't go together do, and are almost dream-like.
Now, if you're not a fan of post-punk or the jangle pop type genre that Moz and The Smiths are a part of, maybe you should stop reading. I'm not going to really go into why they are so great or try to sway your opinion, but let's at least acknowledge the musical talent by going through some tunes.
When it comes to "Top 10 Best" lists, I get touchy ALL the time. I'll fully admit it. People on my personal Facebook had to see me rant a couple weeks ago about the 50 Greatest Grunge albums and why the list is bullshit. So, I get it. Some of you are going to look at this list and criticize it, and that's cool. Opinions are like assholes. I just want to give credit where it's due.
It wasn't easy creating a list of top 10 songs for this article. Especially since that meant I had to sit an listen to hours of The Smiths and Morrissey, which is fine for me. However, most would probably get depressed. Let's face it, these guys are among the original Emo kids, only in competition with Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and The Cure.
Let's just get into it...
10. "Irish Blood, English Heart" - Morrissey
After a 7 year album hiatus, Morrissey put out 2004's You Are the Quarry, which admittedly, was the first vinyl I owned of my own. I remember popping it on our record player and when it got to this track, I couldn't help but noticed what a punch it packed. I'm not saying it's the best song on the album. "First of the Gang to Die" is an amazing track as well. For me though, it was the song that made me want to go out and learn more about Morrissey and listen to more of his music. At that point in my life, I was only familiar with a couple songs by The Smiths. So, this makes the list simply as an entry point for me personally.
9. "I Know It's Over" - The Smiths
The opening line of this classic off of 1986's The Queen Is Dead is so utterly gut-wrenching, and it just gets more depressing as the song goes on. There are moments where it picks up and goes back down again. For lyrical content alone, this song deserves its place on the list. Remember that thing I said earlier about being one of the original emo bands? This track solidifies it. There were many times in my younger years where I would just be heartbroken by it.
8. "Unhappy Birthday" - The Smiths
One thing that The Smiths (and Morrissey) do quite well is that they have the ability to make songs sound so upbeat when they absolutely are not. This song is the epitome of that. It is the ultimate "fuck you" song in my opinion, and I can definitely see its influence in others like it.
7. "Everyday Is Like Sunday" - Morrissey
This song may as well be a love song to every coastal town. Rain. Slow pace. Having to bundle up from cold. Absolutely hating living there, but there's an odd beauty to the place. At least that's my interpretation of it. I could be wrong though. Hell, it's off of 1988's Viva Hate, so it is probably about just hating where you are. Ah well.
6. "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" - Morrissey
Everyone wants to call "Every Breath You Take" by The Police the ultimate stalker song, but this takes the cake. If you haven't heard this one, give it a listen. Again, Morrissey has the ability to make a song sound innocent and sweet while it yields the most fucked up lyrics. That's what makes this song so amazing. It's just... cringy, and I love it.
5. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" - The Smiths
This track off of the 1984 self titled album doesn't get enough love. I think every single person can relate to this song. We have all been happy while drunk, gotten the job we need but not the job we want, or smiled for a moment at a happy couple, only to feel like shit shortly afterwards. We all give our time and energy to people who don't return the favor. I'm insanely guilty of that. What good does it do? None. This captures all of the normal human emotions and flaws.
On an unrelated note, if you haven't seen the video of the guy singing this to his newly adopted pug, changing the lyrics to "I was looking for a dog, and then I found a dog, and Heaven knows he's a good boy now", then you need to go and find it. Do it now HERE. It will make you smile. Also, adopt don't shop. Credit: Shaun Navarro
4. "How Soon Is Now?" - The Smiths
It goes without saying that "How Soon Is Now?" is the biggest hit that The Smiths ever had. It's a great tune. Haunting guitars, amazing lyrics, and a steady drum beat, it's still played at every single Goth club and Goth night around the world. It's been covered by multiple bands, the most recognizable being Love Spit Love, as their version was used as the theme song for the show Charmed. It has been used in films like The Craft and The Wedding Singer. While most would probably put this at the top of their list, I feel it's overdone to a degree. However, it still deserves to be acknowledged as one of the greatest songs not only in The Smiths/Morrissey catalog, but one of the greatest songs written.
3. "Panic" - The Smiths
Containing one of the most adorable opening guitar lines ever, this song has always been a favorite for me. We can all thank Johnny Marr for literally every amazing guitar riff involving a Smiths tune. While most may not be able to relate to the beginning of the song, I'm pretty sure that (especially in today's world) we can all relate to the latter part of the song. I know that songs played in today's clubs do nothing for me and do not speak to me at all.
"Panic" also snuck its way into mainstream culture in probably one of the best moments of the kids show Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. During the episode "Read Em and Weep", beloved character Sam Burger is adopted and is on a cruise ship with his new boy. The ship sinks, and another imaginary friend, Morsey (which is a Morse code machine equipped with a pompadour) parodies the tune along with the next song "Girlfriend in a Coma". Check out the adorableness HERE. Credit: Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends - Cartoon Network-Craig McCracken
2. "Girlfriend in a Coma" - The Smiths
At just over two minutes long, this upbeat sounding song is kind of silly. I often sing it or listen to it when I'm feeling down because I'm kind of twisted, and it cheers me up.
Again, lyrically, it's messed up as hell. Morrissey is the king of this tongue in cheek way of writing, and I wouldn't have him any other way. Can we talk about that bass line for a minute? All hail Andy Rourke! Seriously. The minute you hear it, you know exactly what song it is. That is one of the many things that make this song so amazing.
1. "Jack the Ripper" - Morrissey
Hands down, the best song of the catalog, in my opinion. Much like "How Soon Is Now?", it is one of the few tracks (at least on this list) that doesn't combine fun music with dark lyrics.
When I first heard it, I actually had heard AFI's version, which was released as a bonus track in the UK for their 2006 album DECEMBERUNDERGROUND. I'm not too too big on covers of certain songs, but AFI's version beat out My Chemical Romance's bastardization of the track. Back to Morrissey's version though...
Why more people don't include this in their playlist is completely beyond me. There's something oddly romantic rolled in with the creepiness of it, not just lyrically, but the melody against the instrumental is just... literal fucking perfection. If you don't listen to a single song off of this list except this one, fine. Just give it a shot.
So, that being said, I hope that maybe you have checked out the song on this list, and if you didn't, that's okay too. I get it, and I enjoy a good music meme every now and again. Morrissey can be an easy target to some, but just give his songs a try before you really knock him over for no reason. And catch him on tour with Interpol this year!
Morrissey Tour Dates:
4/15 - Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre
4/17 - Calgary, AB @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
4/18 - Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
4/20 - Saskatoon, SK @ TCU Place
4/22 - Winnipeg, MB @ Centennial Concert Hall
4/26 - Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
4/27 - Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
4/29 - Montreal, QC @ MTELUS
5/2 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/3 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/4 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/7 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/8 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/10 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
5/11 - New York, NY @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
9/5 - Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion
9/7 - New York, NY @ Forest Hills Stadium
9/9 - Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
9/11 - Kettering, OH @ Fraze PAvilion
9/13 - Rochester Hills, MI @ Meadow Brooks Amphitheatre
9/14 - Highland Park, IL @ Ravinia Amphitheatre
9/18 - Grand Prairie, TX @ Verizon Theatre
9/20 - Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center
9/21 - Houston, TX @ White Oak Outdoor Lawn
9/28 - Salt Lake City, UT @ SaltAir
9/30 - Portland, OR @ Theatre of the Clouds
10/3 - San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Auditorium
10/5 - Irvine, CA @ Five Point Amphitheatre
10/6 - San Diego, CA @ Pechanga Arena
Johnny Marr is also touring currently, and I am super excited to see him in Vegas next month!
Johnny Marr Tour Dates:
4/27 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
4/28 - Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre
4/29 - Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre
5/1 - Montclair, NJ @ The Wellmont Theatre
5/3 - Providence, RI @ Fete Music Hall-Ballroom
5/4 - New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
5/6 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
5/7 - South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground-Ballroom
5/8 - Portland, ME @ Aura
5/10 - London, Canada @ London Music Hall
5/11 - Detroit, MI @ Saint Andrews Hall
5/13 - Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre
5/14 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Pabst Theatre
5/15 - North Kansas City, MO @ Harrah's VooDoo Lounge
5/16 - Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre
5/18 - Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
5/19 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
5/20 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
5/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
5/25 - London, United Kingdom @ All Points East
5/26 - Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom @ This Is Tomorrow
7/20 - Sheffield, United Kingdom @ Tramlines Festival
8/10 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom @ Edinburgh Summer Sessions
8/22 - Charleville Mezieres, France @ Square Bayard
8/23 - Saint Clud, France @ Rock En Seine
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos credited to original creators and photographers