Yesterday I was able to combine music and reading by reading this great piece from 2007 about The Smiths' 30 greatest songs while I listened to each of the songs in turn. It took me a couple of hours and it was delightful. It made me want to list my favorite Smiths songs. It made me want to list EVERYTHING EVER, which, of course, I don't have the time to do. But, I do have the time to do a little Top 5 thing every week. And, it's my blog and I'm the boss so I'm giving it the green light. I'll start with The Smiths and next week maybe I'll do vampire books or TV series involving spaceships or I dunno, vodkas. I'll even take requests if you have any. Let's keep it fun and light, guys. Like The Smiths. Ha.
So, here we go, in no particular order, my top 5 favorite songs by my favorite band: The Smiths.
1) There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
I got into The Smiths in 6th grade when my best friend's older brother introduced us to them. In West Texas in the 80s, all we were exposed to was Top 40 stuff like Garth Brooks and Whitney Houston so when I heard the album this song is on (The Queen Is Dead), I felt like my brain had been blown wide open. This song just had everything. Morrissey's voice and those lyrics! To a twelve-year-old, a song about dying in a bus crash felt dangerous and romantic and so off-kilter in a beautiful way. I quickly accumulated Meat Is Murder and The Smiths title album and listened to them all to death but the 2nd side of The Queen Is Dead got the most play because of this song. I still get the shivers when I hear it.
I didn't hear this until Louder Than Bombs came out, which might as well have been a regular album to my friends and I since we didn't have access to much music. We had one record store and we were lucky if they'd have a few copies of an album, much less singles. The chorus of "Hang the DJ" filled me with glee. Yeah! What did our DJs ever do for us in West Texas but crank out regurgitated pop music that I couldn't wrap my head around? I heard this song at the right time in my life to appeal to my rebellious streak. I still love it because it's just fun and solid and hilarious.
3) Bigmouth Strikes Again
Another single but holy shit, this song. It's just so funny. I love the visual of Joan of Arc's Walkman melting. The whole thing's so relatable. Who hasn't said something stupid and then felt like they had "no right to take my place with the human race." It's a jam too. The guitars! I'll never stop loving this one.
4) Cemetary Gates
Another one from The Queen Is Dead, which is so not surprising considering how many times I've listened to this album in my life. This is the one, I think, that I'd say if I were forced to give a straight answer to my one favorite Smiths' song. Like if I met Morrissey himself and he asked or if I were kidnapped by a very strange kidnapper and he wanted to quiz me about music before he blindfolded me and fed me to sharks or whatever, I'd scream "Cemetary Gates, okaaay, weird kidnapper dude!" I've grown more and more fond of it as I've gotten older. Now that I've actually read the authors he mentions and gone through a moody "hanging out in graveyards" stage, I guess it speaks to me more. Whatever the reason, this song just makes me happy.
5) Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before
I got Strangeways, Here We Come right before a family road trip. I remember popping it into my little silver Walkman and just listening to it over and over again while I stared out the window at the desert and the tumbleweeds. (We're talking tapes for all of these albums back then, guys. I didn't have any Smiths on vinyl until a few months ago.) I loved the whole thing. I thought "Girlfriend In A Coma" was the funniest thing ever (It is, seriously, listen to the lyrics) but this song was just so bitchy and witty. "Nothing's changed I still love you. Only slightly less than I used to, my love." At this point in my life, I hadn't had anything to drink stronger than a wine cooler but I thought it was so funny that he would be drinking more after he fell on the floor. Zany! I also loved the intro. It felt like a road trip song, like we were really going somewhere: me, Moz and Marr.
Honorable mention: "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" and "Shoplifters Of the World Unite." Sorry, guys, I had to because I feel like on another day, depending on my mood, either of these could've made the list SO THERE. Totally not cheating at all.
Okay, that's my Top 5! That was particularly hard because it involved admitting that some of my favorite songs from other periods in my life just don't work for me as much anymore. Not that I don't still love them but they just don't quite make the Top 5 cut. For instance, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" would've been number 1 in high school but I didn't even consider it for this list. Maybe I'm not as miserable now. Fist pump.
Let me know if you have a suggestion for my next Top 5!
*patch from aliexpress.