The last First Impressions post was really no indication of the way the series will be set up. If the original explanation seemed scattered and vague it was for good reason. I intend for these posts to be kind of all over the place.
Today though, I want to give you some snippets of my first exposure to Morrissey and The Smiths.
This video doesn’t really make any sense, but I don’t think it needs to. It was 1994 and Morrissey is in a hallway of swinging lamps. I’m willing to bet that this is the first Morrissey song I ever heard, and it makes me wish every karaoke bar carried his whole catalogue. I’ll take something like this over I Will Survive anyday.
As for The Smiths, I’ll set another scene for you: It was Election Day 1994 (always in November, for those of you not in the US) and I set up a blank tape in my stereo to record the 20 minutes of radio I’d be missing when I walked with my mother to her polling station. Matt Pinfield had promised to play The Smiths, followed by a debut by Oasis (Definitely Maybe was brand new, and they were featuring it that week). Up until that point I think I only knew The Smiths by reputation.
I was pretty into Oasis at that point. The ad in Spin magazine for Definitely Maybe had a 1-800 number you could call to hear clips of the album and I would call it from the pay phone in the church parking lot on the nights I was forced to attend.
I remember coming home and listening to these two songs together and realizing how easy The Smiths were to like. It’s only now that I see more lines drawn between the two songs (two bands from Manchester, two melancholic songs about marriage).
The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, This town has dragged you down
There’s no need for you to say you’re sorry, Goodbye I’m going home
The Smiths got to me with their wordy lyrics and jangly guitars, and song titles that sounded like the answers to questions people were asking me all the time. I fell for them pretty quickly after that.
As for the few bonus tracks on the playlist, I’ve included Radiohead‘s live cover of The Headmaster Ritual a song “about when we were younger, but we didn’t write it”, because it makes me wish Radiohead would devote themselves to being a Smiths cover band from now on, (just my opinion, I know).
And a few songs best enjoyed as you sink into your bed at night, into the utter loneliness. Enjoy!
The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Nine Inch Nails – Something I Can Never Have