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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Top 25 Smiths Songs of All Time, 25 Years After the Band's Split

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 3:00 AM

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20. "Wonderful Woman" (UK 12", 1983)

Morrissey always seemed to get caught up with domineering women in his youth: one such relationship was so scarring that he swore celibacy on the priestly "Pretty Girls Make Graves." But "Wonderful Woman" is great for its elongated hook and Marr's harmonica, played with almost throat-tearing pain.

19. "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" (Hatful of Hollow, 1984)

It took less than two minutes for this thing to entrench itself in the youth zeitgeist forever. A lot of it has to do with that title, which could be the tagline for every Molly Ringwald movie ever. It no doubt helps that "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" is a brave, salient, unrecoverably wounded love song.

18. "Reel Around the Fountain" (The Smiths, 1984)

"Reel Around the Fountain" isn't perfect -- Joyce's opening drum line is very, very 1984 -- but the track (a piano ballad, rare for this jangly group) never flinches in its psychoanalysis of a child whose lost innocence is irretrievable. By song's end, death sounds like the path of least resistance.

17. "Unlovable" (Louder Than Bombs, 1987)

"Unlovable" starts out weird, lurching forward and then banking down, before slowing to a rich, molten burn. For once, Morrissey strips off his deflective armor; there's no kitchen-sink cynicism here, just brutal, bracing vulnerability ("I know that you would like me, if only you could see me").

16. "Suffer Little Children" (The Smiths, 1984)

A noir-rock epic about the string of child slayings that shook Manchester in the mid-1960s, "Suffer Little Children" is as roomy and haunted as the reservoir where the Moors murderers buried their victims. You'll need a good 15 minutes after hearing "A woman said, 'I know my son is dead'/I'll never rest my hand on his sacred head."

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M.T. Richards


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