Get SF Weekly Newsletters

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

Page 4 of 6

10. "This Charming Man" (The Smiths, 1984)

With that peacocking strut of a groove, "This Charming Man" is as disco as it is post-punk. But what really makes the track is how it delves into the untoward realities of adolescence with a sensitivity that's almost Dickensian. The questions posed here have surely troubled every teen at one stage or another: What happens when there's no light at the end of the darkened underpass, when even theoretically inclusive social circles won't have anything to do with me? Why can't someone -- anyone -- smile at me? Why is it so hard to face my reflection? Why can't I enjoy a real life like a real person?

9. "I Know It's Over" (The Queen Is Dead, 1986)

If "What Difference Does It Make?" boasts the all-time funniest Morrissey lyric ("You make me feel so ashamed because I've only got two hands"), "I Know It's Over" lays claim to his one of most gut-wrenchingly visceral: "I know it's over, and it never even began/ But in my heart, it was so real." Marr's spooked echo lends a touch of the extraterrestrial to a track about human misery.

8. "Asleep" (The World Won't Listen, 1987)

"Asleep" could be the most crushing song this band ever wrote, but it's breathlessly simple and economically short in design, free of arch wordplay or labyrinthine melodrama. Marr's piano chimes give off a whiff of airless dread: "Eleanor Rigby" is day-brightening by comparison. Moz sounds like a cipher, too devoid of feeling to ponder his eventual suicide in any depth. Still, "Asleep" makes its impact felt, a gentle tremor that reverberates violently.

7. "Barbarism Begins At Home" (Meat Is Murder, 1985)

Another Smiths song that rings uncomfortably true even a quarter-century after its release, "Barbarism Begins At Home" was "Born This Way" before "Born This Way." While the Gaga-backed It Gets Better campaign -- hatched in response to a 2010 spike in LGBT youth suicides -- is noble, "Barbarism Begins At Home" is wrenchingly real. Moz doesn't have to address the topic explicitly; the line, "A crack on the head is just what you get/ Why? Because of what you are" speaks for itself with next-to-no context. Then there's Andy Rourke, who funks up his bass and makes "Barbarism Begins At Home" roil like mammary clouds.

6. "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" (Louder Than Bombs, 1987)

Morrissey is an inexhaustible jack of all trades: cynic, Luddite, social critic, reporter on the crime beat. "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" describes people so desensitized by their industrial, apocalyptic world that they don't even take a second glance at an infant who's only garment is a copy of News of the World. It's a grim dirge made beautifully lyrical by cushiony, velvet-smooth funk.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

About The Author

M.T. Richards


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"