Hang the DJ

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There is nothing, repeat nothing, more cringingly awful than people quoting song lyrics as if they are deeply meaningful works of literature. It  is painfully, toe-curlingly embarrassing. When a friend who shall remain nameless told me that, overcome with love one day, she texted her boyfriend the lyrics to Chasing Cars, a small part of me died inside.

But if I were ever to make an exception to this rule (and I won't, but if I were), it would be for Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey. The man is a genius. He's also a bit of a pompous twat with borderline racist tendencies, but a genius nonetheless. What's more, he's the Hubster's favouritest favourite ever. 

The Smiths are known for being, well, a bit glum. A bit moany. Lines like, "for once in my life, let me get what I want. Lord knows, it would be the first time," don't exactly help to alleviate that impression. But trust me, it's not all just depressive whining. Some of it's angry, some of it's thoughtful, some of it's even - whisper it - funny. ("I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and heaven knows I'm miserable now." I mean, COME ON.)

And some of Morrissey's songs are the best love songs ever written. Fact.

Not the "oh, you're so beautiful and everything's so perfect, I want to hold your hand and gaze lovingly into your eyes and frolic through soft-focus fields forever and ever" kind of love song. I'm talking about the gritty, honest, this-is-what-love-really-feels-like-and-it's-sometimes-quite-shit kind of love song. 

I'm talking about lyrics like, "Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear, and don't go home tonight. Come out and find the one that you love and who loves you."

Lyrics like, "You're on your own tonight, with your triumphs and your charms, while they are in each other's arms."

Lyrics like, "I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does. There's a club if you'd like to go - you could meet somebody who really loves you. So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry and you want to die." (Erm, okay, that one is kind of depressing.)

Lyrics like, "And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die. And if a ten-tonne truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine." (That one is so good, the awesome Celia has it framed above her bed, and Fin and I had it printed in the back of our orders of service on our wedding day, despite my aforementioned hatred of lyric-quoting.)

And then there's my favourite Smiths line. Maybe the best Smiths line ever.  This line:

"It's so easy to laugh. 
It's so easy to hate.
It takes strength to be gentle and kind."

Boom. Told you Morrissey was good.

Tell me I'm not the only Moz fan lurking in the blogosphere. Or tell me I'm wrong and the lyrics to Chasing Cars are in fact a sophisticated expression of the power and and simplicity of love rather than a pile of cheesy meaningless crap.

(Sorry, Nameless Friend, if you're reading this. Nothing's changed, I still love you. Only slightly less than I used to.)

{Amazing Penguin Classics/Smiths posters by Hunting Bears. Why is the Ask one sold out? WHYYYY??}

15 boats moored

  1. I CRINGE every time someone tells me about how Chasing Cars was an important song on their wedding day, and this year, that has been a regular occurrence. Ummm... "I don't quite know - how to say- how I feel"??


    So true. I quite like Queens of the Stone Age.

    "Falling in and out of love
    Something sweet to throw away
    But I want something good to die for
    To make it beautiful to live"

    But I have to agree, give me literary quote any day.

  2. Ask is my favourite Smiths song ever. The sentiment of the whole song just makes me smile. I used to think they were a bit depressing but now I love them.

    "If there's something you'd like to try, ask me I won't say no, how could I?"

  3. My favourite recent Smiths-related story - Jarvis Cocker played Unhappy Birthday on his Radio 6 Sunday afternoon slot in 'honour' of David Cameron's birthday.

    "I want to wish you an unhappy birthday
    Because you're evil
    And you lie
    And if you should die
    Then I may feel slightly sad
    but I won't cry..."

    I love The Smiths. C'est impossible to pick a favourite, but William, it was Really Nothing ("The rain falls hard on a humdrum town/This town has dragged you down") reminds me of being resolutely and furiously miserable during the My-So-Called-Life cliche years.

  4. Depressing, no just real. I am huge Smiths fan. How soon is now is my favourite, It has stopped me feeling lonely on many occasion: "How can you say I go about things the wrong way, I am Human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does".

  5. I can't get over this, 'overcome with love one day, she texted her boyfriend the lyrics to Chasing Cars, a small part of me died inside'.

    Be glad facebook didn't exist when you were a teenager, because hormonal teenagers + pop music + social networking = vom.

  6. I got sent Elliot Smith lyrics at three in the morning by a very drunk man who I may or may not be marrying (I am marrying him).

    He cares not a jot for lyrics though so I think really he just wrote what he was listening to and hoped for the best. He once put loads of songs about proposing on a mix CD for me without realising it.

    I do like some lyrics, I love literature but some songs transport me, so I care about those lyrics (less about what they might have meant and more about what they mean to me).

    I also love Morrissey. Some lyrics make me slightly uncomfortable but in general I really like them. And the Morrissey/Marr combo of the Smiths? Heaven.

  7. The biggest thing that bugs me about Chasing Cars is the HUGE grammatical error in the chorus - it should be "if I lie here" not bloody "lay here". Annoys me every time I hear it and totally ruins the song. (That, and the overplaying on shows such as X Factor.)

    Sorry, grammar rant over.

    I love the Smiths/Morrissey, the lyrics are so poignant yet witty. James' lyrics are similar in this respect.

    We discovered the other day that my mother has been mixing up the Smiths and the Proclaimers for years. As you can imagine, this led to much hilarity.

  8. 'i died a little inside' he he he

    I like the fact you got another one in the end there too ;)

    I'm not much of a lyricist though... I can enjoy music without worrying to much that the words are in fact STUPID (well sometimes it bothers me, depends if I like the music enough, but sometimes lyrics sound good but dont make sense as spoken or written word)

    As for quoting lyrics... I like it if its funny. But what might be 'tongue in cheek' to us, others might think 'oooohh that's poignant OR why on earth did they choose that blah blah' ... so i shall avoid quoting lyrics at my wedding, other than 'Loving you, isnt the right thing to do' (ha ha not really but I love Fleetwood Mac, I love the story behind 'Dreams' and 'Go your own way'...they had some issues!)

    As for literary quotes, i'm not that hot at that either...so I shall avoid both...

  9. I heart the Smiths! All that dour, gritty kitchen-sink poetry with twinkly sunshine guitars... so many classic, timeless songs. For my part, I think Morrissey is a complete twat, but he is also a genius. "I bear more grudges/than lonely high court judges" is my favourite lyric. And if lyrics are beautiful enough to be considered poetry, then why not quote them? It's all words.

    Slap me on the patio Kirsty, I love this post!


  10. Oh, yes, the Smiths can be very funny too. I am quite a bit taller than my husband. When we met, his way of introducing me to his culture (I'm Spanish, he's a Manc) was playing "some girls are bigger than others" over and over again. It still makes us laugh. Favourite love song? "You're the one for me, fatty". It is, indeed, no poetry, but it's still so much better than... errrr... Chasing Cars???

  11. I'm just going to pretend I didn't see this post because a)it's still five days til payday b)even if I had money I should be spending it rent or food as opposed beautifully posters to hang in spacially challenged flat. But still, those faux Penguin/Mozzer covers are a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I want 'em all

  12. our first dance at our wedding was to 'please please please let me get what I want'. And Kirsty did you know you can actually download a font that is Morrisey's handwriting?? True stories.

  13. You make me smile. Don't you realise they are artists?!

  14. While I am quite fond of the Smiths, I've surely been guilty of using Mr. Declan McManus' lyrics at some point or other in my lifetime, to mean more than he probably intended.

  15. *raises hand* You're not alone, friend. I recognized every single one of those songs you quoted up there, and sang the lyrics under my breath. "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" is one of my favorites. Go Fin for having that put on the back of your orders of service!