Morrissey A-Z: "Best Friend on the Payroll"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member

Today's entry in the A-Z is "Best Friend on the Payroll" - the penultimate track on the Southpaw Grammar album.

What do we think of this one?
 

MrShoes

"I need a bogle for my glotch!" - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
Its not gonna work out....

Nah, I have always kinda linked this one in a middle-of-the-road sorta way.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
Should this song have been titled: "Jake"?!?! A very good representation of Southpaw Grammar for sure, which IMO is kind of meh especially as a follow up to V&I... but still stronger than some later work I suppose.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
It was typical of Morrissey that after an artistic triumph like Vauxhall and I, he would follow the contrarian path of committing career suicide with the Boxers single/tour and Southpaw Grammar. The former album reaffirmed his status as a quality lyricist, and he naturally rebelled...

He had written nowhere near enough lyrics to sustain an album and he had written nowhere near enough lyric to sustain this song. When listening to it again a couple of days ago, I was surprised that it lasts less than 4 minutes as it feels A LOT longer. It is ridiculously repetitive and the music is nothing like interesting enough to overcome the lyrical deficiencies. I struggle to get through to the end.

In the poll on the other board this ranked 198 from 264 solo songs.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
I prefer the Miraval acoustic version.
Yes, a 'Jake' song, but given the amount of time passed, it would be interesting to know why it was featured so heavily on setlists in 2009 (the only year it was played and assuming it was about to be 'over' circa '95 when Slee reappeared).
That said, he was still photographing him in 2008/2009 - and the song gets used 🤔
Regards,
FWD.
(edited while being quoted).
 
J

Janice

Guest
I prefer the Miraval acoustic version.
Yes, a 'Jake' song, but given the amount of time passed, it would be interesting to know why it was featured so heavily on setlists in 2009 (the only year it was played).
Assuming it was about to be 'over' circa '95 when Slee reappeared.
Regards,
FWD.
Maybe a nod to Walters being involved in Refusal’s artwork. **maybe
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Energetic, fun, with a strong vocal melody. I always enjoy hearing this song - even though I agree with one of the previous posters that it is quite repetitive.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I really like this one.
Yes, it's repetitive but the lyrics still manage to create a striking image with just three basic pieces of information: turn the music down, breakfast in bed, it's not gonna work out.
A catchy tune and a lot of fun to sing along with.

Miraval version is indeed slightly superior but the one I listen to the most is probably the 2009 live b-side version from the BBC theatre peformance posted above.

I also think its revival/debut in 2009 might have been due to working with Jake again, digging out old photographs for single covers etc...
2007/08 also marked the arrival of Damon.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
One of the weaker tracks on Southpaw, but still plenty to enjoy. The musical backing is great, and there is a really impassioned vocal performance from Moz - he even goes a bit out of tune at times, as though it was the early Smiths days again. I'd give this a solid 7 out of 10.
 

Eldritch

Well-Known Member
A prime example why Southpaw Grammar is such a deeply flawed album. If you want to release an album with only 8 songs, not one of them should be as slight as this (or The Operation, Dagenham Dave, Do Your Best... the midsection of SG is truly disastrous) A very workmanlike musical backing and a lyric, which is more a shrapnel of an lyric. Surely it wouldn't have been an impossible task to write some more lyrics and a middle eight.
 

Ben Budd

Well-Known Member
it's decent but it's only half a song. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes less is just....less.

It coming back live in 2009 was a bit odd.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Almost nothing about Southpaw Grammar appeals to me and I've hardly listened to it since the day it was released.

Just tried this song again and...I quite like the energy, the sound, it's almost got a kind of dirty American college rock thing there, the Replacements or something. But the tune, the vocals, the lyrics...nothing there, for me.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I mean... the demo had 'more' lyrics with a different first line and is less repetitive with the paper line being used only once so it seems like it was a conscious decision to have a 'simpler' version on the record

 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
I mean... the demo had 'more' lyrics with a different first line and is less repetitive with the paper line being used only once so it seems like it was a conscious decision to have a 'simpler' version on the record


That one's prettier.

He does create a vivid impression of pottering around the house with the best friend getting on his wick.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
That one's prettier.

He does create a vivid impression of pottering around the house with the best friend getting on his wick.
It is, it's rather pleasant and soft like all the Miraval demos. But to me it's not supposed to be pretty. That's why I like the 2009 "bull in a china shop" version so much. His deeper, fuller voice is much better suited to it.
 

MrShoes

"I need a bogle for my glotch!" - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
It is, it's rather pleasant and soft like all the Miraval demos. But to me it's not supposed to be pretty. That's why I like the 2009 "bull in a china shop" version so much. His deeper, fuller voice is much better suited to it.

Yes - superior! Thanks for sharing. Haven't listened to these sessions in a while.

MrShoes
 
T

Trans

Guest
Never cared much for southpaw. The big songs sound overwrought and the pop songs squeezed in between feel trite and kinda bland. Like they just got banged out and we’re polished but never finished completely. Nothing horrible but nothing to really keep my interest
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
I prefer the Miraval acoustic version.
Yes, a 'Jake' song, but given the amount of time passed, it would be interesting to know why it was featured so heavily on setlists in 2009 (the only year it was played and assuming it was about to be 'over' circa '95 when Slee reappeared).
That said, he was still photographing him in 2008/2009 - and the song gets used 🤔
Regards,
FWD.
(edited while being quoted).

My observation also: the song reappeared on the setlist at about the same time as Jake returned to the public eye with his cover photo of YOR. At the very least, I assume Jake saw the irony of being referred to as "best friend on the payroll" at that time and wasn't offended.

It is still a polite and slightly humorous reference to an ex. Morrissey has been harsher on other lost friends or lovers in later songs (e.g. It is not your birthday anymore).
 
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