The Smiths A-Z: "Barbarism Begins at Home"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
I wasn’t very fond of it when it came out because it seemed too long and too funk for my taste.
it has grown on me over the years, along with the album of which the song is an indispensable part.
I would even argue that it was a daring song at the time, both musically (nobody was expecting a funky song from the Smiths) and lyrically (the subject of some form of domestic violence wasn’t something to openly discussion).

Yes, totally agree with this. It was genuinely unexpected, from what I remember at the time and felt a bit jarring in terms of how people thought about the Smiths being in some way "anti dance music". Brilliant song, though!
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Yes, totally agree with this. It was genuinely unexpected, from what I remember at the time and felt a bit jarring in terms of how people thought about the Smiths being in some way "anti dance music". Brilliant song, though!
I certainly thought of the Smiths, and especially Morrissey, as being anti electronic dance music at the time. They always felt like a reaction to all those synthesizer dance bands (like early Depeche Mode, Yazoo, OMD, Howard Jones, Human League). My perspective has changed with the passing of time: even Morrissey turned out to be more eclectic than I thought for a long time.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
I certainly thought of the Smiths, and especially Morrissey, as being anti electronic dance music at the time. They always felt like a reaction to all those synthesizer dance bands (like early Depeche Mode, Yazoo, OMD, Howard Jones, Human League). My perspective has changed with the passing of time: even Morrissey turned out to be more eclectic than I thought for a long time.
Even back then I get the impression it was more of a Morrissey stand than a Johnny stand. After all, Johnny collaborated with Quando Quango in 1984.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Even back then I get the impression it was more of a Morrissey stand than a Johnny stand. After all, Johnny collaborated with Quando Quango in 1984.
True. Johnny always was a Nile Rodgers fan, look at that picture of the 2 together saying « we’re like brothers’ in that Uncut article posted here the other day.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
The funkiest shit ever produced by a scrawny bunch of pale Englishmen. Might be Andy’s greatest moment in Smiths history, and Marr shows off his ridiculous amount of talent, breadth and musical prowess at 21 f***ing years old.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Used to love this song, but now I regard it as one of The Smiths' low points. Andy plays the bass line brilliantly, naturally, but musically it still comes across a sub-'Starsky and Hutch' cod-funk, Morrissey's lyric another one of his early, borderline paedophile essays , and the vocal melody/phrasing is so rigid and unsympathetic to the music, it's like aural equivalent of a middle-aged teacher trying to do a cool dance at the school party.
 

blllybudd

New Member
I've seen a lot of people comment on the long running time in a negative way and I can't blame them. Personally, it's one of my favourite aspects of this track, which is one of my favourite songs ever. There are times when I wish that it would go on forever. Johnny's guitar performance on this is sublime, and there is nothing left to be said of Andy's bass line. Mike's drumming is also a crucial part of this; I adore that triple snare on the second beat. On top of all of that musical genius is Morrissey's usual amusingly cynical self. Not one of the most popular songs from The Smiths' catalogue as is evident from this thread, but is probably one of my personal top five (it's near impossible to pick a top ten, let a lone a top five).
 

Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
Used to love this song, but now I regard it as one of The Smiths' low points. Andy plays the bass line brilliantly, naturally, but musically it still comes across a sub-'Starsky and Hutch' cod-funk, Morrissey's lyric another one of his early, borderline paedophile essays , and the vocal melody/phrasing is so rigid and unsympathetic to the music, it's like aural equivalent of a middle-aged teacher trying to do a cool dance at the school party.
Borderline paedophile? Eh?
Maybe you'd would think it was pro-domestic violence but only if you didn't actually know the title of the song.
It's Morrissey lampooning the twats who bash their kids, and blaming these violent idiots for the problems of the world.
And he's completely right. It's brilliant stuff.
 
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Roger O

Guest
For me the high art begins when the vocal does. I still flinch when I hear the opening line. Irish mum. Theres a 13 minute live version where they all go berserk.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Borderline paedophile? Eh?
Maybe you'd would think it was pro-domestic violence but only if you didn't actually know the title of the song.
It's Morrissey lampooning the twats who bash their kids, and blaming these violent idiots for the problems of the world.
And he's completely right. It's brilliant stuff.

Yawn. Fine if you're taking what he says at face value. Look at the bigger picture and you'll see that his early songs evince an unhealthy preoccupation with child sex. In this case, 'taken in hand' has a sexual as well as violent connotation.
 

Dirk Blaggard

Active Member
This, song, is the funkiest of Smiths songs. by a long chalk.

I was too young to actually go to a Smiths gig and arrived at Morrissey world, a few months after Bona came Out.
In many ways, I arrived when the best of M was done. Of that I am aware.

However, the new M was still magical,Kill Uncle had just come out, got panned BUT I liked it. It reeked of English twilight.
and he was just starting to be a live act, again ,It was one of the best time's of his solo career, in my mind


Although, I was aware I missed the boat, Smiths wise
I wanted to soak in as much Smiths as I could. The singer, seemed to live in my world, he seemed to have traveled roads , I saw before me. He carried the torch and he showed me delights, I may have missed.
I was English, I was Young, and I was ready.

There was one problem, how does one time travel and gather moments, my age deprived me of.?
The answer was record fairs, music press back pages, word of mouth and lucky run ins.
From here, I found recordings of live gigs, tv appearances and so on

From Welwyn Garden City, with love came VHS and TDK artefacts that had such magic , it stripped away the boring day to day of council estate life. When I watched. I felt home.

I couldn't be at a Smiths gig, sure. but I could at least watch. Rockplast, The Tube. Top Of The Pops, European live shows. I lay on the floor and I wacked up the volume and at last, ma, I lived.

I mention all this, as it was those early Smiths live shows where they played Barbarism that made the biggest impression.
Watching M and Marr shimmy together. Seeing how happy M was- he's happy maybe I can be happy to?
It was impossible not to be jealous of the crowd that was actually there.

For those of us whom stick up for Andy. This song is tattooed proof, of his worth,
A kick in the eye to those who snear, my dear - listen to Kick In The Eye by Bauhaus and its impossible not to sing "I crack the whip and you skip, " over the bass line

On record the song is brilliant but it was designed for live shows, to keep it trapped on an lp was cruel- like seeing a a tiger in a cage.
 
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