The Smiths A-Z: "Death of a Disco Dancer"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member









Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song from the Strangeways Here We Come album of 1987. (A live version of "Death of a Disco Dancer" also appeared as a B-side on the solo single "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" in 2009.)

The song was never played live by the Smiths but was played many times by Morrissey between 2007 and 2009.

What do we think?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I love it - there's something just strangely 'off' and weird about it. The way the guitars don't quit sit in an easy melody, but feel slightly discordant. The whole thing sounds very organic and the opposite of polished, which somehow works for the song.

As for Morrissey's version - it was great to hear it, but Moz really needs to kick Gustavo to the kerb, and do his wild keyboard improvisation live. :p
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
Such a criminally underrated song and perhaps the band’s most experimental track. It starts innocently enough, with some psychedelic guitar effects and a staunch bass riff that already telegraphs the unnerving quality of the piece. Next, Moz’s vocals enter, assuming a resigned tone to adequately paint the horrifying picture of gay murders in clubs during the 1980s - everything drips nervous suspense, and the tension just keeps building, until we reach a cacophony of Moz’s improv piano and a terrifying synth drone that tears up the stereo spectrum. It foreshadows the skronky conclusion of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem”, another “normal” indie band flirting with more avant grade textures. All in all, it’s consistently been one of my favourites from their discography, despite its status as an outlier.
10/10
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
One of their best album tracks of all time. You can feel the tension and the drama build up - then the song explodes.
A song I could easily listen to all day whilst eating a tin of Carr’s biscuits with a big pot of tea, whilst watching a tase of honey...

The perfect day I would say .
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
A wonderful, woozy, trippy, song which could well be the group's best album track. A (hyperbole warning) tragedy that they never performed it live. Maybe in the next world...
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A good song, but one that I wouldn't rank alongside the band's best work.

The lyrics are fine, but generally speaking I don't think Morrissey was at his best on this album. His piano adds quite a bit to it though, and he was right to reject Johnny's offer to redo it (according to Autobiography).


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 62nd from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 47th from 73 of the group's songs.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
A great epic strong, with the repetiton of ’ Love, peace and harmon, very nice but maybe in the next world’ as its major hook before tensions built up in the instrumental finale.
Also noticed that Moz sang ‘Peace, love and harmony’ in the demo. I think he changed that order for the better.
Not sure what to think about the instrumental outtro, I’d expected a bit more guitar work from Jesse but instead we get that strange siren (is that Michael F playing a horn?). And finally Boz on clarinet replacing the piano in the original.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
A powerhouse track that showcases how much they grew in their 4 years together. All I can think when I hear this is where would they have gone next? We'll never know... but it would have been an amazing journey. 10/10

As to what the song is about, I've had many discussions over the years. Some thought it was a commentary on the AIDS epidemic and the overall apathy toward those dying ("I'd rather not get involved"). Some thought it was a dig at the Beatles/hippie "peace and love" movement that was ultimately abandoned for self-interests. So, curious what people think?
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
She said: "Eh, I know and you cannot sing!"
I said: "That's nothing, you should hear me play piano!"

:cool:




Besides personal interpretations of the song, can anyone put up a link to a quote or interview, where Morrissey comments on the subject matter or meaning of the song?
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Prefer the monitor mix.
Pretty sure its meaning has remained ambiguous, although ultimately prophetic, given the club behaviour of the early 90's.
Regards,
FWD.

Edit:
Seems apt - Strangeways recording session.

272317853_3186016204977631_7816394739594908073_n.jpg

(Via manic_pixels IG)
 

The Wild Turkey

Wild T!
Turkerator
She said: "Eh, I know and you cannot sing!"
I said: "That's nothing, you should hear me play piano!"

:cool:






Besides personal interpretations of the song, can anyone put up a link to a quote or interview, where Morrissey comments on the subject matter or meaning of the song?

Moz's piano playin' was the perfect fit for the feelin'
of the song.
Kinda wonder if someone told Moz what to play or
if he went ahead and worked it out himself.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Prefer the monitor mix.
Pretty sure its meaning has remained ambiguous, although ultimately prophetic, given the club behaviour of the early 90's.
Regards,
FWD.

Edit:
Seems apt - Strangeways recording session.

View attachment 78862
(Via manic_pixels IG)
I know it's a candid shot but God, how tense and tired they all look. They already knew JM was unhappy.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
I know it's a candid shot but God, how tense and tired they all look. They already knew JM was unhappy.

Morrissey looks well rested and alert to me. Yeah, Johnny was being put through the ringer by that point.

But don’t they claim the vibes between them during those sessions were good and not troubled?
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
A powerhouse track that showcases how much they grew in their 4 years together. All I can think when I hear this is where would they have gone next? We'll never know... but it would have been an amazing journey. 10/10

As to what the song is about, I've had many discussions over the years. Some thought it was a commentary on the AIDS epidemic and the overall apathy toward those dying ("I'd rather not get involved"). Some thought it was a dig at the Beatles/hippie "peace and love" movement that was ultimately abandoned for self-interests. So, curious what people think?
I am in the camp of the first interpretatio, but the song also seems to include a reference to the peace and love hpiie movêlent. Poignant words, reflective of that particular time.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Morrissey looks well rested and alert to me. Yeah, Johnny was being put through the ringer by that point.

But don’t they claim the vibes between them during those sessions were good and not troubled?
I thought they always refererend to the recording of this album as their most enjoyabl studio experience. Of course, the thought of another tour had become unbearable for JM at this point.
 
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