The Smiths A-Z: "How Soon Is Now?"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member












Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song, initially released as a B-side on the "William, It Was Really Nothing" single in August 1984 - before then being issued as a single itself, five months later and reaching #24 in the UK chart. It also appeared on the Hatful of Hollow compilation.

The song was played live 83 times by the Smiths - and has been performed in concert 510 times by Morrissey.

What do we think?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I used to adore this song, but decades of relentless live performances by Morrissey and Marr - not to mention this being brought out at pretty much every opportunity by any covereage of the Smiths, has kind of numbed me to its effects. It's not the song's fault, I just feel like I've been over-exposed to it, when there are dozens of other Smiths tracks equally good. Even more than 'There is a Light',this has become THE Smiths song - their one defining moment, the big hit that's wheeled out at every opportunity. I really do wish I could enjoy it as much as I used to, I'm just burned out on it, which sucks. Boo-hoo for me. :cry:
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Yes, totally agree about this song having been overexposed but I'll never forget just how strange it sounded on the 12-inch of "William" and the raw, blunt, ache of those lyrics for those of us who were painfully lonely:

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


I mean, seriously.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always


Interesting Italian version above, with the fake fade out and Morrissey’s ‘ok’.

Geoff Travis didn’t think HSIN was very good (or representative of The Smiths sound, I believe) and initially it was released as a b-side!
But he did think The Draize Train could have been a hit, if Morrissey sang on it. doh:


Thanks to John Porter with helping Marr capture that amazing moment of sound.


Supposedly, Morrissey ad libbed, made up the words on the first take, as he was hearing the song for the first time (???). Pretty amazing if true.
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
This Song should have been the international worldwide breakthrough hit for the Smiths.

After this major f*** up
They should have realised, and jumped ship to a proper label, as they could have had their pick.

I’ve known many Anti Smiths fans over the the years and many have
Told me that they love this song.

I’ve enjoyed Moz live version over the years, and I’ve also enjoyed JM
Live version.
A song best played live I’d say ...
And loud.

10/10

If this song was a picture
Then it would be the Mona Lisa .
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
One of JM's most interesting quotes about this song (there are loads from different interviews, obviously):

"If you were to play 'How Soon Is Now?' on piano or acoustic guitar, it wouldn't have the same impact as the finished article – the power of the record has a lot to do with the sound and the instrumentation and not necessarily the words and the chords. That's very satisfying for me because 'How Soon Is Now?' is built on the guitar – unlike poetry, sound is something that's beyond intellectual ideas, it's primal and otherworldly. But I was ecstatic when the words came on top of the music. They are actually quite brilliant. The contrast between the two worlds that Morrissey and I lived in worked especially well on 'How Soon Is Now?'. That's what made our songwriting partnership so interesting; the intellectual, self-conscious analysis, and the streetwise druggy exuberance."
 

Nikita

Senior Member
The first Smiths song that I liked when a friend forced me to listen to How Soon is Now? in 1989. I still believe Morrissey performed it far too often, but it is masterpiece.
 

The Wild Turkey

Wild T!
Turkerator
Straight up forgot that this was on the Meat Is Murder
tape, until I listened to that Chrissy podcast.
Yeah, it was the first song on the B side.
Never knew at the time that it really weren't on the album.
It also explains why there was a long blank space on the
tape after That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore.
First time I heard it, I remember thinkin' that Moz was
sayin' he's "the sun and the air" and thinkin' it was a
kinda freein' thing to hear and it made me feel happy.
That stuff about bein' shy made be feel good to, cause I
knew what Moz was talkin' about.
Most folks talk about the guitar effect on this song, but it
was Moz's lyrics that hit me the most.
 
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Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A classic and huge credit must go to both Johnny and John Porter. Morrissey's lyrics fit very well, too but they are not the driving force behind the song.

It's a shame that the record company messed up its release, but it's a testament to its quality that it has still gone on to become world famous. Even later being the inspiration behind the theme tune to The X-Files.

Is this also the only example of a Peel Session performance not being entirely live (much of it obviously having been taken from the studio recording)?

I can kind of understand people saying that it has been performed too often, but it is a signature song so no surprise that they should add it to the set list. If you go to watch Paul McCartney you are going to hear Yesterday and if you go to watch The Beach Boys you are going to hear California Girls. I'm sure most concertgoers who see Morrissey or Johnny don't have an issue with hearing How Soon is Now. Especially as the rest of the set list changes so much.


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 16th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 3rd from 73 of the group's songs.
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
A classic and huge credit must go to both Johnny and John Porter. Morrissey's lyrics fit very well, too but they are not the driving force behind the song.

It's a shame that the record company messed up its release, but it's a testament to its quality that it has still gone on to become world famous. Even later being the inspiration behind the theme tune to The X-Files.

Is this also the only example of a Peel Session performance not being entirely live (much of it obviously having been taken from the studio recording)?

I can kind of understand people saying that it has been performed too often, but it is a signature song so no surprise that they should add it to the set list. If you go to watch Paul McCartney you are going to hear Yesterday and if you go to watch The Beach Boys you are going to hear California Girls. I'm sure most concertgoers who see Morrissey or Johnny don't have an issue with hearing How Soon is Now. Especially as the rest of the set list changes so much.


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 16th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 3rd from 73 of the group's songs.IN recent
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in people saying WHO Smiths belong to most Johnny or M
For, any reasonable person this approach is tiresome

Sure on the one hand Johnny formed the band, got the members, did all the music, helped with production, was often interviewed He gave Smiths a "street cool" that M could only dream of. He gave them a seriousness and to offset the erm, campness, managed the band (at times) hired vans and so on.
While M, looked in later years to be liked by football hooligans and gangsters, Johny actually knew these people

However, it was Morrissey that was the focal point, he was the wordSMITH, he was the voice, he gave most of the interviews. which were little works of art, in their own right. he designed the covers.
He created a world full of rich depth, he layered his work and the band with meaning, way beyond what Johnny could grasp.


Sure there was Andy and Mike who were important, in their own way. they helped with the bands sound but they were in no way near as important as M and Johnny

I say all this, as if one was to pick songs to show which band member made the song what it is- which component carries the song.. Bass drums, guitar, voice, words and so on
If one was to do this, then this song is, almost, pure Johnny...It's a huge win for Johnny.

He wrote it, it's his guitar that steals the show, M's voice is good sure, his words paint a picture BUT his words and voice are secondary to the guitar playing

On top of that, this song, Is one of their most popular songs, it's one a high percentage of people think of when they think Smiths
Johnny makes playing the guitar look effortless, much as Prince did but you watch Jesse, Alain and Boz try their hand at Smiths' songs, they kill them every time. This one especially

Watch this little clip _ How Soon Is Now? Clip


I try not to weep when I think of what could've been
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
A shimmering, ghostly, triumphant, emotive, kick 'em in the knackers, slice of absolute genius. Yes, it is a little overexposed...but I'd rather have this opening every gig he ever performs in the future than have to suffer fecking 'Munich Air Disaster' for the 200th time.

Originally a b-side. Let that sink in. They were giving it away...
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
One of my favorite songs, I never get sick of it, it's easily the best song of the 80's, I can't imagine why anyone would make it a B side. Record companies truly are run by idiots.
It's quintessential Morrissey and he is considerably less wordy in this than he is in other songs, yet still manages to fully tell the story, some of my favorite songs are like that.
I can't be the only person who used to get totally pissed off when that damn Hippy Chick song would come on, I would fall for it every time, turn up the radio waiting for How Soon is Now to play and it would turn into Hippy Chick :swear
I also hate Richard Butler for covering it, it's a terrible cover for a terrible movie and then a terrible tv show:swear
 
D

Deleted member 30764

Guest
One of my favorite songs, I never get sick of it, it's easily the best song of the 80's, I can't imagine why anyone would make it a B side. Record companies truly are run by idiots.
It's quintessential Morrissey and he is considerably less wordy in this than he is in other songs, yet still manages to fully tell the story, some of my favorite songs are like that.
I can't be the only person who used to get totally pissed off when that damn Hippy Chick song would come on, I would fall for it every time, turn up the radio waiting for How Soon is Now to play and it would turn into Hippy Chick :swear
I also hate Richard Butler for covering it, it's a terrible cover for a terrible movie and then a terrible tv show:swear
I have to agree with you about the Love Spit Love cover of this song. I don’t care for it, in the least. And it bothers me that it’s used for Alyssa Milano’s TV show.
 
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Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
I have to agree with you about the Love Spit Love cover of this song. I don’t care for it, in the least. And it bothers me that it’s used for Alyssa Milano’s TV show.
So wrong. So so wrong :disappointed:
 

The.Truth.

Every.Single.Time.
What can you say that hasn't already been said. If The Smiths could only be represented by one song this wouldn't be a bad choice. 10/10
 
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