The Smiths A-Z: "I Want a Boy for My Birthday"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member






Next up in our A-Z project is this very early recording (summer 1982) of Morrissey and Johnny doing their version of a song by The Cookies, originally released as a B-side in 1963 (the song on the A-side being "Will Power"). The full track was posted online by Dale Hibbert in late 2019.

What do we think?
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
A piece of history.
Morrissey hadn't found his 'voice' yet and isn't singing confidently, but I really like this.
They'd met just weeks before...this is the very, very beginning and it's amazing to have access to something like this.
Morrissey set out his stall early when it came to his sexuality, aesthetic and influences. It's great.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
It's a very interesting little piece of the early Smiths story, even if it isn't exactly a classic recording in its own right.

Neither Morrissey's singing nor Johnny's guitar playing is anything special and, if you didn't know better, you would never assume that these two people lead one of the most important groups of all time.

The subject matter is obviously important and you have to wonder exactly how accurate Dale Hibbert's remembrances are of Morrissey and Johnny saying that they were going to be a gay band (which Johnny has denied). As it turned out, I think forgetting about material like this and focusing on more ambivalent original songs was a very smart move. It would have been much harder to maintain the sexual mystique if they had been releasing material like this on a regular basis.
 
D

Deleted member 30524

Guest
The first and only torturous Smiths song that I really dislike.
Granted they have only known each other for 5 minutes, granted it’s their first recording together.
So I’ll forgive them.
As Amy has said
It’s the Start,
And we all have to start somewhere.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
It's a very interesting little piece of the early Smiths story, even if it isn't exactly a classic recording in its own right.

Neither Morrissey's singing nor Johnny's guitar playing is anything special and, if you didn't know better, you would never assume that these two people lead one of the most important groups of all time.

The subject matter is obviously important and you have to wonder exactly how accurate Dale Hibbert's remembrances are of Morrissey and Johnny saying that they were going to be a gay band (which Johnny has denied). As it turned out, I think forgetting about material like this and focusing on more ambivalent original songs was a very smart move. It would have been much harder to maintain the sexual mystique if they had been releasing material like this on a regular basis.
I've come to wonder if Moz was just "testing" Dale, Simon etc with material like this, trying to see how they'd react and if they'd be supportive. He knew Johnny would be - JM had plenty of gay friends and was always out on the gay club scene, but I can see how Moz might have been wary of the others. I can believe that he mentioned being a 'gay band' just to see how the idea would land, without meaning to do it.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
The first and only torturous Smiths song that I really dislike.
Granted they have only known each other for 5 minutes, granted it’s their first recording together.
So I’ll forgive them.
As Amy has said
It’s the Start,
And we all have to start somewhere.
Might sound daft but something about M's voice when he sings "I want a boy to love" sounds very vulnerable and draws me back. That was a brave thing to sing, in 1982, with a bunch of near-strangers.
 
D

Deleted member 30524

Guest
Might sound daft but something about M's voice when he sings "I want a boy to love" sounds very vulnerable and draws me back. That was a brave thing to sing, in 1982, with a bunch of near-strangers.
It was very brave of him, I think most people around M then would have put two and two together.

Anyhow I’m pleased they swiftly upped their game, as they did make a few decent songs soon after 😉
 

Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
If this had been an original song, it could be clearly construed as a declaration of the singer's sexuality. But it wasn't.
It's a cover version of an old 60s (I think) song. When M sings cover versions originally sung by women, I don't think he ever changes the gender parts e.g. in Golden Lights, 'You once knew a girl, you loved her more than the world'.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
I’m a girl and you’re a boy, la la la..’


A sweet song, that I wish was a proper B-side. Though for obvious reasons it wasn’t, there’s power in ambiguity. Performed only twice.
And as Amy pointed out, a brave move on Morrissey’s part, and a test, the need for trust.



‘The earliest known surviving document in the recording history of The Smiths stems from those very first attic practice sessions with Morrissey, Marr and Hibbert. It was for the latter's benefit that the singer and guitarist taped a simple arrangement of "I Want A Boy For My Birthday," a 1963 B-side by New York girl group The Cookies, on Marr's TEAC machine so that Hibbert could learn the melody in preparation for The Smiths’ first demo session. The cover was Morrissey's idea. "I’d never heard it before," says Marr, "but I thought, 'Great, this'll really freak 'em out!' I was really happy to encourage it."


- Simon Goddard ‘Song’s That Saved...’



1647177570286.jpeg


Talked about on another thread, the guitar Johnny used a Gretsch Super Axe that came with built in phaser effect, very cool.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
All the book entries about it collated here:


Dale's brief Q&A replying to said premiere here:


Regards,
FWD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The recording itself is not much more than a sketch, but it has great charm. I'd love to have heard a proper full band version of this, with bass and drums. Maybe when the band finally reunite in 2050 they can give us a new studio version to close the circle. :)
 

Phranc & Open

I've known no war
A very deep-eyed choice for the first tender walking attempts in pairs. I find it more charming than some others here and would have liked to hear an embryonic version with bass and drums.
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
I find it sweet, charming and moving, largely because it is so rough - two mates/strangers sat in a bedroom, noodling away and coming up with this. All very sixth-form and reassuring. A bizarre and inspired choice. Moz's voice if so fragile, like he's daring himself to sing. Good on Dale for releasing it.
 
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