The Smiths A-Z: "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member






Our next track in the Smiths A-Z project is this song, released as a single in September 1985 and reaching #23 on the UK singles chart. "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" was also included on The Queen Is Dead the following year, as well as being featured on the Rank live album.

A demo version of the song was released on vinyl for Record Store Day in 2017.

The song was played live by the Smiths 48 times, in 1985 and 1986.

What do we think?
 

The.Truth.

Every.Single.Time.
I love it. It doesn't really develop that much lyrically so you have to kind of project your own meaning onto it but I don't mind that. It's almost one of those things where it makes a lot more sense in the context of all the rest of his work. We have love, crime, a feeling of being an outsider, passion, hatred, desire. I'm going to say that it's maybe even better that it's all just thrown out there for the listener to do what they want with it,
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
I love it. It doesn't really develop that much lyrically so you have to kind of project your own meaning onto it but I don't mind that. It's almost one of those things where it makes a lot more sense in the context of all the rest of his work. We have love, crime, a feeling of being an outsider, passion, hatred, desire. I'm going to say that it's maybe even better that it's all just thrown out there for the listener to do what they want with it,
Outstanding post absolutely nailing an outstanding song. Like Ask (and a few others) I prefer the Rank version just because it is so abrasive and beautiful. I even like the slightly fey video 😃
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Simply the most lilting, gentle and genuinely uplifting guitar melody I've ever heard, with huge emotion in it and the perfect vocal from Morrissey.
This song means the world to me.
I always interpreted the "yodelling" as Morrissey just 'giving in' to a stellar melody and not wanting words to detract from it - you can tell that he loves what he's hearing. One of M's favourite Smiths songs and rightly so.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Another song that was given a lukewarm reception upon release and another where Johnny's contribution outstrips Morrissey's. It performed quite badly in the charts and I seem to recall that Morrissey commented at a solo show that he never thought he would ever hear the song be greeted by cheers (or words to that effect).


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 11th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 18th from 73 of the group's songs.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Another song that was given a lukewarm reception upon release and another where Johnny's contribution outstrips Morrissey's. It performed quite badly in the charts and I seem to recall that Morrissey commented at a solo show that he never thought he would ever hear the song be greeted by cheers (or words to that effect).


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 11th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 18th from 73 of the group's songs.
Have to disagree there - this song is quintessential Smiths, in that it's a perfect musical composition before words were ever added but Morrissey then goes and makes it even better. The way his voice climbs and falls on "If they don't believe me now, will they ever believe me?" is pure Moz magic. It's the same thematically as "Hand in Glove" - we're amazing & we've got something special even if nobody else (music industry etc) appreciates it.
 
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Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Have to disagree there - this song is quintessential Smiths, in that it's a perfect musical composition before words were ever added but Morrissey then goes and makes it even better. The way his voice climbs and falls on "If they don't believe me now, will they ever believe me?" is pure Moz magic. It's the same thematically as "Hand in Glove" - we're amazing & we've got something special even if nobody else (music industry etc) appreciates it.
Nothing against Morrissey's vocal melody at all.

But the vague theme of being underappreciated was tackled with infinitely more substantial lyrics on Hand in Glove. The fact, as you've hinted, that this song is one of Morrissey's early complaints about the music industry also doesn't improve it...
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Nothing at all against Morrissey's singing / lyrics in the first part of this song, but from about 2.00 minutes onwards when he simply vocalises and Johnny and the band do the rest, it's pretty much the most perfect bit of pop music I've ever heard in my life.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Nothing at all against Morrissey's singing / lyrics in the first part of this song, but from about 2.00 minutes onwards when he simply vocalises and Johnny and the band do the rest, it's pretty much the most perfect bit of pop music I've ever heard in my life.
Exactly :love:
 

Janice

Well-Known Member
Hearing it live in Leeds as the covid pandemic was striking provided me with a new found liking for this.
I’d long perceived it to be the weakest song on TQID but, it’s earned it’s place.
I even bought a T-shirt with George Best on with the caption ‘The Boy With The Thorn in His Side’. Best was the backdrop for this song in Leeds.
It was subsequently dropped for the next 2 nights 🤒
 

MozIsGod

Active Member
I prefer the Rank version just because it is so abrasive and beautiful. 😃

Same here. I recall reading a few complaints in 2007 about Moz's live solo version being too "rocky" for some folks, but it's really not any different than the Smiths' Rank version. I just prefer the abrasive and raw live version of this song (both solo and Smiths) over the cleaner and poppier studio recording.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Such a triumphant and uplifting pop songs. Simply adorable.
And as it was the leading track of the ep, I will add that this is my favorite Smiths ep. An ep which travers from pure joy to desolate bleakness in less than 10 minutes, an emotional rollercoaste.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Another song that was given a lukewarm reception upon release and another where Johnny's contribution outstrips Morrissey's. It performed quite badly in the charts and I seem to recall that Morrissey commented at a solo show that he never thought he would ever hear the song be greeted by cheers (or words to that effect)
I agree that this song once more showcased Johnny’s versatility as a guitaris. It was a new musical departure after the sound of MIM. But to me, it also feels like the song in which Morrissey found the versatility of his own voice, and his ability to fully harmonise with the music. So a big step forward as a singer if you ask me.
 

Ketamine Sun

WATCH IT SUCKA! ; )
Perfection. Sweet perfection.


Margo Clarke asked Morrissey if this song was inspired by Oscar Wilde, and Morrissey replied: "No, that's not true. The thorn is the music industry and all those people who never believed anything I said, tried to get rid of me and wouldn't play the records. So I think we've reached a stage where we feel: if they don't believe me now, will they ever believe me? What more can a poor boy do?"


As a teenager, and I guess I still do, interpret the song as someone that wasn’t accepted by those around them, particularly family members, ones that stood or tried to stand in the way of one’s dreams or desires, dismissing them, not understanding them, etc. Think Rebel without a Cause or Romeo and Juliet. I assume this interpretation is not at all unique though. :lbf:


ARTY BLOODY FARTY/IS THAT CLEVER...JM
 
erm it's brilliant. Next Smiths song...erm it's brilliant.

As Andy Kershaw said in '86, 'I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote all the names of the bands whose music will endure for decades. An hour later I had only written down one name - The Smiths'
 

Ossie

Human Being






Our next track in the Smiths A-Z project is this song, released as a single in September 1985 and reaching #23 on the UK singles chart. "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" was also included on The Queen Is Dead the following year, as well as being featured on the Rank live album.

A demo version of the song was released on vinyl for Record Store Day in 2017.

The song was played live by the Smiths 48 times, in 1985 and 1986.

What do we think?

If forced to choose, this is my favourite. Perfect. 10/10
 

Nikita

Senior Member
In the poll on this board this song ranked 11th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 18th from 73 of the group's songs.
And I was really surprised by this result as I could name at least thirty songs that I prefer to this one, which as I consider as a nice number, but not one of their masterpieces.
 
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