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

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
One of my very favourite Smiths songs. Underrated and a bit overlooked at the time, but it seems to have grown in stature over the years. Yes, for Morrissey the thorn in question was the music industry - but the genius of the song is the "thorn" can be whatever the listener wants it to be. I reckon "And when you want to live / How do you start? / Where do you go? / Who do you need to know?" must rank as one of Morrissey's finest lyrics. Also, it was recorded just around the corner from me...
 

The.Truth.

Every.Single.Time.
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.
I think you're thinking of Hollywood Bowl 2007.

start of song

comment
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
Another magnificent song. The guitars shimmer around Morrissey’s expressive vocal take, combining to form something truly beautiful. The sorrow inherent in the song’s lyrics are actually somewhat countered by the high life fills placed in my Marr, and these take flight by the end, cradling Moz’s yodels into an eternity of guitar-based bliss. Can’t say anything bad about Rourke and Joyce’s contributions as always and the words are some of Moz’s most layered and only really impactful after multiple listens, in my opinion.
Will they ever believe me?
10/10
 
R

Roger O

Guest
Those deep acoustic opening guitar chords sweep you into this Niagara Falls of music. Long before TQID, I blew out two dozen sets of speakers on this single. It exists in an elite, avant garde relm. An entire cosmos away from any other band. The lyrics were written for me alone. Mozzers may have held back or modified to achieve perfection, but he did. It's always been in my top 3 Smiffs songs. I am longing for this new album to sing us out of this pandemic. I already knew it kicked all ass. How can they see the love in our eyes...
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
This song is yet another example of what made the Smiths so brilliant and unique... music and words that are somewhat at odds with each other... but somehow come together so well. In other words, the tune might suggest something more positive and optimistic than Morrissey's disappointment/frustration with being misunderstood and not taken seriously by the music press/critics (BTW, a theme that's never gone away has it?).

I remember reading in one of the Smiths books that Morrissey gave up or got bored with the tune and that's why there aren't words throughout the song. I prefer to think that he said everything he needed in a shorter time and was happy letting the power of this tune shine through. Finally, as others have mentioned the "And when you want to live ... Who do you need to know?" lyric is among my favorites... so simple and poignant at the same time.
 
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Dan Boratto

Guest
An absolutely perfect song... Masterpiece, simple as that. And I just can't understand why Moz and Marr said they hate the video... I think it's amazing, it represents the Smiths to me so perfectly.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Moz sings his heart and his life and we’re lucky to we get to hear him. I might not place it on my own personal Smiths top 10, but definitely top 20. Gorgeous composition by Marr.
 
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Deleted member 30764

Guest
His voice sounds especially ethereal on this song.
Maybe, his own personal anguish is bleeding through?
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
The song is about the music industry
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
Well, his anguish is clearly bleeding through then.
We know how Morrissey feels about the music industry and he isn’t warm and fuzzy about it.
I really don't think it's that deep
 

stux

Please wait..............
“If they don’t believe us now will they ever believe us”

In my opinion, they finest line ever sung. Gives me the shivers.

people are entitled to any opinion they like on Morrissey but that line was sublime, absolutely wonderful delivery.
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
This is the perfect example of how M can fly when given music, that gives him joy.
As a friend pointed out " on some bits it's like he's having an orgasm"

I brilliant bit of Smiths

Edit (iphone sent it before i finished )

He has said it's about the music industry and on a micro-level. So be it.
I expect it's a cover story for the humansexual, looking to find a love and a life, in a hard knock life.
and so comes the fantastic "And when you want to live how do you start? Where'd you go?
Who do you need to know?
which is by turn true and hilarious. I love those lyrics.

Its also the perfect martyrdom song " How can they see the love in our eyes and still they don't believe us", "
And after all this time, they don't want to believe us. And if they don't believe us now will they ever believe us?
 
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A

Anonymous

Guest
There are two different versions - do people prefer the original single version, or the 'redone' version that appeared on The Queen is Dead (and has replaced the original on various reissues)
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
There are two different versions - do people prefer the original single version, or the 'redone' version that appeared on The Queen is Dead (and has replaced the original on various reissues)
The first version is the one I prefer.

Edit
I prefer the Italian version of How Soon Is Now?
The World Won't Listen version of Stretch Out and Wait
 
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Deleted member 30764

Guest
This is the perfect example of how M can fly when given music, that gives him joy.
As a friend pointed out " on some bits it's like he's having an orgasm"

I brilliant bit of Smiths

Edit (iphone sent it before i finished )

He has said it's about the music industry and on a micro-level. So be it.
I expect it's a cover story for the humansexual, looking to find a love and a life, in a hard knock life.
and so comes the fantastic "And when you want to live how do you start? Where'd you go?
Who do you need to know?
which is by turn true and hilarious. I love those lyrics.

Its also the perfect martyrdom song " How can they see the love in our eyes and still they don't believe us", "
And after all this time, they don't want to believe us. And if they don't believe us now will they ever believe us?
I believe his terminology is “humasexual”.
You keep bringing up his sexuality— like in my previous thread about List of the Lost….

Why is that?
 
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