Vulture article: Johnny Marr on the Best of the Smiths, His Solo Career, and Fever Dreams Pts 1–4 (February 2, 2022)


Excerpt:

Something about making The Queen Is Dead you’ve never shared publicly

The Smiths have been pretty much done to death really by everyone who was involved, and plenty of people who weren’t. It’s a shame that so much was said without the benefit of maturity and hindsight and that there were so many agendas going around for so many years. But I guess it’s all part of the band’s kind of complicated story [annotation].

The truth was that there was loads of love in it. So maybe that’s the story that everybody is missing. Maybe that’s a surprise that everybody who is still interested needs to be reminded of: One of the reasons why they liked the sound of it and why it sounds the way it does is because there’s so much love in it. And there was love in the making of it. There was love in the writing of it. And sure, there was drama, but what you hear was a result of stone-cold love.
 
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M

Mr. Mustache aka Dider

Guest
Ah but you neglect the deep melancholy of many of Matt’s most brilliant work with the smiths. Morrissey’s openness opened up Marr as well. Up until then Matt’s band was “Freaky Party,” like white funk. I think Marr suppresses a lot of what could be fruitful shades of gray in his solo work. He certainly embraced aspects of it for The The, Electronic. Even Pet Shop Boys, and Talking Heads. There’s the beautiful highlife parts and then these gorgeous melancholic undertows. He is a genius, as is Morrissey. I would prefer to hear more colors in his solo work but he might be at a different stage of life. One cannot be what one no longer is, unless you pretend. Morrissey basically never pretends. It is always in the open. He continues to push and provoke. I think he is immature in many ways, but he is fearless on record. But perhaps fearful in human relationships. We all gotta work at it if we want better ones.
Stupid auto correct. All Matts = Marrs
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Ah but you neglect the deep melancholy of many of Marr’s most brilliant work with the smiths. Morrissey’s openness opened up Marr as well. Up until then Matt’s band was “Freaky Party,” like white funk. I think Marr suppresses a lot of what could be fruitful shades of gray in his solo work. He certainly embraced aspects of it for The The, Electronic. Even Pet Shop Boys, and Talking Heads. There’s the beautiful highlife parts and then these gorgeous melancholic undertows. He is a genius, as is Morrissey. I would prefer to hear more colors in his solo work but he might be at a different stage of life. One cannot be what one no longer is, unless you pretend. Morrissey basically never pretends. It is always in the open. He continues to push and provoke. I think he is immature in many ways, but he is fearless on record. But perhaps fearful in human relationships. We all gotta work at it if we want better ones.
Oh, certainly. Morrissey said, "I always heard such sadness in those rolling chords." Johnny has talked about melancholy feelings as well - but he generally comes across as such a bright, optimistic person, it's still quite surprising.

I think that Morrissey gave Johnny courage, in a lot of ways, to embrace parts of himself that he couldn't in Wythenshawe. For example, Johnny said - "I wanted to transform into one of the Ronettes, which I did as soon as I was able to get away from bus stops where I would have been beaten up." He often says that The Smiths 'liberated straight boys', you didn't have to be just 'gay' or just 'straight', you could be whatever you wanted. And I think he was liberated by that aesthetic as much as the fans were.
 
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CrazyFaceGenes

Active Member
Ah but you neglect the deep melancholy of many of Matt’s most brilliant work with the smiths. Morrissey’s openness opened up Marr as well. Up until then Matt’s band was “Freaky Party,” like white funk. I think Marr suppresses a lot of what could be fruitful shades of gray in his solo work. He certainly embraced aspects of it for The The, Electronic. Even Pet Shop Boys, and Talking Heads. There’s the beautiful highlife parts and then these gorgeous melancholic undertows. He is a genius, as is Morrissey. I would prefer to hear more colors in his solo work but he might be at a different stage of life. One cannot be what one no longer is, unless you pretend. Morrissey basically never pretends. It is always in the open. He continues to push and provoke. I think he is immature in many ways, but he is fearless on record. But perhaps fearful in human relationships. We all gotta work at it if we want better ones.
I think Marr said in his book that looking back at his schooldays he realised they were more difficult times than he expected and it was hard writing about it, there was probably stuff underneath that he connected with on an emotional level, just not the life of Morrissey.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I think Marr said in his book that looking back at his schooldays he realised they were more difficult times than he expected and it was hard writing about it, there was probably stuff underneath that he connected with on an emotional level, just not the life of Morrissey.
Something that struck me in their books was that Morrissey and Johnny both had difficult relationships with their fathers - neither could live up to the typical, masculine Irish Catholic ideal and they both had Dads who wanted them to get 'proper jobs' and stop obsessing over music.

Johnny moved in with Andy's family for a while when he was 14, for reasons that have never really been explained. I can also remember him saying once, "My old man didn't bother me with me until I was famous."
 
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F

F*ck j. Marr

Guest
The worst part or link in the smiths is the guitar player, not the drums, the guitars. Thank god he's not playing with Morrissey anymore after their split
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
It makes sense, though. Marr was/is a confident, talkative, outgoing guy with a huge group of friends - he's not going to relate to songs about unrequited love, being lonely and stuck indoors on a warm summer day, etc.


Which is one of the reasons why Marr and most people that try their hand at lyric writing don’t really come up with the goods, I mean the
really poetry.


There’s no damage, there’s no poison, to ignite from within
themselves the do or die need to express something through words that has not been expressed before.


I hope one day, he will share again with us, what he once tapped into with The Smiths. But, I really believe he needs a singer with real vision or damage, to bring out the deep guitar poetry that he was once capable of.
 
M

Mr. Mustache aka Dider

Guest
Oh, certainly. Morrissey said, "I always heard such sadness in those rolling chords." Johnny has talked about melancholy feelings as well - but he generally comes across as such a bright, optimistic person, it's still quite surprising.

I think that Morrissey gave Johnny courage, in a lot of ways, to embrace parts of himself that he couldn't in Wythenshawe. For example, Johnny said - "I wanted to transform into one of the Ronettes, which I did as soon as I was able to get away from bus stops where I would have been beaten up." He often says that The Smiths 'liberated straight boys', you didn't have to be just 'gay' or just 'straight', you could be whatever you wanted. And I think he was liberated by that aesthetic as much as the fans were.
I agree completely.

Morrissey helped liberate Marr. But Marr had perhaps unconscious baggage about what it means to be a man such that he now prefers to hand off all the “weakness” and “miserablism” to Morrissey.

The philosophical aesthetic of the smiths was largely Morrissey’s as you would expect of a front man. His bandmates embraced it for a time, but eventually they rejected it and him, reinforcing his belief no one is on his side.

People can achieve amazing things artistically and otherwise when they believe in each other. The Smiths were essentially unstoppable when they were united. But when the divisions came it was over. Thankfully they went out at the top of their game. I think “Strangeways” is amazing. I’m glad that didn’t drag it into a rut and bastardize it.

Moz’s first solo record had all the beautiful scars and vulnerability. That’s my favorite version of him. Glimpses returned on Vauxhall and in other material on occasion. “It takes strength to be gentle and kind” remains as true today as it was when written.

The early post-smiths work of marr was also wounded and beautiful, from the the to electronic, pet shop boys, Bryan ferry, kirsty MacColl!!! (She is so missed.)
 
M

Mr. Mustache aka Dider

Guest
Something that struck me in their books was that Morrissey and Johnny both had difficult relationships with their fathers - neither could live up to the typical, masculine Irish Catholic ideal and they both had Dads who wanted them to get 'proper jobs' and stop obsessing over music.

Johnny moved in with Andy's family for a while when he was 14, for reasons that have never really been explained. I can also remember him saying once, "My old man didn't bother me with me until I was famous."
Yes this surely unified them, spoken or unspoken.

As a teenager I too was liberated by the smiths in real time. I was and am heterosexual but friends who were also fans and I joked that we would probably sleep with Morrissey anyway at the time. It was homoerotic. Good for scrambling the old stiffened gender roles. This is why I feel a lifelong debt even though I don’t put a ton of weight into what either says about many things now. Morrissey remains artistically adventurous and intriguing. Marr does feel in need of a collaborator or going way deeper beyond a pose. Nobody’s perfect anyway. I’m sure not. I walk my talk though. In thanks to embedded Smiths from youth.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
Ah but you neglect the deep melancholy of many of Marr’s most brilliant work with the smiths. Morrissey’s openness opened up Marr as well.

Morrissey may be the only reason for Marr to write the kind of songs that he did in the Smiths. There’s no reason after, or now, really.

Matt Johnson is the only other singer/lyricist that came close to inspiring Marr to do some deep exploring, but unfortunately ( except one song) he didn’t really develop a song writing relationship with Johnson.

Up until then Matt’s band was “Freaky Party,” like white funk. I think Marr suppresses a lot of what could be fruitful shades of gray in his solo work.
Suppresses or can’t bring it to fruition by himself.

I would prefer to hear more colors in his solo work but he might be at a different stage of life. One cannot be what one no longer is, unless you pretend.
Hopefully the right singer/lyricist will come along to bring those colors out of him in his writing and playing.
 
M

Mr. Mustache aka Dider

Guest
Which is one of the reasons why Marr and most people that try their hand at lyric writing don’t really come up with the goods, I mean the
really poetry.


There’s no damage, there’s no poison, to ignite from within
themselves the do or die need to express something through words that has not been expressed before.


I hope one day, he will share again with us, what he once tapped into with The Smiths. But, I really believe he needs a singer with real vision or damage, to bring out the deep guitar poetry that he was once capable of.
Agreed. Internal damage isn’t always required but everyone has struggles. A dedication to one’s singular voice is critical though. It also tends to be a lonelier path. But more inherently rewarding.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
Something that struck me in their books was that Morrissey and Johnny both had difficult relationships with their fathers - neither could live up to the typical, masculine Irish Catholic ideal and they both had Dads who wanted them to get 'proper jobs' and stop obsessing over music.

Johnny moved in with Andy's family for a while when he was 14, for reasons that have never really been explained. I can also remember him saying once, "My old man didn't bother me with me until I was famous."



It’s an old story. Actually I always wondered how many Morrissey fans had no father or a difficult relationship with their father.
 
J

Jaime Red

Guest
Love? I thought that The Queen is dead was ferocity, criticism, irony, fury and a kick in the eye. I didn't know it was a hippy album.
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
Your point is false on its face, I feel. There are so many singable smiths songs. The guitar parts are also often singable. Sometimes it’s like two melodies. Or complex harmony. It worked somehow. They navigated each other. Then post-smiths morrissey continues to be inventive with melody, rhythm and lyric in a way that can’t be taught. Marr is not a natural lyricist or melodicist. And Morrissey cannot play an instrument or approximate Marr’s sound in any way, so he doesn’t try to.
According to Johnny Marr, you are right, Morrissey came up with the melodies, by singing them.
My husband talked to JM at a meet and greet and asked him about his and Morrissey's songwriting process. JM said he came up with the riffs and Morrissey came up with the melodies and lyrics.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
V

vegan cro spirit .777

Guest
:)

anyone can make dumb:guitar: when Moz is providing the melodies and lyrics.🤒
its not so easy when LePepe is in charge of them.o_O
Pep trying to make melodies and lyrics has been a katastrofa🥱
all the dumb comet cds add up to one annoying song. 'night and day'
'cold and dry' 'hi goodbye' 'go stay'(n)

it is what it is.:hammer:
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
The philosophical aesthetic of the smiths was largely Morrissey’s as you would expect of a front man. His bandmates embraced it for a time, but eventually they rejected it and him, reinforcing his belief no one is on his side.
Agree totally with your post, except for this bit - did they really reject it? I thought they were very supportive, until the end.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Which is one of the reasons why Marr and most people that try their hand at lyric writing don’t really come up with the goods, I mean the
really poetry.


There’s no damage, there’s no poison, to ignite from within
themselves the do or die need to express something through words that has not been expressed before.


I hope one day, he will share again with us, what he once tapped into with The Smiths. But, I really believe he needs a singer with real vision or damage, to bring out the deep guitar poetry that he was once capable of.
Completely agree. Like all solo artists after a time, though, the ego has landed. He is definitely capable of far, far more than the "long done do does did" approach in his current work.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
It’s an old story. Actually I always wondered how many Morrissey fans had no father or a difficult relationship with their father.
This one, for starters. :lbf:
 
M

Mr. Mustache aka Dider

Guest
Agree totally with your post, except for this bit - did they really reject it? I thought they were very supportive, until the end.
I kind of mean no one stayed close to Morrissey after the break up, as far as I can tell. He was sort of left upholding the smiths aesthetic so to speak. Rourke seemed to drift back to a “lads” style persona. Joyce didn’t seem to reject the band’s past, but obviously he and Morrissey could no longer be close, if they ever were, when the court case came.

I felt joyce deserved to win to recoup on touring compensation, but neither he nor rourke were ever entitled to songwriting compensation. Marr and Morrissey wrote the songs. Rourke and Joyce were critical to the sound, but were additions to the arrangements, not composers. Though if the four had decided to share a songwriting credit it wouldn’t be without merit or precedent (think REM), though it would have been extra generous of Morrissey/Marr. Rourke’s basslines are melodically integral. And no one else would have played quite what Joyce did.

Sometimes ex-bandmates part without acrimony, like Soundgarden, who later reformed successfully and made awesome new music somehow.
 
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