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Why there will never be another band like The Smiths and a singer like Morrissey

Updated on January 28, 2013

The Draize Train

The Smiths

I was listening to The Smith last night, their first self titled album, and it occurred to me there will never be another band like them. Or another artist like Morrissey (The Smiths lead singer) for that matter. Can you think of another artist who managed to speak directly to those who are lonely and isolated? Not to mention the fact they were very competent musicians with great lyrics. Morrissey is accused of being morbid at times however there is a huge amount of humour present in his writing. “so I broke into the palace with a sponge and a rusty spanner”

On their first Album Morrissey manages to capture his own celibacy in the song Pretty Girls Make Graves. This song is quintessential of all Morrissey’s attributes. It captures his comment on traditional sexual roles, his celibacy, frustrations of celibacy, humour and paints them on the canvas of slate grey England.

Upon the sand, upon the bay
"There is a quick and easy way" you say
before you illustrate
I'd rather state:

"I'm not the man you think I am
I'm not the man you think I am"

And Sorrow's native son
he will not smile for anyone

In a few sentences Morrissey somehow connected with anyone who was not merely celibate but anyone who was sexually unconfident. This is more pertinent today with vast quantity of sexually motivated marketing that’s thrust in our faces. Morrissey creates a character which is burdened with the weight of sexual expectation. A fascinating subject that is not generally addressed as a man must believe he is capable of satisfying a woman.

End of the pier, end of the bay
you tug my arm and say: "Give in to lust,
give up to lust, oh heaven knows we'll
soon be dust..."

The fact that he states “end of the pier, end of the bay” gives the scenario a masterful image. A young man walking nervously with an expectant lady, they can’t procrastinate anymore for they’ve reached end of the pier. He’s managed to install an element of anxiety there which prompts the woman to take the initiative when she asks her companion to give into lust. This, whilst remembering was written in the early 80’s, also commented on role reversal. The woman sees sex as a craving she will yield to whilst the man laments his own lack of interest. This is no doubt a comment on his own frustrations.

Oh, I'm not the man you think I am
I'm not the man you think I am

And Sorrow's native son
he will not rise for anyone

And pretty girls make graves

I could have been wild and I could have been free
but Nature played this trick on me

She wants it Now
and she will not wait
but she's too rough
and I'm too delicate

Again the man tells the woman “I’m not the man you think I am” which hints that there maybe an element of persistence from the female. How interesting also that he mentions something not rising for anyone. This is a very British way of commenting on such crude things like sex. Morrissey also laments nature prohibiting his ability to be wild and free which again gives the listener an insight into his frustrations. By mentioning “that she wants it now”, Morrissey has used her lust as to contrast the celibacy. Now we are at the end of something, the female is at the point of demanding fulfilment. By referring to woman as rough he paints the male here as an innocent. Perhaps this is his first sexual experience.

Then, on the sand
another man, he takes her hand
a smile lights up her stupid face
(and well, it would)

Perhaps there is an element of controversy with the woman discarding him and turning to another man for satisfaction. The fact the woman was referred to as stupid also implies that the character may be spiteful to her in response to his own impotence.

I lost my faith in Womanhood
I lost my faith in Womanhood
I lost my faith

The conclusion to this encounter finishes with Morrissey bemoaning a lack of faith in womanhood. In summary this is a fascinating song. Who else in mainstream pop would dare challenge a listener like this? Morrissey has created an encounter where an innocent man is turned off by female lust. A man that has been so distraught by his experience he has lost faith in womanhood. This also addresses, to an extent, society's stereotype that woman are soft, gentle and lust less (than men).

There will never be another Smiths.


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