On the back of airing some of his recent rather unpalatable views, I’ve read several articles where the question has been posited: should Morrissey’s statements lead those who loved The Smiths should now take a long, hard look at themselves?
It’s a no-brainer for me. I’ve always tried hard to divorce an artist’s political viewpoints from the art that they make, as long as those political ideas don’t encroach into their art.
Let me give you an example. David Hockney is, undeniably, a very fine artist. And politically, I had thought his views broadly chimed. He declined a knighthood in 1990, something which almost always earns extra kudos points in my book. But then in 2017, he redesigned the masthead for The Sun newspaper, albeit for just one edition. To my mind, that’s an endorsement of the rag and all of that has been printed in it. Suddenly, I view his work with a little more suspicion.
As for Morrissey and The Smiths; well, you can look at the lyrics he wrote when he was in The Smiths and compare it to those he has composed in his solo career, and for me it’s very difficult to make a case that his lyricism hasn’t been in decline for quite some time now.
But look at some of lyrics from The Smiths days, and I’m still struck with just how achingly beautiful, evocative, poignant they could be.
Tonight’s song is one of those; they released two versions of this song – an acoustic version which appeared on Hatful of Hollow, and an electric version which pops up on the B-side of the What Difference Does it Make? single.
I’ve plumped for the acoustic version, albeit the 2011 version remastered by Johnny Marr. I don’t usually like to highlight specific lyrics, but these lines get me every time:
“When you cycled by, here began all my dreams
The saddest thing I’ve ever seen.
And you never knew how much I really liked you
Because I never even told you
Oh and I meant to.”