The Queen is Dead ~ The Smiths

the smithsThe Smiths were an English rock band active from 1982 to 1987, based on the songwriting partnership of singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. Critics have called them one of the most important alternative rock bands to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s and the group has had major influence on subsequent artists. Morrissey’s lovelorn tales of alienation found an audience amongst youth culture bored by the ubiquitous synthesizer-pop bands of the early 1980s, while Marr’s complex melodies helped return guitar-based music to popularity.

The Smiths were formed in early 1982 by two Manchester residents: an unemployed writer named Steven Patrick Morrissey (he had not yet abandoned his first names) who was a big fan of the New York Dolls and briefly fronted punk rock band The Nosebleeds, and Johnny Marr, a guitarist and songwriter. Originally named John Maher, Marr changed his name to avoid confusion with the Buzzcocks drummer. Marr’s jangly Rickenbacker guitar playing became synonymous with The Smiths’ sound. After recording several demo tapes with the drummer from The Fall, Simon Wolstencroft. they recruited drummer Mike Joyce in fall of 1982. Joyce had formerly been a member of punk bands The Hoax and Victim. As well, they added bass player Dale Hibbert, who also provided the group with demo recording facilities at the studio where he worked as a factotum. However, after two gigs, Marr’s friend Andy Rourke replaced Hibbert on bass, because neither Hibbert’s bass playing or personality fit in with the group. Marr and Rourke had previously worked together in The Paris Valentinos along with actor Kevin Kennedy.

Encyclopedia Britannica comments that the band’s “non-rhythm-and-blues, whiter-than-white fusion of 1960s rock and postpunk was a repudiation of contemporary dance pop” which was popular in the early 1980s. The band also picked their name in part as a reaction against names used by popular Synthpop bands of the early 1980s, such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Spandau Ballet, because they considered these names fancy and pompous.In a 1984 interview Morrissey stated that he chose the name The Smiths “…because it was the most ordinary name” and because he thought that it was “…time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.”

The Queen is Dead

“The Queen is Dead” is a song that The Smiths’ guitarist, Johnny Marr began writing as a teenager.  The song was released on The Queen is Dead album in June 1986, but was sound checked during a tour of Scotland in September and October of 1985.

Oh ! Take me back to dear old Blighty,
Put me on the train for London Town,
Take me anywhere,
Drop me anywhere,
Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham
But I don’t care,
I should like to see my …

I don’t bless them
Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between archers
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing

I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil ?
Oh …
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the 18th pale descendant
Of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed ?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed ?

Some 9-year old tough who peddles drugs
I swear to God
I swear : I never even knew what drugs were
Oh …
So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said : “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said : “That’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No-one talks about castration
Oh …

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty
Oh, these are the things that kill me

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair …
Oh, these are the things that kill me

All their lies about make-up and long hair, are still there

Past the Pub who saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Past the Pub that wrecks your body
And the church – all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Life is very long, when you’re lonely
Life is very long, when you’re lonely
Life is very long, when you’re lonely
Life is very long, when you’re lonely

  • Audio from the 1986 album, The Queen Is Dead (2011 Remastered Version):
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DJ Allyn

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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