I think the most beautiful lyric on The Smiths’ Singles collection is in “This Charming Man”, the line, “I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear… This man said, “It’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care.” There’s something really desolate in the line, something very Oscar Wilde, something horribly crunched-up inside, something a bit like Tori Amos but less insincere somehow than most of her work… and yet with the same weird feeling that in singing pain, one triumphs over it. With Tori, though, it feels like a therapy session; with Morrissey it feels more like a drunken knight slaying a dragon and then standing around in his armor smashing it in the face, making comments on its crappy treasure and gloating that he won the battle… except of course he’s not sure the dragon isn’t just playing dead and waiting till he leaves, at which point it will roast him with a simple, quick exhalation of breath.
In any case, This Charming Man isn’t “my song”, by any means. I think the songs I like best are “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” (for bleakest humour), “William, It Was Really Nothing” for the singinghe really croons on it, and as John Wendel and I mentioned today, the bit about “how can you stay with a fat girl who says, ‘would you like to marry me?… and if you like you can buy the ring!’…” reminds us of someone we both know here in Jeonju; “How Soon Is Now” reminds me of how I used to feel, say, in Montreal, and “Shoplifters Unite” just for dark, evil style. Also, for a little while there “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” was my theme song, but no more. Hahaha.
I have a couple more collections and albums from the Smiths, and The Flaming Lips, queued up and I hope they come through soon. Wheee.