14 Charming Quotes About The Smiths by Morrissey

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February 20th marks the 30th anniversary of the self-titled first album by those mighty masters of mope from Manchester, The Smiths. Throughout their brief five-year history, these effusive lads were characterized by the angst-ridden yet playful lyrics of their cheekily outspoken frontman, Morrissey. In honor of their debut, here are some quotes about them from that charming man himself.

1. ON MEETING JOHNNY MARR

“…Johnny first shoved his face in, and he said, “You’ve got a funny voice.” The comment contained an oblique confession, which said: you don’t talk as shockingly bad as I do…I am shaken when I hear Johnny play guitar, because he is quite obviously gifted and almost unnaturally multi-talented. Since he shows an exact perspective on all things, I can’t help but wonder: What is he doing here with me?”

From his autobiography.

2. ON COLLABORATING WITH MARR

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“We both had an astonishingly solid sense of direction, and we very rarely disagreed which was unusual because we were opposites—he was full of excitement for everything and I was … not.”

From a 2012 interview in Mojo Magazine.

3. ON NAMING THE BAND

“The name doesn’t mean anything, it simply serves its purpose. I think it’s very important not to be defined in any one category. Once you’re defined you’re limited and musically that petrifies me.”

From The Smiths’ first magazine interview ever.

4. ON THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM

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“I look back on the album that became The Smiths and I see nothing at all that had anything to do with me. Although the songs were very strong, the recording of those songs—in my view—failed everyone.”

From his autobiography.

5. ON “THIS CHARMING MAN”

“'This Charming Man’ is about being charming, which very few people are these days. I think it’s nice to instill these words into people’s brains and who knows? It might rub off on a new generation.”

From an October 2012 interview in Mojo Magazine

6. ON THEIR FIRST TELEVISION APPEARANCE

“I am rolled out to face an icy grilling from Henry Kelly—a little, pinched Irish madam who has no time for me and who cuts me off mid-sentence, with neither a ‘thank you’ or a ‘good luck’ as he minces frostily into his next major superstardom moment. Some people are just awful.”

From his autobiography.

7. ON PERFORMING

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“As a very small child I found recorded noise and the solitary singer beneath the spotlight so dramatic and so brave… walking the plank… willingly… It was sink or swim. The very notion of standing there, alone, I found beautiful. It makes you extremely vulnerable, but everything taking place in the hall is down to you. That's an incredible strength, especially for someone who had always felt insignificant and disregarded. Coupled with the fact that you could also be assassinated…”

From a 2010 interview in The Guardian.

8. ON THE RECORD INDUSTRY

“We didn’t ever make money from touring, and we had no idea where our worldwide royalties ended up. In time-honored tradition, we were just two more pop artists thrilled to death with the spinning discs that bore our names. The specifics of finance and the glutonous snakes-and-ladders legalities were deliberately complicated snares that all pop artists are expected to understand immediately. The act of creating music and songs and live presentations are relied upon to sufficiently distract the artist so that labels and lawyers and accountants—so crucial to groups in matters of law—might thrive.”

From his autobiography.

9. ON CELEBRITY

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“I don’t have an exotic life-style. I know that people think if one is vaguely famous then you belong to this celebrity community, but I need hardly say that I have not filled in that application form. Well I did, but it was rejected.”

From a 1991 interview in Spin.

10. ON HIS NAME AND NICKNAME

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"My own name is by now synonymous with ‘miserable’ in the press, so Johnny [Marr] putters with ‘misery’ and playfully arrives at ‘misery mozzery’, which truncates to Moz, and I am classified ever after. I had originally decided to use only my surname because I couldn’t think of anyone else in music that had done so—although, of course, many had been known by just one name, but it hadn’t been their surname. Only classical composers were known by just their surnames, and this suited my mudlark temperament quite nicely.”

From his autobiography.

11. ON THE FIRST SHOW OF THEIR FIRST AMERICAN TOUR

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“I walk onstage … at the Danceteria, and as I do so, my blindness and bewilderment lead me directly off the lip of the stage, and I crash at the feet of the assembled human spillage. Unaided, I scramble back up and onto the stage, and I limp directly off—past three blank musicians who are unable to cope with such embarrassment … As I walk back out, a shrill female voice from the audience screeches ‘WHAT is WROOOOOOOOONG with you?’ Hello, America.”

From his autobiography.

12. ON HATING IT WHEN FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL

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"When my old friend Simon Topping [from Manchester band A Certain Ratio] appeared on the cover of the NME, I died a thousand deaths of sorrow and lay down in the woods to die."

From his autobiography.

13. ON WRITING HIT SONGS

“If you really concentrate on the Top 40 there aren’t really many striking individuals so it is rather easy within that block to be semi anarchic.”

From a 1988 interview in Sounds.

14. ON HIS REPUTATION

"Whenever I'd overhear how people found me to be 'a bit much' (which is the gentle way of saying the word 'unbearable'), I understood why. To myself I would say: Well, yes of course I'm a bit much—if I weren't, I would not be lit up by so many lights."

From his autobiography

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February 20, 2014 - 5:00pm
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