Very few bands of the past 30 years have had the impact of the Smiths. Part of their lasting influence stems from the band's timeless music -- particularly guitarist Johnny Marr's ringing riffs. But so much of the group's still-devoted following live by the gospel according to Morrissey. Whether reminiscing on a scarring incident from his past or musing on another lonely night, the sly and wickedly funny frontman pretty much has a lock on words that stab at the heart of their subjects. Here are the 10 Best Smiths Lyrics.
'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me'
"Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me / No hope but no harm / Just another false alarm."
Oh, how Morrissey loves to mope and sink into despairing depths of self-pity. On this long, maudlin ballad from the Smiths' final album, 'Strangeways, Here We Come,' he sums up his outlook on love and life. Essentially, he sighs away any expectations -- as if he had any in the first place. 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me' was the band's last single.
"If you have five seconds to spare, then I'll tell you the story of my life / Sixteen, clumsy and shy / That's the story of my life."
Morrissey fills us in on "the story of [his] life" in this B side to the 1987 single 'Shoplifters of the World Unite.' Not so surprisingly, it all comes down to his awkward teenage years, which he still doesn't seem to be over.
"If you're so funny, then why are you on your own tonight? / And if you're so clever, then why are you on your own tonight? / If you're so very entertaining, then why are you on your own tonight? / If you're so very good-looking, why do you sleep alone tonight?"
This track from the Smiths' third album, 1986's 'The Queen Is Dead,' is open to interpretation. But 'I Know It's Over' is most likely about unrequited love and subsequent heartbreak, a common subject.
"If there's something you'd like to try / Ask me, I won't say no / How could I?"
Like most of the band's songs (especially those on our list of the 10 Best Smiths Lyrics), 'Ask' features several great lines, including "If it's not love then it's the bomb that will bring us together" and that portion about the "bucktoothed girl in Luxembourg." We're going with the chorus because it reveals Morrissey's sympathetic side. Enjoy it while you can.
"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.'"
The Smiths' second single nods to the past, when gay culture was less obvious than it is now (or in 1983, when 'This Charming Man' was released). Morrissey's sexuality has been a debated topic ever since the Smiths' first songs. He wisely neither confirmed nor denied rumors.
'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'
"I was looking for a job, and then I found a job / And heaven knows, I'm miserable now / In my life, why do I give valuable time to people who don't care if I live or die?"
If any Smiths song sums up Morrissey's worldview in a five-word title, it's 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.' Some Smiths songs can be maddening in their subtlety; this 1984 single isn't one of them. Unless you count the line about Caligula.
'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out'
"If a double-decker bus crashes into us / To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die / And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / To die by your side, the pleasure, the privilege is mine."
This is Morrissey's idea of a love song, and what a grand statement it is. As always, he's sarcastic, pointed and depressed. But is that a smattering of happiness we catch in his resignation? Frankly, we'd prefer dying in our sleep or in a manner that doesn't involve a 20,000-pound vehicle. To each his own.
"Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ."
Of all the cuts on our list of the 10 Best Smiths Lyrics, 'Panic' -- from a 1986 single -- is the one that became a rallying cry for college-rock music fans. Allegedly based, at least partly, on the BBC's enthusiastic embrace of Wham! and other pop artists, and Morrissey's subsequent disgust, 'Panic' peaks with its calls to "burn down the disco." It's the closest the Smiths got to a revolution.
"There were times when I could have strangled her / But you know, I would hate anything to happen to her."
Morrissey has a reputation as a gloomy, morose, self-pitying sarcastic ass. And he deserves it. But he's also funny. Like really funny. 'Girlfriend in a Coma,' from the Smiths' last album, is hilarious. His girl is near death, but, you know, he never really meant all those bad things he said about her -- like all those times he wished she was dead. Like we said, hilarious.
"I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar/ I am the son and heir of the nothing in particular."
Like so many of the songs on our list of the 10 Best Smiths Lyrics (and so many we had to leave off), 'How Soon Is Now?' is stuffed with great lines. But we like the song's opening one the best. By the time Morrissey gets to the part about going home alone and wanting to die, you know it's coming.