“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have Bon Jovi as a member.”
– Groucho Marx
On April 14, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct several worthwhile acts and Bon Jovi. Over the next few weeks, Tunes du Jour will spotlight artists that are eligible for induction (i.e. they commercially released their debut recording at least 25 years ago), but have not been inducted as they are not as talented, innovative or influential as Bon Jovi.
Today we look at and listen to The Smiths. They sounded nothing like their mid-eighties contemporaries, creating songs that appealed to those who felt like outsiders, when in reality those people were humans with a need to be loved, just like everybody else. Lyrically the songs displayed wit and vulnerability and expressed feelings of loneliness and longing in ways never heard before in pop music. These lyrics were coupled with Johnny Marr’s fresh guitar riffs, hooks that worked their way into your head and never left, that often worked as the musical opposites of what was being sung.
The Smiths influenced and continue to influence countless indie rock artists. The way their songs played with traditional male roles opened the door to LGBTQ acts whose lyrics conveyed an openness toward sexuality, even though Morrissey, The Smiths’ singer and lyricist, has never publicly come out. Their songs are smart, with literary references one need not get to enjoy. However, they never sang anything like “I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known / Like a blind dog without a bone / I was a gypsy lost in the twilight zone / I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold.” Do you know who did? Bon Jovi.
Here are twenty of The Smiths’ finest tunes.