As much as we love the Mozzer’s best solo moments, especially his happier songs, nothing compares to the work he did with The Smiths—the immortal mope-rock band whose songs epitomized lyrical literacy and musical jangle. They were such an astounding band that they turned even Noel Gallagher into a fanboy.
The Manchester band only released four albums together before imploding, but their work together remains some of the most timeless and cultish. Here then are the 10 best songs by The Smiths.
10. “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
One of three Queen Is Dead songs on this list, “Bigmouth” features a nice anachronistic lyric about Joan of Arc and a Walkman. The song rocks fairly hard by Smiths standards; a colleague recently told me that “Morrissey actually growls on the live version off Rank then played me the clip. (Sure enough, he does.)
This song is a highlight among highlights on Louder Than Bombs, in which our narrator spends “warm summer days indoors / writing frightening verse to a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg.
8. “Rusholme Ruffians”
This underrated Meat Is Murder track makes our list for three reasons—Johnny Marr’s jangly guitar, Morrissey’s schoolboy angst and the hopelessly romantic lyric, “I might walk home alone / but my faith in love is still devout”
7. “Girlfriend in a Coma”
This vicious two-minute pop song that leaves you reeling.
6. “How Soon Is Now”
Thanks to Marr’s epic riff, this may be the most widely known Smiths song amongst the general public. For a band that specialized in intimacy, “How Soon” works surprisingly well as an ’80s anthem.
I’ve always wanted a radio show with this as my theme song. Bonus points if you can watch the video without vomiting.
4. “This Charming Man”
The single-best showcase for Marr’s guitar?
3. “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”
That heartbreaking melody! Those pleading lyrics! The song’s mix of confidence and insecurity would seem utterly peculiar if The Smiths didn’t make it such a franchise.
2. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
A song that defines The Smiths’ whole ethos, musically and lyrically.
1. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
The greatest, most quotable morbid love song in human history. All together now: “And if a 10-ton truck kills the both of us / To die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.”