Johnny Marr – New Town Velocity
Every once in a while the “recommended for you” videos that show up on YouTube if I’m logged in are actually very welcome suggestions. This was the one I was presented with yesterday and I’ve listened to it a lot already.
I’m sure I heard it earlier this year when Johnny Marr’s album The Messenger came out but I didn’t have the time then to really listen to it. There’s something about this track, more so than the previous singles, that has a very distinct Johnny Marr sound to it. And I am a sucker for that Johnny Marr signature guitar.
I think sometimes it may be too easy to hang the influence the Smiths had on me, and many other people, on Morrissey’s contribution to the band. It’s true, I can speak or write entirely in Smiths quotes* off the top of my head and I know I’m not the only one of my friends who can do that. Rob Sheffield wrote nearly a whole chapter of his book Talking to Girls About Duran Duran in Smiths quotes and paraphrases. We may all be spending warm summer days indoors writing frightening verse to a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg but it’s Johnny’s guitar that instantly hooks us with those first four notes on “Ask.” “Oscillate Wildly” had as much yearning to it as the other songs without any lyrics at all. The Smiths were as great as they were because it was both the music and lyrics coming together at the perfect time.
I listened to Morrissey’s first couple of solo albums and went to see him on I guess it was the Kill Uncle tour (since I never got the chance to see the Smiths live), but it wasn’t the same. It was missing Johnny Marr. And let’s be honest, Morrissey is nearly a caricature of himself at this point. While Morrissey spent the past year cancelling show after show, Johnny Marr’s been showing up at festivals and elsewhere and just rocking without any of the drama. Morrissey may be the last of the famous international playboys, but he’d probably be completely unknown to most people if Johnny Marr hadn’t knocked on his door.
* By now you’ve all seen this, and it may seem to belie the point I’m trying to make here but it’s just so great. http://thischarmingcharlie.tumblr.com/ [edited 9/18/13 to say, I knew it wouldn’t be allowed to stand. They’ve been ordered to take it down.]