Johnny Marr

Still Ill

The Smiths – Still Ill

Next up on my concert calendar is Johnny Marr. I never posted an entry about the time I saw him 4 1/2 years ago but I did write it down and I’m just so excited about the show, that tonight I went back and reread it. I don’t want to post the whole thing because that feels weird this much later but the concert exceeded my expectations last time and let’s just be honest, it’s because of all the Smiths songs he played. I like his solo material and if he didn’t bust out any Smiths songs, it would still be a good show. However, those songs, they are not just songs.

One of the things that strikes me as I read what I wrote, my emotions were on full display at that show and I just let it happen. I think I was caught off guard. When he played Panic as the second song, I was really not ready. It came so early! The crowd responded with cheers and dancing, and everyone sang along. I am normally not someone who condones audience members joining in for anything but the most obvious of performer encouraged participation, but you didn’t know how badly you wanted to be in a room full of people singing, “Burn down the disco, hang the blessed dj, because the music they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life…” until you were doing it. Likewise with Headmaster Ritual and Bigmouth Strikes Again.

Since The Smiths broke up while I was in college, it’s not like there are albums from my early adult years to muddy the waters. All of their songs are a perfect little time capsule of those mid-80s, highly angst-ridden and lovelorn years. And so it was when I finally got to hear songs like Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, or How Soon is Now, I was overcome by a wave of feelings that I hadn’t felt in decades. When he played Still Ill, I’m here to tell you that it was like the old days and that night, the body definitely ruled the mind as tears and sweat dripped down my face in equal measure while I danced the same way I used to in my dorm room. The last song of the night? There is a Light That Never Goes Out. I was toast.

So this time, I am aware. I won’t say I’m prepared because those songs, and the memories and emotions that are tied to them, are strong enough to knock me off my feet. In a good way. Now. I like going to shows and having my breath taken away. I love to be reminded of the power of music and to feel it, truly, physically feel it. Maybe he won’t play that many of the old songs and it’ll just be a show. Or maybe he’ll play Ask and Half a Person or The Boy with the Thorn in His Side, and I’ll be toast all over again.

Day In Day Out

Johnny Marr – Day In Day Out

Yesterday I stayed up super late trying to finish something and the next thing I knew, it was 1:30 a.m. Without a post brewing in my mind from earlier in the day, I decided I would have to just skip it for a day. I am about to call it a night here but I did think I could manage to post something for the last official NaBloPoMo day. Perhaps I’ll keep up posting a little more now that I’m back in the swing of things. I did have an idea for a longer post but I didn’t have time to work on it so maybe soon.

Easy Money

Johnny Marr – Easy Money

Johnny Marr is coming out with a third album. I’m not sure when or anything about it really, but I am here for it. I really liked The Messenger and Playland, his previous two, so I have hope that it will be great and he’ll hit the road again.

It’s been just about three years since I saw him live and I would go again in a heartbeat. I don’t think I ever wrote about that show here but I did write it down at the time so I wouldn’t forget the details. Maybe I’ll resurrect that and make a post. I have a bunch of ideas for posts but then it gets to be night time and I’m tired and not focused enough to write what I want to write.

This Tension

Johnny Marr – This Tension

In a couple of days I’ll be seeing Johnny Marr. That’s right, Johnny Fuckin’ Marr. With each passing day I get more excited. I need this. I’ve been listening to his two solo albums while I’m working to prep for it and hoping that we don’t get sidelined by some freak November snow storm.

I’ve seen videos of him playing How Soon is Now and Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before from earlier stops on the tour. I’m just going to admit it. If he plays How Soon is Now, or Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, or There is a Light That Never Goes Out, or Ask, or probably just about any of the Smiths songs it’s likely he might pull out, I will be a teary mess. To see the man himself playing those songs that have been ringing in my ears for more than 25 years…

I’ve written about Johnny Marr before and I can’t remember now why I didn’t go see him when he toured the US last year but when I learned he’d be touring for his new album Playland, I didn’t want to miss it again. Luckily I live in the northeast and he’s playing several venues within a reasonable distance* of where I live. Just remind me to buy some new tires over the weekend.

I know it won’t be a Smiths concert. I don’t want it to be. But I do want my head to be filled with that undeniable Johnny Marr sound. I want to hear these new songs and have that swirling feeling when the music is all around you, palpable, moving your hair and giving you goosebumps.

* A reasonable distance in my book is anything not requiring a flight.

New Town Velocity

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.   [edited 9/18/13 to say, I knew it wouldn’t be allowed to stand. They’ve been ordered to take it down.]