Album: The Smiths
. . .
What a terrible mess I’ve made of my life
And so, it came to pass that I purchased the purchased the eponymous debut album by The Smiths in early 1984. At the time, of course, I had no idea that what I held in my hands was actually their second attempt at recording it, having scrapped the original version as produced by Troy Tate.
And while John Porter’s production on The Smiths is kind of suspect, I think it’s still better than what they recorded with Troy Tate, as well as the BBC versions of the same songs that ended up on Hatful of Hollow later in the year. Your mileage may vary.
Actually the most confusing thing for me at the time was the credits for cover star Joe Dallesandro, which was a still from Andy Warhol’s Flesh. I’d of course, heard of Warhol, possibly had heard of Flesh, but the credit also pointed out that Flesh was directed by someone named Paul Morrissey. And I wondered if he was related to the single-named Morrissey who wrote all the words for the record.
In any event, I put the record on my turntable, expecting more uptempo jams like “This Charming Man” and “What Difference Does it Make?” and was more than a little bit surprised to be immediately confronted with “Reel Around The Fountain,” a long, slow six-minute dirge featuring piano (most certainly not “pianner”) by Paul Carrack.
That said, while I came to love “Reel Around The Fountain” (how could I resist “people said you were easily led / and they were half-right”), I initially preferred the second track, “You’ve Got Everything Now,” which clangs in with an off-kilter Johnny Marr riff that actually plays second-fiddle to a great Andy Rourke bassline on the verses, where Morrissey is vocalizing about another relationship gone wrong.
As merry as the days were long
I was right and you were wrong
Back at the old grey school
I would win and you would lose
But you’ve got everything now
You’ve got everything now
And what a terrible mess I’ve made of my life
Oh, what a mess I’ve made of my life
I’ll say this: Morrissey was still figuring out the whole singing thing on The Smiths. Which, sometimes, was part of the charm: this guy felt these things so hard, it didn’t matter! While there were some really good performances, there were also some that weren’t. And I’d put his singing on “You’ve Got Everything Now” squarely in the second category. I will be praising Morrissey’s singing a lot in the next month, I promise. If you were going to look for reasons to dislike The Smiths, his singing on this and “Miserable Lie” could be exhibits A & B. (The falsetto on “Miserable Lie” is an excellent idea executed poorly.)
So why is “You’ve Got Everything Now” one of my favorite songs on The Smiths? Two words: Johnny Marr. After keeping his hidden during the initial verses, Marr’s guitar absolutely explodes into the choruses:
No, I’ve never had a job
Because I’ve never wanted one
I’ve seen you smile
But I’ve never really heard you laugh
So who is rich and who is poor?
I cannot say… oh
You are your mother’s only son
And you’re a desperate one
But I don’t want a lover
I just want to be seen… oh…
In the back of your car
It’s an incredibly long chorus, but with a boost from a shiny atmospheric organ from aforementioned Mr. Carrack, Marr’s army of guitars swirl and twinkle and shine like backing vocalists, and it’s just fucking lovely as hell. And he even adds more to it after the second chorus, when Morrissey swaps out “seen in the back of your car” with “tied oooh to the back of your car” and starts crooning “to the back or your car” over and over again in falsetto, as you do.
But it doesn’t matter, because Marr’s licks at the end of the song are so spot-on — piling on even more hooks at the last-second — everything else was forgiven.
“You’ve Got Everything Now”
“You’ve Got Everything Now” Live 1983
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