Song of the Day #1,403: ‘The Queen is Dead’ – The Smiths

Best Albums of the 80s – #4
The Queen is Dead – The Smiths (1986)

I think I just heard Dana’s head explode. Yes, more Smiths!

The Smiths released only four studio albums (among many compilations) and The Queen is Dead is by far the best of them. On this record, they tied everything together perfectly: the pathos, the humor, Johnny Marr’s shimmering guitar and Morrissey’s incomparable vocals.

The record pairs up comical ditties like ‘Frankly Mr. Shankly’ and ‘Vicar in a Tutu’ with emotional epics like ‘I Know It’s Over’ and ‘Never Had No One Ever.’ Some songs are both comical and emotional, such as ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out,’ in which Morrissey croons “If a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.”

I believe all great albums have great opening tracks and The Queen is Dead‘s title song is a fine example. It opens with a sample from a 60s British film in which a character sings the World War I song ‘Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty’ before Mike Joyce’s frantic drums fade in and lead us to Morrissey’s angry-funny anti-royalty screed.

The song takes some shots at the ruling class but also contains one of my favorite self-deprecating Morrissey lines, when the queen tells him “I know you and you cannot sing” and he replies “That’s nothing, you should hear me play piano.”

(Oh! Take me back to dear old Blighty,
Put me on the train for London Town,
Take me anywhere,
Drop me anywhere,
Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham
But I don’t care,
I should like to see my…)

I don’t bless them
Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between archers
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing

I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil ?
Oh …
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the 18th pale descendant
Of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed ?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed ?

Some 9-year old tough who peddles drugs
I swear to God
I swear : I never even knew what drugs were
Oh …
So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said : “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said : “That’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No-one talks about castration
Oh …

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty
Oh, these are the things that kill me

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair …
Oh, these are the things that kill me

All their lies about make-up and long hair, are still there

Past the Pub who saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Past the Pub that wrecks your body
And the church – all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Life is very long, when you’re lonely

About these ads

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,403: ‘The Queen is Dead’ – The Smiths

  1. Dana says:

    Ka-boom! Head has indeed exploded.

    For me, it’s really all about how much I dislike Morrisey’s voice. Take that out of this song, and I hear a very cool bass line reminiscent of Duran Duran’s “Rio,”

    It truly is hard for me to fathom how you could rank this album over something as wonderful as yesterday’s Full Moon Fever, but to each their own.

  2. Amy says:

    Ditto! ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s