Song of the Day #364: ‘Rubber Ring’ – The Smiths

louderthanbombsThe Smiths released a lot of non-album singles and B-sides during their first few years, as well as a couple of Britain-only compilation albums. In 1987, American record company Sire Records compiled all of those tracks and released them in the U.S. on a double album titled Louder Than Bombs.

Only a couple of these tunes can be considered throwaways: a syrupy cover of Twinkle’s ‘Golden Lights’ and instrumental track ‘Oscillate Wildly.’ The rest are solid enough to make this collection of 24 odds and ends an unofficial fifth Smiths studio album.

Among the gems on Louder Than Bombs are the 2-minute tearjerker ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,’ which has found a home on several Gen-X movie soundtracks; popular singles ‘Sheila Take a Bow’ and ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’; and the woe-is-me gem ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.’

My favorite Louder Than Bombs track, though, is ‘Rubber Ring,’ a charming mid-tempo rocker about falling in (and out) of love with music. Morrissey pleads that the listener not “forget the songs that made you smile and the songs that made you cry” because “they were the only ones who ever stood by you.”

As somebody who spent countless hours lying in my room with headphones on picking over the details of songs I no longer find time for, this track sure hits home. One thing I love about writing this blog is that it gives me the chance to indulge in that sort of unabashed fandom again.

As for the title, I always assumed it referred to the ring you put on a record player to allow for the playing of 45s. I’ve seen others suggest that it refers to a lifesaving flotation device (apparently called ‘rubber rings’ in England). I suppose it could be both.

A sad fact widely known
The most impassionate song
To a lonely soul
Is so easily outgrown
But don’t forget the songs
That made you smile
And the songs that made you cry
When you lay in awe
On the bedroom floor
And said : “Oh, oh, smother me Mother…”
No …
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

The passing of time
And all of its crimes
Is making me sad again
The passing of time
And all of its sickening crimes
Is making me sad again
But don’t forget the songs
That made you cry
And the songs that saved your life
Yes, you’re older now
And you’re a clever swine
But they were the only ones who ever stood by you

The passing of time leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled
The passing of time
Leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled
I’m here with the cause
I’m holding the torch
In the corner of your room
Can you hear me?
And when you’re dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head
And think of me kindly

No …
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring
No …
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

Do you love me like you used to ?
Oh…
Rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring, rubber ring

7 thoughts on “Song of the Day #364: ‘Rubber Ring’ – The Smiths

  1. Dana says:

    By the end of this song, I’m ready to tie a rubber ring around Morrisey’s neck! Man, is that an annoying ending!

    And I find the song to be exactly what I dislike about the Smiths–it’s arrogant and self-indulgent–“Oh, you poor worthless sheep with your empty lives, looking to me to fulfill it with my brilliant music…Do you love me like you used to?”

    No, Morrisey–go f___ yourself!

    Mahalo πŸ™‚

  2. Clay says:

    I might just have to extend this to Smiths month for your sake. πŸ™‚

  3. pegclifton says:

    I think the rubber ring is a call for help like the flotation device you described above. Gee Dana, you are hard on these poor guys. πŸ™‚

  4. Kerrie says:

    I see Hawai’i has had a truly calming influence on Dana. πŸ™‚ It makes me wonder if this Smiths week was actually an experiment by Clay to see if Dana’s agitation around the theme artist would be tempered in any way by his environment in an island paradise. Clearly, the environment has had no tempering effect…. Interesting.

    I have to say, the ending of the song is a little much for me, too. I think I would have preferred hearing β€˜Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,’ but then again, it’s not my blog. πŸ™‚

  5. Amy says:

    His voice is particularly grating in this song. And I wasn’t hating the song until I read Dana’s comment just before hearing (and reading) the last part of this song. Wow! How obnoxious. It’s one thing to think about the music that made an impact on you but then to go and blatantly make the point that your music is doing the same…. yikes. Give me the Indigo Girls’ “Virginia Woolf” or something like it any day. Still, I like the jaunty music in the first half of the song πŸ™‚

  6. Clay says:

    I wouldn’t assume he is singing as himself… “Do you love me like you used to?” is the cry of all those forgotten songs.

    Of course, Morrissey is a spectacular blend of self-loathing and massive ego so it could go either way.

  7. Clay says:

    It occurs to me that the two artists I’ve written about with the biggest gap between my love for them and most of my readers’ loathing for them are The Smiths and Rufus Wainwright.

    So my inner gay man is really taking a beating!

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