Ian Brown on ‘Barbarism Begins At Home’: My favourite Smiths track because that bassline is what Andy would’ve been playing when he was about 14. That Morrissey sang with his own accent was a big deal. Obviously, the lyrics are great. The way that he arranges his songs… no one else arranges their songs like that. He repeats lines, but each one’s got a different melody.
Beth Ditto of The Gossip on ‘Shiela Take A Bow’: It reminds you that you do have a place where you belong and this song hits the nail on the head. It’s rare for a man to sing about a woman this way. To let you know that you’re not alone is empowering for me and I think it’s important in music to alienate the alienators and for the alienated to feel comfortable.
Brandon Flowers of The Killers on ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’: ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’ is the best Smiths song – it lit a fire in me when I heard it. I loved it immediately.
Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance on ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’: It’s the bleakest one. It’s even bleaker than ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ which I used to think was the bleakest. Waking up with the feeling described in ‘Last Night…’ is the worst feeling in the world. It takes the cake for bleakness.
Brett Anderson on ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’: This track perfectly captures The Smiths’ dark beauty and brooding soul. They went on to make better records, possibly the LP of the decade in ‘The Queen Is Dead’, but those early moments like ‘Reel Around The Fountain’ are still special.
Craig Finn of The Hold Steady on ‘Half A Person’: That song and ‘Lost In The Supermarket’ by The Clash, where Mick Jones talks about the fence in the suburbs over which he couldn’t see, remind me of when I was a kid and I knew there was something else out there, but I didn’t know what it was.
Devendra Banhard on ‘Asleep’: Any time in my life that I felt that it might be the end, when I’ve felt like I’m in some sort of life-threatening situation, I go to ‘Asleep’, and I get lost in it. It submerges me, enfolds me. It’s the most embryonic feeling. It’s almost like being chained to freedom.
Andy Rourke on ‘The Headmaster Ritual’: This one has always been a favourite of mine. Whenever we performed it live, it was a joy. It always went down really well. I remember doing it on [BBC2’s] Oxford Road Show [February 1985]. That’s when we first aired it.
Suggs on ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’: The idea of all these shoplifters uniting was an image only Morrissey could have come up with. The idea that everyone could take a little bit for themselves if they didn’t have too much. Quotes in this gallery come courtesy of our friends at Uncut.
Dan Gillespie of The Feeling on ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’: Morrissey sings, “Behind the hatred, there lies a murderous desire for love”. He ends with some of the most delicious yodelling he’s ever put on record. It has all the elements of a perfect Smiths song.
Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie on ‘Frankly My Shankly’: Lyrically, it’s so typically Morrissey: narcissistic and insecure, craving fame and adulation while at the same time questioning if he’s up to the task of being an idol. Musically I like the offbeat upstroke, it’s quite audacious. It’s not everybody’s favourite Smiths song, but I like the way it sits on the album.
Billy Bragg on ‘Back to the Old House’: This was the song that convinced me that Morrissey and Marr were geniuses. I love it because the tune is to die for and the lyric manages to convey in two verses what it takes me five verses and a trumpet solo to say in ‘The Saturday Boy’.
Mike Joyce on ‘Hand In Glove’: This was the first record I’d played on that I’d have gone out and bought. I recall listening back to it over speakers for the first time and being shocked. I thought I’d just recorded the best record I’d ever heard in my life.
Preston of The Ordinary Boys on ‘Rubber Ring’: Obviously everyone knows Morrissey is a great lyricist, but his unique singing style is underrated. On ‘Rubber Ring’ he sings a weird, polyrhythmic counterpoint to the guitar part and it’s incredible, unlike anything that had come before.
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers on ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’: I distinctly remember them playing this on The Old Grey Whistle Test. It stuck with me. It was a brilliant sound and they looked incredible; I thought they were like the indie Stones.
Bernard Butler on ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’: The song is delicate but celebratory. It’s life affirming. I can’t remember where I was when loads of important historical events occurred, but I know exactly where I was when I first heard ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ on The John Peel Show.
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand on ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’: It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, probably the best reaction you can get from a piece of music.
Luke Pritchard of The Kooks on ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’: It’s an underrated Smiths song. The beginning is quite progressive, then it becomes a simple, classic guitar pop song. It defines the sound that most people refer to as ‘indie’. The lyric is typical Morrissey. He’s singing about his favourite subject – himself – with that trademark wit.
James Mercer of The Shins on ‘Cemetry Gates’: I bought ‘The Queen Is Dead’ soon after I got to the UK and it was a big deal for me. At the time I was craving something that expressed that sense of melancholy. It was so gentle. I needed somebody to just be accepting of me – you felt that the guy singing this song wouldn’t judge you.
Richard Hawley on ‘Handsome Devil’: A great pop song. What I loved about them was that it was like listening to an endless chorus. To me, The Smiths were as far away from one-hit wonders as you could get. Quotes in this gallery come courtesy of our friends at Uncut.
Steve Diggle of Buzzcocks on ‘I Know It’s Over’: It touches on the depths of despair in that human, Smiths way. Whether you listen to that in a bedsit or a fairy palace, it still hits you. It’s straight to the point. Only Morrissey could get away with that. The Smiths were never depressing to me. If you don’t get The Smiths, you don’t get life itself.
Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs on ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’: This song is a perfect example of their humour. The line “Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know, it’s serious” isn’t funny like a joke, but it makes you laugh. They’re not flowering anything up, it’s conversational, and I think that’s why they appealed to so many people.
Ryan Adams on ‘This Night Has Opened My Eves’: The Smiths have these melancholy melodies that just resonate. It sounds pretty and sad at the same time, yet also very urgent. They don’t sound like anything else. My folks’ generation had The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but to me The Smiths are my Beatles and my Rolling Stones. That one band covers it all for me.
Mani of Primal Scream and The Stone Roses on ‘Panic’: ‘Panic’ is one of the best pop songs of the last 30 years. All my favourite songs usually make me want to dance or sing along and this makes me want to do both. I remember listening to it over and over with a big bag of weed, dreaming of forming a band and doing it myself.
Kurt Wagner of Lambchop on ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’: The moment I hear the opening chords it never ceases to put a smile on my face. Whenever I played ‘Heaven…’ it was like the whole band coming together to create this alchemic piece of pop just for me!
Noel Gallagher on ‘This Charming Man’: The Smiths were my band. The sound of that guitar intro was incredible. The lyrics are fuckin’ amazing, too. “I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear”. Genius. I didn’t know anything about the literary references. I just liked the spirit.
Kele on ‘What Difference Does It Make’: ‘What Difference…’ is quite obviously about someone falling in love with a friend of the same sex and that’s quite risqué subject matter for a pop song. The song probably influenced me in the way Morrissey chronicles desire and its ugliness and desperation.
Russell Brand on ‘There Is A Light That Never Ges Out’: With ‘There Is A Light…’, I can’t think of another lyricist who can use humour without compromising pathos. And I can’t think of anyone else who could have used that “10-ton truck” line. It sounds laughable, but still sounds beautiful. The marriage of sentiment and humour is perfect.
Carl Barât of Dirty Pretty Things on ‘The Queen Is Dead’: Hilarious yet damning, and delivered seemingly off the cuff: the very definition of wit. Morrissey is taking his voice where it’s never been before, somewhere angry. The fury of the guitars is matched only by that bile-flecked delivery.
Peter Buck of R.E.M. on ‘How Soon Is Now’: It’s a great ensemble piece, with the four musicians all playing together really well. It’s evocative and kind of eerie. ‘How Soon Is Now’ is very un-Smithslike. Quotes in this gallery come courtesy of our friends at Uncut.