>> Friday, January 11, 2013
Now that is a classic opening riff. Classic if you're of a certain age. (My age, which is now too old; a little older, a little younger.) That's the sound of Johnny Marr coming home.
How'd I miss this? The clip was posted in November, though the album won't be out 'til this coming February. (That's how they do it these days. The single's leaked to the Internet, goes up on YouTube or a webblog or maybe even iTunes four to six months before the record comes out. They used to keep moratoriums and embargoes on music, you'd hear it when it finally came out--or maybe a week early if you were very, very good.) But I did miss it, and now I'm kicking myself. This is very good Marr, shiny and shimmery. You can almost imagine Steven crooning over it that no one will ever, ever love him, much less understand his poetry--
Which in some ways is a shame, granted. The Smiths have been gone far longer than they were ever together, and it seems likely to stay that way, and maybe for the best. It has to be a terrible burden to have a ghost clinging to you your whole life like that, everyone wondering about your old band, the one you were in before the whole entire rest of your career and life happened.
This being the irony of The Guardian piece that introduced me to the above video; the whole thing is about how Johnny Marr has moved on from The Smiths, but since you're not allowed to move on from something like The Smiths, it ends up being a whole article about The Smiths. Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily: it's a pretty good profile, actually. It's just that when we talk about The Smiths being a ghost, we must mean a ghost in the same way a black hole is a ghost: a star burns for awhile, it collapses and dies and becomes something invisible and hidden and yet so infinitely there that it will pull in every single thing that comes near it and nothing that gets pulled in will ever come back out again. Johnny Marr is no longer in The Smiths, The Smiths, The Smiths; The Smiths (The Smiths, The Smiths) don't talk to one another and The Smiths, The Smiths, The Smiths will never reunite and play together again; The Smiths (Smiths, Smiths) are dead, long live The Smiths (The Smiths, Smiths).
A bit like all those Paul McCartney interviews where they still want to talk to him about The Beatles, poor thing.
It may be the stretching and tearing effect of the black hole's proximity that causes The Guardian to keep on saying the new record is Marr's first solo effort, though. "Johnny Marr And The Healers" released a record in 2003, which had some cuts I liked though I never listened to the whole thing. I guess it didn't do well enough for anyone to want to remember it, or maybe Guardian is relying on the technicality that Johnny Marr And The Healers would be a band (though I wonder if this rule applies to Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, et al.). Whatever. I guess this is nitpicking, sort of, and (besides) I'm not about to begrudge Mr. Marr whatever promo value he gets in calling The Messenger his first solo record as opposed to "his second album in ten years", which isn't as exciting (he isn't Kate Bush, after all).
I look forward to hearing more from it.