“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths (The Queen Is Dead, 1986)
While doing research for our upcoming London Suede “Dog Man Star” review it reminded me of The Smiths and their two main creative forces, Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Also, The Smiths were huge influences on Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson, and many Brit Pop artists in general.
I was introduced to the band in the early 1990’s my junior year of high school by my good friend and classmate Dave Lacina who matter-of-fact informed me that these guys were the Beatles of the 1980’s. I remember thinking to myself “then why haven’t I heard of these guys before if they’re like the Beatles?” since I’d become aware of the Fab Four when I was a small kid through my dad and society at large celebrating them.
So off I went to see what Smiths I could scare up at my favorite used record store “The Record Collector” which I’ve cited numerous times on the podcast, and lo and behold they had “The Queen is Dead” on LP. I forked over my money and took the record home to check out. While I thought it to be good, I heard nothing as immediate as the Beatles. Plus this guy singing sounded kind of ill to me. But the one song that I liked immediately, and forever after from that day forward was this one.
It starts off immediately with the strumming guitar of Marr and Morrissey starts singing about “taking him out tonight where there’s people and their young and their light. Driving in your car, I never, never want to go home” It captures the spirit of youth and wanting to fit in and get away from your domestic situation with a friend or even a person you’re attracted to.
By the second verse he just wants to go anywhere and be with the object of his affection as he wrestles with the fear of rejection. Which at that age was something most folks my age were grappling with.
The song takes a macabre turn when he starts talking about “And if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die. And if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us, the pleasure the privilege is mine!” But the way he sings it, as the string section swells, is quite inviting and even sweet. The outro where he sings “There Is A Light It Never Goes Out!” over-and-over takes the production into the next realm and made this an all-time classic for me.