Posts Tagged ‘The Smiths’

I have neither listened to The Smiths recently, nor have I read much poetry lately, but for some inexplicable reason I’ve had in my head for a while the notion that Morrissey & co. (sorry, Johnny Marr, to lump you in under ‘…& co’) were channeling good old T.S. Eliot on The Queen is Dead.  More specifically, every time I listen to the title track to said (marvelous) album, I take it as almost self-evident that the mope-rockers intended to reference Eliot’s landmark poem “The Hollow Men.”

Thus goes a fair chunk of the final section of “The Hollow Men”:

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

Anyway, I’ll stop it there, which is right before the end, with the banging, and the whimpering.  I’ve just about had enough of this poem being misused to talk about this being either quiet or noisy, so instead I’ll use it to talk about indie rock.  Yes?  Yes.

Right, so the title track of The Smiths’ album fades out (sort of) with Morrissey singing:

Life is very long /
When you’re lonely

Now, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that I’m being completely ridiculous.  It’s just four words in the song (“life is very long”) that I’m taking as some kind of incontrovertible proof that this band, in that song, is making a sly nudge towards that poem.  Granted, this isn’t outside the realm of possibility; it’s obviously a quite famous poem, and The Smiths’ version of rainy day indie rock was always highly literate.  Still, I can’t now shake the nagging feeling that I’m just casting around inside my head for some tenuous connection, or at least trying to reverse engineer a justificatory link for whatever trivia-corrupted nonsense my brain spews up.

I suppose the moral of the story is: Read more poetry, and type fewer words.  It’s probably all for the best; The Smiths seem more like the J. Alfred Prufrock types, anyhow.

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