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Ambivalence, unease and The Smiths
Sean Campbell

This chapter explores The Smiths as a form of second-generation Irish music-making, viewing their work as an 'Irish-English' musical 'route'. Accounts of the second-generation Irish in England detail the ambivalence that this generation has felt towards both the host culture and the ethnic 'home'. Certain Irish critics have set out to detect, in The Smiths' work, quintessentially Irish qualities. Moreover, at key points in The Smiths' career, Morrissey made it clear that his lyrical ideas had been shaped by the marginality he had experienced as a second-generation Irish youth. The opening lines of 'Never Had No One Ever' are striking in this regard. The singer's most noted homage to Wilde, in The Smiths' song 'Cemetry Gates' provides a clue to his position on Irish/English affairs. In this respect, The Smiths' address to 'outsiderness' went beyond the tropes of ambivalence and unease, pointing to a more enabling conception of marginality.

in Why pamper life's complexities?
Essays on The Smiths

This book seeks to offer a rather wider frame of analysis than is typically adopted in accounts of the nature and significance of The Smiths. It focuses on the Catholic and broader religious dimensions of The Smiths. The book explores the theme of suicide in the songs of The Smiths. It also seeks to examine how the kitchen-sink dramas of the early 1960s influenced Morrissey's writing. The book proposes that beyond the literal references in his lyrics there lies a sensibility at the heart of these films akin to the one found in his poetic impulse. The book expands the argument with some concluding thoughts on how cinema has 'returned the favour' by employing The Smiths' songs in various ways. It examines the particular forms of national identity that are imagined in the work of The Smiths. The book ranges from class, sexuality, Catholicism, and Thatcherism to musical poetics and fandom. It then focuses on lyrics, interviews, the city of Manchester, cultural iconography, and the cult of Morrissey. The distinctive sense of Englishness that pervades the lyrics, interviews, and cover art of the band is located within a specific tradition of popular culture from which they have drawn and to which they have contributed a great deal. The book breaches the standard confines of music history, rock biography, and pop culture studies to give a sustained critical analysis of the band that is timely and illuminating.

An introduction to the book
Sean Campbell and Colin Coulter

Amid the ascent and ubiquity of dance music in the early 1990s, The Smiths-who had disbanded acrimoniously in 1987, appeared to have become deeply unfashionable. The fading reputation of The Smiths during the 1990s might, therefore, be attributed to the actions of fans and critics alike. The advent of the twenty-first century has signalled a remarkable reversal in the fortunes of The Smiths. The resurgence of guitar-based music, heralded by bands like The Strokes and The Libertines, has ensured that the Manchester group is now deeply fashionable, even more so perhaps than in their 1980s heyday. The increasing influence of The Smiths has stretched of course well beyond the parameters of popular music. When invited on the long-running BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs, David Cameron selected 'This Charming Man' as one of his indispensable recordings.

in Why pamper life's complexities?