Cover #2 is The Smiths’ classic “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”, originally released as a single on January, 1987 and later on the album Louder Than Bombs. It was written by Johnny Marr and Morrissey.
I got into The Smiths later than most. You’re supposed to discover The Smiths when you’re 17 and pretentious. I discovered The Smiths when I was 22 and reasonably sane. I’d heard of them before, but I’d never really been into them. I thought they were drippy and bleh. Someone gave me a copy of Louder Than Bombs in college, and it didn’t really resonate. Oh sure, I went and listened to “Asleep” after it was namechecked in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and thought it made perfect sense that the character of Charlie would choose that as his theme song, as he was obviously a creepy, awkward loner who wanted to die.
I think I had the CD in the car when I was giving my friend Fallon a ride somewhere, and she wanted to listen to it, and she put on “Ask”, and I was instantly converted. “Ask” is a great song. I finally re-listened to the whole record, and I discovered Morrissey’s wit, and Johnny Marr’s excellent guitar stylings. He wasn’t a pretentious noodler, he was a guitarist who added interesting simple things and textures that enhanced the song. That’s why so many indie bands worship him, and that’s why Modest Mouse hired him.
JK Rowling grew up listening to The Smiths (was Hermione supposed to be a buck-toothed girl from Luxembourg? We shall never know.) So did Marc Spitz (the writer, not the swimmer). When I listen to them now, they remind me of feeling lonely and sad but kind of happy, too – sad is happy for deep people – like you do when you’re young and pretentious.
So, “Shoplifters of the World Unite” is my second cover song. It’s a simpler cover than the last – mostly acoustic, some harmonies. It’s not actually about anti-gay laws in the UK in the Thatcher years, as some have claimed, but rather about “spiritual shoplifting, cultural shoplifting, taking things and using them to your own advantage,” according to Morrissey himself . Good song to cover, then. 🙂