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97 | Top 100
'This Charming Man'
The Smiths
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“This Charming Man” marked most people’s introduction to The Smiths and, therefore, to the weird, wordy world of Morrissey and the music of Johnny Marr. Beginning with a spiky guitar riff from Marr,
The Smiths
Song facts
Composer Morrissey/Marr
Genre Pop
Album The Smiths
Year of release 1983
UK Chart Position 25
the track explodes into life with the introduction of Andy Rourke’s Motown-esque bassline several seconds later.
A few moments after that Morrissey arrives. At once both playful and erudite, his cryptic lyric – is it about homosexuality? - is essential to the song’s appeal.
Never one to shy away from clever plagiarism, he took the song’s two most famous lines from films the refrain “I would go out tonight/ But I haven’t got a stitch to wear” comes from the 1961 movie A Taste Of Honey, while “A jumped up pantry boy/ Who never knew his place” comes from a line uttered by Laurence Olivier to Michael Caine in 1972’s Sleuth.
The Smiths performed the track on Top Of The Pops and in doing so cemented many of the characteristics now associated with them, with Morrissey prancing around in strings of beads while waving a bunch of gladioli around his head.


Morrissey on how he started out in music.
George Harrison
Morrissey reveals how he got out of the council estate and into music - "I had immense determination and it seemed that the more people tried to hammer me down, and say I was dreaming, the more I determined I got".


 

Other versions
The Smiths tribute album
 Italy's Darling recorded their version of This Charming Man for the album There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (A Tribute to The Smiths)

The perfect pop song, simple yet complex, with Morrissey's ambiguos charm as powerful as ever.


Sarah - Glasgow

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