I love 80's music so it's sort of a wonder that I never really listened to The Smiths before this year. (Depeche Mode and The Cure got to me first, I guess.) Shar and I drove to Philadelphia right after we got up here in August and it was the first time I ever really listened to them- except for the theme song from Charmed, of course. In the car with Jimmy a few weeks ago, I kept cycling through his collection of The Smiths and Morrissey, trying to figure out which song it was that I liked so much.
It's "This Charming Man" by The Smiths. Off the album, The Smiths. Googling this song actually provides a fair amount of interesting history about it. It was written by Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. And those lyrics. Well, I'm not sure if you'd get all this just from listening to what the song says -though it is unabashedly and thrillingly homoerotic- but apparently Morrissey based it on feeling detached. He also used deliberately archaic language in the lyrics- it works. It really does give you this sense of being very English- not British- and I also think that it invokes clear and precise imagery. I love that Morrissey is deliberately ambiguous and lets you draw your own conclusions about so much.
Ok, so as not to completely bore you with the whole behind the music thing, I'll tell you why I like it. It's jangly and fun but also subversive. Morrissey, if you haven't heard him, has the most distinctive British melodic voice. It's utterly entrancing and completely absorbing and it should completely clash with the style of the guitar and the music on this song, but for some reason it all just sort of works together. He sounds hesitant and yet, utterly fascinated and completely intrigued. The song itself is flirtatious. I think that it's rare for artists, writers, musicians to be able to completely show you the whole picture while telling you so very little. And Morrissey doesn't waste a single breath explaining anything to you- he knows he doesn't have to. The music, the sparse lyrics, the whole picture speaks for itself.