In late 1984, Johnny Marr moved into a new house in Bowden, just outside of Manchester. Its previous occupants had left behind an old upright piano (indeed, there's every chance that the young guitarist actually insisted it be left behind when he bought the property).
Said piano became an instrument on which a number of songs for his band were to be written. The first of these was this:-
mp3 : The Smiths - Oscillate Wildly
An instrumental which appeared originally as the extra track on the 12" release of How Soon Is Now (itself a re-released single after originally appearing on the 12" of William It Was Really Nothing).
One of three instrumentals recorded by The Smiths, its initial appearance came as something of a surprise to hardcore fans - especially as the writing credit was the familiar Morrissey/Marr. There was speculation that Morrissey had refused to write a lyric believing the tune to be too lightweight, while others said it was Marr stamping some of his authority on the band by not wanting a lyric and to show that the music was every bit as important as the lyrics.
The truth is however, that Morrissey came up with the concept as he explained in an interview years later in 1988:-
"I suggested that Oscillate Wildly should be an instrumental. Up until that point Johnny had very little interest in non-vocal tracks. There was never any political heave-hoing about should we/shouldn't we have an instrumental and it was never a battle of powers. I totally approved but, obviously, I didn't physically contribute."
It is acknowledged that Morrissey came up with the name of the track, but who it is named after has changed over the years. In 2002, Simon Goddard, widely acknowledged as an expert on all things Smiths and Morrissey related, wrote that the title was a pun on Oscar Wilde - which does seem obvious.
But in Mozipedia, released in 2009, the same author says it was taken from a line in the book From Reverance to Rape, written by Molly Haskell in 1974.
Either way, the track is a pleasant surprise. It uses the piano as lead instrument and thus paves the way for some of the great tracks that would later appear on Strangeways Here We Come and it also has some semi-orchestral arrangements courtesy of an Emulator keyboard which would be used to superb effect on a number of the tracks on The Queen Is Dead.
Having said that, I wasn't immediately fond of the track. I did miss the great man's vocals too much at the time, but it is a bit of music I've grown more fond of the older I've become and the way I can now relate it to the band's overall development and its link to what was yet to be recorded.