Saturday, May 28, 2011
ONE SONG BY THE SMITHS....A SERIES FOR SATURDAYS (Part 39)
mp3 : The Smiths – Shoplifters Of The World Unite
There’s loads of folk out there on this interwebby thing who are adamant that this is the most gay of many gay anthems written and recorded by The Smiths. This is based on the word shoplifter being awfully close to the word shirtlifter which is a rather crude and nasty slang word for a homosexual. There’s even some who has said ‘shoplifting is a misdemeanour crime…so is sodomy…..see the connection?’
This tendency of so many people, fans and otherwise, to concentrate on the lyrics and worry about their meaning is one of the few things that annoys me about the legacy of The Smiths. When this single was released (I nearly typed ‘came out’ just there but feared I might only be making a subconscious contribution to the debate!!), I didn’t think anything of the Morrissey lyrics. Instead, I was pleased to hear another great Johnny Marr tune that was a close cousin to How Soon Is Now?
This was a single that divided the fans of the band - certainly among the small number I knew at the time. Those who hated it, and there were many, were appalled by what was quite clearly a guitar solo.....the short burst at around 1 min 42 secs into the song really did upset at least one mate at the time. Others said it was impossible to dance to....a far cry from the joy and verve of the daffodil-swinging days. Me? I love it to bits. A stonking tune and yes.....while the lyrics aren't the be-all-and-end-all, there some of Moz's best work in here, and in particular:-
My only weakness is.........well never mind, never mind
I'm not sure what the hell it is about. I do know it's not about the physical crime of shoplifting....and I don't agree that its a metaphor for a gay love song. Morrissey has been very coy about it all when asked....all he's said its about shoplifting in a spiritual sense and about taking thins and using them to your own advantage. Does this mean it's a close cousin to Cemetry Gates when the great man had a go at his detractors about plagiarism?
Who the hell cares?? It's only a song. A great song mind you, and one that elicited this superb appearance on Top Of The Pops in which Morrissey helped me prove to the doubters that you could dance to it:-
But did he really have to dress like Shakin Stevens?????