Song of the Day: The Smiths – “Ask”

Morrissey has made a career out of being kind of unpleasant while occasionally singing songs, so your average Smiths fan can be forgiven for essentially overlooking the rest of the group. Luckily, it was guitarist Johnny Marr’s 53rd birthday this past Halloween, and I thought this presented a perfect opportunity to take a look at an expert axeman who doesn’t get featured in your average “Greatest Of All Time” Lists. Like fellow rock guitarist Jimmy Page, Marr is fond of placing multiple guitar tracks upon each other to create a deep and intricate melodic lines. However, unlike Page, Marr opted for nuance over power (no slam on Page), and this gives each song many layers to uncover. Of course, Marr can deliver live without the aid of multi-tracking, doing his best to replicate every guitar line on the Smiths’ excellent live record Rank. Damned if he doesn’t almost do it. It is my personal opinion that, as witty and sardonic as Morrissey’s lyrics are, they wouldn’t really spring to life the way they do without the canvas of Marr’s guitar work (the other two members of the Smiths are probably in there somewhere, but they don’t seem to come up as much). Here’s “Ask,”  which has always been one of my favorite Smiths songs, and boasts textured and vivid guitar lines. This is to be expected with a guy like Johnny Marr. His influence is so wide that it’s no wonder that younger bands like Modest Mouse snatched him up as a free agent. He was even a full-fledged member of that group for a few years. Take a moment to acquaint yourself with the catalog of the Smiths if you haven’t already. You’ll thank me later.

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    By: Jordan Posner

    Jordan Posner is a writer, musician, attorney, rock music fan, wine enthusiast, American history buff and dog lover. He is originally from Centerville, Ohio and went to school at The Ohio State University and Loyola University Chicago. Here is a list of more things about him:

    1. Jordan currently lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and dog, both adorable.
    2. His favorite bands of all time include Husker Du, R.E.M, Ween, Pink Floyd and Guided by Voices
    3. His favorite U.S. President is either Theodore Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson (domestic policy only).
    4. His favorite song very well might be “Nightswimming” by R.E.M.
    5. He currently sells wine, unless you can offer him a better job.

    Check him out on Twitter, because he usually says a lot of funny things : @FlackSabbath

    You can email him your thoughts on 1980’s American hardcore music. Or just skip right to the death threats:

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