Sunday, November 8th, 2009
"Never Had No One Ever"
Billy Bragg covers The Smiths
WikipediaBilly Bragg and The Smiths go way back. Besides being contemporaries and stalwarts of the English indie music circa the 1980s, Bragg was/is obviously chummy with Johnny Marr, the Smiths guitarist guesting on a number of records as well as producing some of Bragg’s most pop numbers.
His relationship with Stephen Patrick Morrissey is a little less clear, however. Though they surely know each other, the litany of hilarious Morrissey-centric anecdotes that Bragg busts out during his live shows – a tale of Bragg and Morrissey riding roller coasters together at Canada’s Wonderland comes to mind – are so mythology-deflating that they must be fiction. Or at least the hordes of Moz fans out there would hope so.
Not up for debate, however, is Bragg’s admiration for the Smiths’ musical output. He covers them frequently live, either wholly, in quote or medley, has released interpretations of “Jeanne” and “Back To The Old House” as b-sides and also contributed this cover of one of the dirgier numbers from The Queen Is Dead to the 1996 10th anniversary tribute album The Smiths Is Dead.
Johnny Marr is presently busy as a member of both The Cribs and Modest Mouse. Morrissey just released his contract-fulfilling b-sides compilation Swords and is trying to make it through a UK tour without collapsing or being assaulted. Billy Bragg kicks off a Canadian tour this Saturday out east and makes southern Ontario stops next week at the Phoenix in Toronto on the 17th and The Studio at Hamilton Place in Hamilton on the 18th. Wonder what Morrissey story he’ll bust out?
Beatroute has an interview with Billy Bragg.
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Never Had No One Ever”
Video: The Smiths – “Never Had No One Ever” (live)