The last few decades have seen numerous artists and musicians taking inspiration from The Smiths and their main man Morrissey. Brooklyn’s Ski Lodge is no different when it comes to taking inspiration from the iconic Manchester band. Listening to Ski Lodge’s debut full-length album Big Heart, you can hear The Smiths’ sound resonate in everything lead vocalist Andrew Marr has written, produced (with Lewis Pesacov), and recorded. The mopey lyrics are showered with irresistible jangling guitars and poppy melodies. Songs such “Just To Be Like You” and “Boy” display Marr’s absolute ability to conjure up his love of The Smiths into his own music in full effect.
Below, Marr lists his favorite 10 songs by The Smiths in no particular order. He discusses in-depth how not has each song affected him on a personal level but has helped him write his own songs.
“The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”
This is probably my favorite song title from the Smiths. I feel like this whole song is just one big giant chorus. I’m amazed with their ability to write songs that are so fluid, they allow me to lose sight of when one section ends and another begins. As someone who is trying to write songs, it’s hard to get away from staying in or around one particular structure or formula. “behind the hatred there lies a murderous desire for love” God that’s good. The way this song is laid out is absolutely perfect.
“This Charming Man”
Johnny Marr’s guitar riffs in this song are absolutely brilliant. The main phrase that he repeats throughout is so long and good, it’s like little guitar hooks within one bigger hook. I think after hearing this track it opened me up to try writing longer guitar phrases than i had in the past. Pretty sure no guitar part i write will come close to being as good as this one.
One of the most hauntingly beautiful and sad songs I’ve ever heard. I first heard this song from a friend who kept playing it. It came at a time when I had already been listening to certain Smiths tracks quite a bit. This song is so bare with minimal instrumentation. I think it helped me be okay again with not always trying to write upbeat guitar driven songs. I used to write a lot with just piano and vocals, but for a while I felt like i had to just stay in this little box or else no one would be able to latch on to what I was doing.
“Frankly, Mr. Shankly”
I think Andy Rourke’s bass part is my favorite thing about this song but another thing I love about this song is lyrics (as is the case with most of their songs) A couple lines in particular like “but still I’d rather be famous than righteous or holy” and “I want to live and i want to love, I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of”. These thoughts seem somewhat absurd but feel totally familiar to me, as if I’ve had thoughts same thoughts at one point or another. In my own songwriting, i try to capture these kinds of thoughts that go through my head. Writing them down has a way of making me more self-aware and I think its thoughts that plenty of people can relate to having at one point or another.
Leave it to the Smiths make death and cemeteries sound fun. My favorite line in this one is “There’s always someone, somewhere, with a big nose who knows”. I think this song is a good example of Morrissey’s ability to talk about dark subjects and still have it feel so fun to listen to. I’ve talked to people about how I tend to do that in some of my music, and I think Morrissey showed me that just because I want to talk about sad; it doesn’t always need to sound sad musically.
“Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”
I love how short this song is. Sometimes I’ll listen to it several times in a row. This is another example for me of a not being afraid to write something a bit slower. The acoustic guitar is so beautiful sounding in this song. On my upcoming LP we used a lot of 12-string acoustic guitar to fill things out and add a shimmering quality to some of the songs. This song had a big influence on me wanting to use the acoustic guitar more in my music.
“There Is A Light That Will Never Go Out”
This is the first Smiths song I ever heard. Up until that moment, I had never heard anyone sing like Morrissey. He has become one of my favorite singers/songwriters of all time. I didn’t really start singing until my early 20’s and never got around to taking any type of vocal lessons. I spent a lot of the first couple years listening closely and singing along to my favorite vocalists to hear how they were using their voice and then trying these different styles out within my own songwriting. I think singing along to the Smiths/Morrissey played a big part in helping me start to find my own voice.
“I Know It’s Over”
“I know it’s over, and it never really began” These are the kind of things that Morrissey writes that I feel like I can totally relate to. Whether what I think he means is accurate or not is irrelevant. For me, Morrissey provides so many lines that speak to the core of human emotion and thought. When I write my own songs, I try to keep things unfiltered and simple for the most part because I feel like that’s what’s most honest and what most people can identify with.
“How Soon Is Now?”
I love the tremolo/vibrato on the guitar in this one. There’s a droning quality to this track that I think is different than a lot of their songs. Another example of how they were able to write things with such different feels but make it sound undoubtedly like a Smiths song. It’s a hard thing to do, I try to make my own music different enough song to song but I hope that it all sounds pretty recognizable as being mine. “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.”
such a jammer! once again such amazing guitar lines throughout. I love that the chorus asks the introspective question “am i still ill?” At least i think he’s asking himself… I like to write lyrics with questions to myself in them. It’s probably because I first heard Morrissey doing it. There’s a lot in this world that I am unsure about and I lot about myself that I question. I think this is very cathartic way to write songs sometimes and in the past has helped me deal with things I was struggling with.
To hear the influence The Smith’s have had on Marr’s own writing, check out the two songs below from their new album Big Heart.
“Just To be Like You”
In addition to the new album recently released, the band will also be setting out on a winter tour performing with Gringo Star and Brazos. Check them out at a city near you below:
11.13 – Boston, MA: Church #
11.14 – Providence, RI: Fete Lounge #
11.15 – Brooklyn, NY: Cameo Gallery #
11.16 – New York, NY: Pianos #
11.17 – Brooklyn, NY: “Kidrockers” at Brooklyn Bowl (11am w/ Au Revoir Simone)
11.17 – Philadelphia, PA: Kung Fu Necktie #
11.20 – New Haven, CT: BAR #
11.21 – Washington DC: Black Cat #
11.25 – Albany, NY: Valentine’s Music Hall (90.9FM WCDB Fall Show w/ Crocodiles)
12.05 – Bloomington, IN: The Bishop ^
12.06 – Chicago, IL: The Hideout ^
12.07 – Cincinnati, OH: MOTR Pub ^
12.08 – Nashville, TN: The End ^
12.10 – Dallas, TX: Three Links ^
12.11 – Austin, TX: Holy Mountain ^
12.12 – New Orleans, LA: The Circle Bar ^
12.13 – Atlanta, GA: 529 ^
12.14 – Chapel Hill, NC: Local 506 ^
12.15 – Washington D.C: DC9 ^
12.16 – Philadelphia, PA: The Boot & Saddle ^
12.17 – New York, NY: Mercury Lounge ^
# w/ Gringo Star
^ w/ Brazos