While The Smiths only existed for about four years, they were one of the most influential bands of all time. They also had a knack for writing songs that could really bum you out. With that in mind, and in honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of The Queen is Dead, we’re looking at the 10 saddest songs in the band’s catalog. Keep in mind, this was not an easy list, as practically every song they wrote could qualify, so if your favorite Moz weeper didn’t make it, don’t take it personally.
10. “Meat Is Murder”
Is Morrissey’s assertion that the meat industry is “death for no reason” an accurate one? That can be debated, but this song comes on strong and forces the listener to consider the grim way that a cow becomes a hamburger. Definitely not a party song.
9. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
Here, our narrator finds happiness by escaping through the bottle, and finds his depression returning after he sobers up, a predicament some of us have been in before. Even worse, Moz asks a question that feels all-too familiar: “In my life/ why do I smile/ at people who’d I much rather/ kick in the eye?” The only thing that keeps this one from ranking higher is that despite the depressing lyrics, the music is surprisingly upbeat, a specialty of the group.
8. “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
The title of this one could read as a tad self-deprecating; like it’s Morrissey’s way of saying “look, I know I write a lot of sad songs, okay?” But on another level, it speaks to someone who is constantly in misery, telling anyone who will listen about his latest misanthropic circumstance, to the point that it gradually becomes meaningless. Essentially, this is a song about being sad all the time, and if you’ve been going through a rough stretch, it can hit pretty hard.
7. “What Difference Does It Make?”
Unrequited love has been one of Morrissey’s most prominent themes over the years, and here, our narrator “would leap in front of a flying bullet” for a love interest who wants nothing to do with him. As someone who went through this multiple times as a young man, Morrissey does a little bit too good of a job of describing how miserable this feeling is. Don’t let Johnny Marr’s jangly riff fools you; this one is a weeper.
6. “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
Moz had a real knack for making fairly ordinary events feel like the worst thing in the world, and this classic is a fine example of that. Our narrator shoots his mouth off, and alienates his friend in the process, and now, as he puts it, he’s got “no right to take (his) place in the human race.” We’ve all had moments where he we said something we didn’t mean out of anger, or because we didn’t realize how much it would hurt, and this song encapsulates that feeling perfectly.
5. “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”
The story here is simple, but quite effective: Our narrator used to mock people who were in a given situation — it’s never explicitly stated what that situation is — and he’s now received a bit of poetic justice. This person could be anything; a rich person who mocked the poor and lost his fortune, someone who mocked the disabled before becoming disabled himself, but the listener is perhaps better off not knowing. The simple tale of a man making callous jokes, and suffering ultimate comeuppance is effective on its own without needing to get into the specifics.
4. “Last Night I Dreamt that Somebody Loved Me”
The title alone describes this one, as Morrissey falls into a pit of isolation and despair, realizing the world in which he actually had the companionship of another human being had all been a dream. “No hope/ no harm/ just another false alarm,” he sings, though it seems like he’s lying about the “no harm” part. Anyone who’s ever struggled with prolonged isolation can have a good cry over this one.
3. “Never Had No One Ever”
Morrissey’s asexuality has been debated and speculated about for years, and he addresses it quite directly on this song, which anyone who was passed over in school can relate to. “I had a really bad dream/ it lasted 20 years/ 7 months/ and 27 days,” Moz sings. Damn. That’s rough.
2. “How Soon Is Now?”
The most obvious choice here, as it’s likely the one that has stuck with you for years upon the first listen. “I am human and I need to be loved/ just like everybody else does” is an all-time killer lyric for anyone who has felt lonely and alienated, then discovered the Smiths and felt oddly a part of something larger, while still lonely and alienated. This song, with that lyric in particular, have gone on to define Morrissey more than anything else. Only one thing could top it as his saddest moment…..
1. “I Won’t Share You”
The last song on the final Smiths album, this track basically symbolized the end of the band. Morrissey wrote “I Won’t Share You” about his relationship with Johnny Marr, and it still stings today, especially considering just how unlikely it is that the two will ever perform together again. It was the most fitting end to a band’s career that you can imagine, and considering the permanently fractured relationship it describes, the saddest song by a band that wrote several of them.