Reviews - What do customers think about The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life?
Engaging and Edifying... Aug 18, 2003
This mammoth undertaking called, The Songs that Saved Your Life is an ultra-detailed extremely meticulous look into the production of virtually every Smiths song in existence. It's simultaneously fascinating and annoyingly detailed.
How much you'll enjoy this book ultimately depends on the depth of your fandom and your interest in the Smiths' musical production.
The Songs that Saved Your Life is engaging and edifying, however, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone.
This book is not for you if: 1. You're only looking for Behind the Music / E! True Hollywood Story type gossip.
2. You're only looking for lyrical interpretations of Smith songs.
3. You're more interested the big picture rather than smaller details.
Despite whatever feelings you may have for Mike Joyce, he actually writes a touching forward for the book -- mind you not as brilliant at Mick Middle's forward for Morrissey's Manchester -- but surprisingly optimistic and celebratory of the Smiths' legacy.
The book lists about 80 Smiths songs in the order of the finished studio mater tape. To say "lists" is a bit of an understatement as The Songs that Saved Your Life is more or less the Encyclopedia Brittanica of Smiths songs.
Not only does it catalog singles and B-sides, it includes detailed information on Smiths songs that have never seen the light of day by the general public. The most famous of these songs is, "A Matter of Opinion" which was uncovered by author Simon Goddard while listening to Mike Joyce's own master tapes in preparation for writing the book.
There are also a number of untitled instrumentals produced by John Porter, Grant Showbiz and Stephen Street that are detailed as well.
Each of the songs in the book lists the day & place it was recorded, who it was produced by and the format & month of the first UK release (admittedly a bit confusing from an American POV). Next comes the detailed history of the song, e.g. how the song came about, what influenced the song, musical and or lyrical drafts, anecdotes, UK chart placement, song keys, quotes from band members (including Morrissey), Rough Trade / Geoff Travis reaction and headlines and controversies.
Now just when you thought you've learned everything possible about 'Wonderful Woman' for example, there are three more sections regarding the song's life in concert, on television and on the radio. The concert information is current to Morrissey's 2002 where Moz performed several Smiths song live. It did, however, feel somewhat eerie seeing in print information about a tour that just ended a couple months ago.
The book can be read chronologically, or out of order. Skip the songs you hate (as if you'd actually hate any Smiths song) or pick a song you lurve and read up on it. You do, however, get a better sense of continuity having read it cover to cover.
Short chapters - good for those of us with attention deficit disorder.
Extremely detailed - More than you ever really wanted to know
The Verdict: Undoubtedly Simon Goddard has created a masterpiece. By the time I got to page 250 I'm sure my IQ went up a point or two. The vast amounts of data included in the book are incredible. If you're a Smiths fan and you haven't bought this book yet. I have to ask, what are you waiting for?
Any thing is hard to find when you will not open your eyes Jun 17, 2003
Being a Smiths fan I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was engrossed from start to finish.It is interesting to know how the songs were inspired and what they were about because over the years some of these fact have been vague.Detail is spent on Morrisseys lyrics aswell as as each members influence and musical style.Description on studio techniques and Johnny Marrs guitar figures are all inspiring.The author writes in a sincere straight forward way.
The essential Smiths Fan's reference guide!!! Jun 15, 2003
ROMANTIC AND SQUARE IS HIP AND AWARE by Brier Random
NOW I KNOW HOW JOAN OF ARC FELT: I recently challenged myself to sit down with pen & paper and make a list of the truly great bands of my lifetime, bands that really made a difference in my life. After a few hours, I found myself staring at a sheet of paper with exactly one name scratched on it: "The Smiths".
I remember each step of my Smiths epiphany-- every detail of the first time I heard certain songs: Where I was, what I was wearing, how I was standing. (In the kitchen of 716 De La Vina, boot-cut corduroys and a Bauhaus t-shirt, arms folded, weight slightly shifted on my left leg for "Bigmouth Strikes Again", if you're interested.)
And if the previous paragraph means anything to you, then you should read the new book Songs That Saved Your Life by Simon Goddard. It's a thorough track-by-track examination of every Smiths song ever laid to tape. Goddard chronologically fine-tooth-combs each song's lyrical influences, recording techniques, details on alternate takes, live performance history, and band members' recollections of the songs (including the fact that the three musical Smiths, sans-Morrissey, got incredibly stoned and replaced the studio lights with red bulbs to record the epic How Soon Is Now?). Not just a Smiths-completist's wet dream, anyone who has laid in awe on the bedroom floor while The Smiths poured out of the speakers will consider this book as indispensable as the songs themselves. I literally couldn't put it down until I set it upon a stationary surface.
Good and honest.. Jun 8, 2003
The first half of this book was I'm sad to say pretty boring but maybe that's because everyone couldn't really remember the first 2 and 1/2 years of The Smiths. I admire the author for not glossing this part up. The 2nd half really picks up with the last quater being just splendid.
Awesome band - awesome book! Mar 22, 2003
If, like me, you believe that The Smiths were the greatest band that ever existed then you don't merely NEED this book, you simply CANNOT LIVE without it! There have been loads of books about The Smiths and Morrissey so far but what's great about this one is the fact that it really goes into the songs and there's so much information that's never been made public before. Not just the unreleased music and lyrics (which is fascinating) but a lot of where Morrissey borrowed lyrical ideas from and who/what inspired them. Like did you know that William It Was Really Nothing was about Billy MacKenzie of The Associates? Or that I Won't Share was about Morrissey's old friend Linder Sterling? Or that I Keep Mine Hidden was Morrissey's personal letter to Johnny Marr as the band was splitting? Well if you didn't you need to read this!
Because every song is listed in the order it was written you really get a sense of how The Smiths grew as a band and how the break up was inevitable. It really makes you want to go back and listen to the songs again and hear new things. Maybe it isn't the sort of book you'd read cover to cover, more as a reference guide, but if you love The Smiths you simply cannot afford to miss out on this. Even if you only quite like them, I think reading this book will really make you appreciate the brilliance of the songs and the lyrics and may well turn you from a partial fan into a raving Smiths maniac!
All in all Songs That Saved Your Life is an awesome book about an awesome band. Like it says on the back cover - apart from the records themselves there is nothing else you need on this subject!