Thursday, February 14, 2013

#450: The Smiths-Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
Artist: The Smiths
Release Date: September,1987
From the Album: Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

Quick Take: "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" is an ironically appropriate title for the Smiths' final US single: although it features crisper production (courtesy of new compatriot Stephen Street, who was about to become Morrissey's primary creative foil for the first part of his solo career) that for once allows the listener to hear Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce's bass and drums without having to search for them and gives Johnny Marr a wider sonic field to fill with his trademark overdubbed guitars, the tune itself is basically a rehash of previous singles, with more than a bit of the rushing anthemic quality of "Bigmouth Strikes Again" or "The Queen Is Dead." Lyrically, the song is atypically repetitive, consisting primarily of a chorus ("Stop me if you think you've heard this one before") and a separate refrain ("Nothing's changed, I still love you/Only slightly less than I used to") repeated several times each with a couple of brief verses in between. However, one of those verses does include one of the most humorous lyrical descriptions of the pain only men can know (the result of landing on a bicycle crossbar) ever to be found in a mainstream pop song, so Morrissey's record for lacing his songs with oddball jokes stands. Although "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" was the Smiths' biggest US success -- it didn't chart, but it did manage to cross over onto some of the more adventurous commercial radio stations from the left hand of the dial -- the song was never released as a single in the UK; legend has it that the BBC unofficially put the kibosh on the song due to the line "Plan a mass murder," after the August 1987 rampage of one Michael Ryan, who killed 16 people and himself in the small village of Hungerford. Adding credence to this theory is the fact that the American video for "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" consists of the exact same footage (Morrissey cycling around the streets of Manchester with an army of becardiganned look-alikes behind) as the UK video for the equivalent single "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish." The footage makes sense for this song, which features a bicycle smash-up in the lyrics, but not so much for the other.

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