Is there ever a song with a more sinister opening guitar line? You know right from the start, that this a dark song. Then Johnny Marr’s over-dubs on a siren-like guitar cut through – cut through your soul – creating even more tension. The song is propelled by the memorable guitar rhythm guitar, the siren like slide, and the machine like drumming creating a hypnotic effect.
And his is even before Morrisey tells his tale isolation, criminally shy, and wanting to be loved “just like everybody else does”. “How Soon is Now?” is Morrisey’s declaration of being miserable (and this is coming from a guy who is famed for being eternally miserable). Morrisey’s vocals seem detached and cold, giving his performance more of an edge than his normal croon.
I was probably 7 or 8 when I first heard “How Soon is Now?” and had no idea what it was about. What young kid could? But yet I could understand the feeling behind the song. Even then I could tell that the guy singing the song was coming from a sad and lonely place. This was some place that I clearly did not want to inhabit. Little did I know that years later in my late teens and early 20’s I would be conjuring up some of those feelings that Morrisey expresses throughout. When you’re feeling down and out Morrisey’s lines -“you shut your mouth. How can you say, I go about things the wrong way?” – seem like a mantra. With that it’s easy to understand why Morrisey has such a cult following with goth kids and the gay community.
I’m also attached to “How Soon Is Now?” because it was in the background when I had my first whiff of pot. I was with my older brother for the weekend and we were driving to a movie (I think) and the song was in the background. The car in front of us wreaked of something which I had never smelled before – and it smelled kind of stale. “That’s pot you smell,” My brother explained. “That’s a smell you never forget.” True enough.