#1005: 1984, The Smiths, What Difference Does It Make

by Ray_North on March 30, 2015

The Smiths managed to get two songs into our Hall of Fame 1000th song list; Jackie described the other song, How Soon Is Now, beautifully as a song that sums up the feeling of desperate isolation and worthlessness felt by teenagers in a stunningly poignant way.

But, there was more to The Smiths than just sitting in your bedroom and wondering why everyone hates you – and it was perhaps this alternative alter-ego Smiths that appealed to me more in my adolescence: the defiant Smiths, the don’t give a shit what you think Smiths, the you don’t understand me, and that’s good because I don’t want you to band. I was initially a little apprehensive about them, then intrigued, and then (sadly just co-inciding with the release of their last album) completely hooked.

And it was the ‘fuck youness’ Morrissey and Marr that appealed to me as much as the more sensitive side to the band – and What Difference Does It Make is them at their most brilliantly abrasive. Just listen to that initial guitar intro, where the intro to How Soon Is Now, shimmers, this is absolutely in your face, this is as good a guitar riff as any ever written. I have been listening to it for thirty years, and I still have no idea how Johnny Marr plays it – it is almost Superhuman; giving rise as it does to a drum and bass that is not meant to be played in a dingy bedroom, alone and accompanied with mournful poetry, this is a rhythm that is made for a dance hall, a disco, this is when you emerged from the side of the dance floor and knocked every other fucker out of the way as you moshed with the others who understood.

Even the lyric is aggressive, macho, a man throwing away the hearing aid and NHS glasses and declaring himself to anyone who is brave enough to listen:
All men have secrets and here is mine so let it be known
we have been through hell and high tide
I can surely rely on you
and yet you start to recoil
heavy words are so lightly thrown
but I’d still leap in front of a flying bullet for you.

Play it loud.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: