Friday, April 14, 2006

Greatest Song Ever - "Asleep"

The Smiths

The Smiths - "Asleep"
Louder Than Bombs, Sire, 1985/1987

It might be cliché to love this song. Even too cliché to warrant idolizing it further. But I'll be damned if it isn't fucking worth it.

The song that got me to give the Smiths another chance (which I am grateful for), and possibly the best thing Morrissey and Marr ever wrote, "Asleep" is a song worth obsessing over. I would argue I have never stopped doing just that -- merely just forgot that I had been doing it for periods of time.

Originally a mere B-side to The Queen Is Dead's "The Boy With A Thorn In His Side," this song has only been released twice since, both on odds-and-sods compilations. And each album pretty much covered the same ground as the other, aimed at different sides of the ocean. This is a crime. Granted, the actual content of the song -- simple, repetitive piano chords set against simply stated, repetitive lyrics, sells the final product short. It works like only simple, direct songs can work, and, unlike many of the bands other great cuts, this one can be attributed almost entirely to the Mozzer himself. His delivery is perfect, the vibrato tasteful and haunting.

What puts this song on the level of idolatry, however, rests with the subtle production tricks during the last third of the song. The echo chamber vocals starting during the bridge/outro, giving way to the gentle breeze that had been carrying the entire song, before dropping it onto a broken box of chimes is simply fantastic. I try not to make sweeping statements like this too often, but his song is a piece of mournful, yearning perfection.

Listen: The Smiths - Asleep


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