When the "songs that make you smile" are Smiths instrumentals

Every song is an instrumental – if you listen right.

"A sad fact widely known
The most impassionate song
To a lonely soul
Is so easily outgrown
But don't forget the songs
That made you smile
And the songs that made you cry."

"Rubber Ring" from The Smith's 1987 double compilation album Louder Than Bombs

What if those songs you were not to forget, "the most impassionate song(s) to a lonely soul, and Smith songs specifically, were instrumentals? Obviously, in "Rubber Ring," Morrissey was too humble to ever refer to himself as a future inspiration for remembering the past. Regardless of whether the body or mind rules, we listen with our bodies and minds, and words impact image and movement as much as sound surrounds the mind. What is heard when we can highlight the musicians to appreciate their craft? How can instrumentals teach us to listen again, differently?

Now that The Smiths are a TikTok phenomenon, I want to highlight and appreciate the musicians that sonically staged Morrissey's musings, misgivings, sarcasm, storytelling, and a reactionary tantrum or two thrown in for good copy in the NME through the compositions of four Smiths instrumental tracks.

If you did not hear the song live in person, you might have first heard "The Draize Train" as a track on the live album Rank, released in 1988 after the Smiths split. They couldn't or didn't want to keep up with the Joneses (admittedly a bad pun and thrown in out of opportunism). Originally the B-Side for "Panic," released in 1986, the spacey rift wah-wahed the fans in a bouncing rhythm set by Rourke and Joyce. Check out a live video version here.

Johnny Marr has this to say about the song. "I've got an Epiphone Coronet with one pickup, and I string it with the high strings from a 12-string set. It's a really zingy, trebly guitar. I used that on a lot of things that people think are 12-string… I also used it on the studio version of 'The Draize Train,' along with two Rickenbackers. I was working with Alan Rogan, the famed English guitar technician. He said, 'Well, if you want a Pete Townshend sound, I'll bring down two of Pete's guitars.' I don't know whether Pete knows about that!"

Morrissey shared his feelings about "The Draize" Train to New Music Express in February 1988, "I was… asked to write words for… 'The Draize Train,' which I thought was the weakest thing Johnny had ever done. Geoff Travis came to see me one day with the tape of it and said, 'It's the best thing Johnny's written and it's a Number One single if you put words to it.' But I said, 'No, Geoff, it's not right.' So, yes, there was pressure to write lyrics, but I thought they were better as they were."

The folks at We Are Mozzerians offer more details, "The title of the song came The title of the song came from the 'Draize Test', a now infamous toxicity test co-devised in 1944 by U.S. scientist John H. that involves applying a test substance to the eye or skin of a restrained, conscious animal, and then leaving it for set amount of time before rinsing it out and recording its effect."

"Oscillate Wildly," the title signaling Morrissey's favorite and fabulous icon inspiration Oscar Wilde, opens with a mesmerizing piano sequence, high hat, bass tickle, and a violin, followed by a sensual riff and tambourine shake that annouces the oncoming force of subtle pop rock staged with electric keys and an acoustic echo. Originally a B-Side of "How Soon is Now" (which was a B-Side of the 1984 single "William, it was really nothing,") the track was included in Louder Than Bombs two-record compilation released in 1987.

According to Passions Just Like Mine, the song has never been played live. "Initially, the very notion of instrumentals was motivated by me [Morrissey]. I suggested that 'Oscillate Wildly' should be an instrumental; up until that point Johnny had very little interest in non-vocal tracks. There was never any political heave-hoing about should we-shouldn't we have an instrumental and it was never a battle of powers between Johnny and myself. The very assumption that a Smiths instrumental track left Morrissey upstairs in his bedroom stamping his feet and kicking the furniture was untrue! I totally approved but, obviously, I didn't physically contribute." Morrissey, NME, February 13, 1988

"Money Changes Everything" was initially released as a B-side to "Bigmouth Strikes Again." In 1987 it was included in the compilation album The World Won't Listen. The melody was reworked with lyrics by Bryan Ferry and released as "The Right Stuff" on the 1987 album 'Bete Noire.' I could find no public statements about this song. It slays. Check out this live video from the July 20, 1986 concert at the University of Salford, which includes Craig Gannon.

These instrumentals highlight how Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke metered a consistent rhythm canvas, interspersed with funky breaks and disco beats, for Johnny Marr to orchestrate layers and layers of dripping rockabilly genius. It is as if Marr is three guitarists in one, at once.

The previously unreleased version of "I Misses You" wa also an instrumental, though there is an edit with Morrissey singing lyrics. I love this twangy, happy, strummy melody. Rourke lights up the bass while Joyce anchors the wilding chords. Suggestion: if you are new to this one, listen to the instrumental first.

Passions Just Like Mine clarifies the history, "A 3:54 instrumental demo was recorded in December 1984 at Island Record's Fallout Shelter while the band were in the studio mixing the material that would soon after be released as the "Meat Is Murder" album. The track was very likely written there or shortly before. Lyrics were apparently written by Morrissey for it, but they were not recorded (Morrissey did come up with the title). The song contains elements which would later be reused in "Unloveable."

Fortunately, riffing off Ani DiFranco's IQ, every song is an instrumental – if you listen right.