Track 1 on disk 1 of the Brit Box is one even I know. “How Soon is Now?” is on the album, “Hatful of Hollow,” released in 1984. Oh how I love that wah-wah, train-coming that pulses throughout. Such self-absorption is to be expected in an oddball, heroic, social outcast. (My favorite kind of person, in case you haven’t figured that out by now.)
This song – which guitarist, Johnny Marr, described as The Smiths’ “most enduring record” – is about their frontman Morrissey’s crippling shyness. It has since become an anthem for the alienated and socially isolated.
This was a very complex song to record. Marr broke the process down to The Guitar Magazine: “I wanted it to be really, really tense and swampy, all at the same time. Layering the slide part was what gave it the real tension. The tremolo effect came from laying down a regular rhythm part with a capo at the 2nd fret on a Les Paul, then sending that out in to the live room to four Fender Twins. John was controlling the tremolo on two of them and I was controlling the other two, and whenever they went out of sync we just had to stop the track and start all over again. It took an eternity.”
How Soon Is Now?
I am the son
and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar
I am the son and the heir
of nothing in particular
You shut your mouth
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am Human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does
There’s a club, if you like to go
you could meet somebody who really loves you
so you go, and you stand on your own
and you leave on your own
and you go home, and you cry
and you want to die
When you say it’s gonna happen “now”
well, when exactly do you mean?
see I’ve already waited too long
and all my hope is gone
Songwriters: Johnny Marr and Morissey
What memories do you have that are associated with this song?