Steven Patrick Morrissey, prominent member of The Smiths, released rough-draft versions of three tracks from his 2009 solo album Years of Refusal last week. His website, titled True To You, features first-try demo tracks of “Something is Squeezing My Skull,” “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed,” and “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell.”
In a period of twenty-six years, Morrissey released eleven albums. The first, Viva Hate, climbed to the top of the UK album charts. Given The Smiths’ enduring legacy, the lead lyricist/vocalist’s subsequent success is no shock. The Smiths broke up in 1987 but remain a vanguard of indie music. In a review of the top one hundred most influential artists, NME claims when people reference indie music, “they’re generally talking about something whose central tenets were laid down by The Smiths.” Such notoriety makes the band as well as Morrissey seem untouchable. Morrissey’s first try demos do us all a favor by revealing the fact that such music is a process. Magic takes time.
The demos each kick off with a 1-2, 1-2-3-4 count that’s absent in the final version, making it feel as though we’re privileged to a sneak peek of sorts. Morrissey’s voice exists more as a muted background and the guitar riffs hold slightly less grit, making the tracks not as audibly balanced as the final. Overall, the final versions of each track do not veer too far from the original demos. Still, the excitement of experiencing a less polished studio point of view makes the listen worth it.
Listen to the first demos here.