Game 161, Athletics at Mariners

DMZ · September 27, 2008 at 12:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Smith v Rowland-Smith! The Smiths!

As you’ve noticed if you’ve been around here for a while, I take my music seriously. And as Jim Thomsen noted last time we did a year’s-end list, I tend to be in the John Richards set, so yeah, I subscribe to emusic even though I whine about emusic’s monthly corner-cutting, I have all the Sonic Youth albums, even the ones that aren’t much good, and I have the new Mogwai on while I listen to this (and it’s bad! really bad! I’m hoping it grows on me, because it’s been hugely disappointing the first time). I’m your general-issued self-conscious hipster.

But I don’t get the Smiths love. I thought Morrissey was annoying when I first heard them, and I don’t understand why they’re considered important, or influential, much less worth listening to. And usually I can look at bands I don’t like and still recognize this, but The Smiths… if your musical legacy is the Cranberries, you sucked. And there are other bands that liked them… but what did they do that was so influential? And how do you measure these things?

Oh, and the game’s at 1:10. It’s not televised.


52 Responses to “Game 161, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. giuseppe on September 27th, 2008 12:24 pm

    I totally agree. My older brother loved the Smiths so I even grew up hearing them all the time and I still have no nostalgic feelings toward this band. And that’s saying a lot because some of my brother’s other influences that did stick with me are nothing to brag about in a hipper-than-thou contest.

  2. itea on September 27th, 2008 12:28 pm

    De gustibus non est disputandum

    If you don’t like the Smiths, cool. I enjoy them, and there’s great memories associated with their music. Of course, I’m older than you (DMZ, that is).

    In their defense I would say that they had a lot of originality, and a lot of integrity. But as to their actual sound and whether it appeals – just depends on personal taste. Why bash? A great thing about music is that there doesn’t have to be bad music to make the good music good – it’s not zero-sum.

  3. kyoko on September 27th, 2008 12:41 pm

    I think their influence lies in taking the beatlesque pop elements out of late 70s punk and packaging them around some pretty witty intellectual lyrics with a charismatic front man. In doing this they inspired a whole bunch of song writting indie pop bands but, for me, all their songs sounds the same.

  4. Colm on September 27th, 2008 1:03 pm

    I’m 39; I lived in Mancheseter for a year in my teens. I like my music “indie” (but cringe at the word) so I should LOVE The Smiths. I never did.

    Now The Fall – there’s a band I could really get my teeth into.

    Caveat – “What Difference Does It Make?” is effing brilliant.

  5. Mike Snow on September 27th, 2008 1:18 pm

    Too bad we need Moyer to lose today to help the Mariners toward the #1 pick in the draft.

  6. Wallingfjord on September 27th, 2008 1:20 pm

    Hey, what’s with the Moyer post? This is a Smiths thread!

  7. pgreyy on September 27th, 2008 1:25 pm

    Moyer could simply get a no decision, Mike. Don’t be so negative.

    The Smiths wrote catchy jangly pop songs–but they did so in that “oh, so melodramatic” style beloved by artsy, fatalistic romantic youths that inspires intense devotion from gloomy boys and the girls/boys who hold unrequited crushes on them…and intense bewilderment from those who don’t get it.

    To me, growing up as a post-punk/new wave kid in the Midwest…I didn’t care about Morrissey’s sexual confusions or obsessions…all I knew is that they met the single criteria that seemed to define ALL of the music that I loved in that era: they did songs with melancholy lyrics that you could dance to…

    Can I guess, DMZ, that you’re not much of a fan of The Cure either?

  8. Andy Stallings on September 27th, 2008 1:36 pm

    I’m not a huge Smiths fan either. It comes down to 8 or 9 Smiths songs I particularly like and a big eye roll at the rest as they go careening well beyond the line between emotive exactitude and fishy melodrama. I rarely listen to them, and find Morrissey-post-Smiths as unfortunate as Chilton-post-Replacements and McCartney-post-Beatles.

    However, I do get the Smiths’ influence. To me it extends well past the regrettable Cranberries mutation, in a number of interesting directions. For instance, I see them as a foundation for Lush, whose affinities with My Bloody Valentine are more apparent but no more important, and in Lush I see the blueprint for bands-of-today Vivian Girls and Beach House. I also see a lot of the Smiths in Pulp’s best work — the showmanship and subject matter as much as the dark sound. Jarvis Cocker turns more to the grotesque than the tragic, but whatever. That’s certainly a better legacy than Dolores O’Riordan.

    And that’s without getting into less tangible influences — The Field Mice being a pretty direct descendant of The Smiths, and Belle & Sebastian drawing in a lot of their work a straight line from The Field Mice. Etc.

  9. JerBear on September 27th, 2008 1:37 pm

    A 6 run 1st?!!? This is insanity! Of course, it’s on a blackout day…

  10. mariners2009 on September 27th, 2008 1:40 pm

    Smiths, yuk. But they did come up with the weird style of song naming that is popular with today’s emo groups.

  11. Mike Snow on September 27th, 2008 1:42 pm

    Hey, what’s with the Moyer post? This is a Smiths thread!

    Moyer could simply get a no decision, Mike. Don’t be so negative.

    Sorry, the negativity was a way of trying to make the comment fit the musical ambiance.

  12. scraps on September 27th, 2008 1:58 pm

    I used to hate the Smiths. It took me a long time to realize that Morrissey was funny. That all that moping morbidity was cut with wryness and self-mockery. Then the music snapped into focus. For me, Johnny Marr is a great melodicist, with a couple dozen immortal riffs and hooks. But of course, if it doesn’t work for you it doesn’t work.

  13. DIPLOMATIC SHARK on September 27th, 2008 1:58 pm

    Wow, I’ve been reading for two years just waiting for a post about the Smiths.

    The striking thing about the Smiths has always been the contrast of Johnny Marr’s relentlessly upbeat backing track with Morrissey’s sardonically miserable lyrics and crooning vocals over the top. There are a few songs where the disconnect between the cheery music and the lyrical subject matter is extreme enough to be hilarious; here I’m thinking of “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “Ask”.

    These days, that mix of oddly incongruous vocals, literate lyrics, and extremely hooky songwriting is pretty common. And I can’t really think of an example of a new wave or post-punk act that really did that before the Smiths did, which puts a whole lot of bands solidly in the Smiths tradition if you ask me. Examples include the Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman, most of the Elephant 6 bands (NMH, OTC, EP?), the Decemberists, and those are just the ones that come immediately to mind. The Smiths really blazed the trail for those bands.

    And on top of all that, I think that the kind of jangly-but-affected multilayered guitar sound that Marr so effortlessly jammed out was pretty important in getting legions of post-punk bands to lay off the synths. Would My Bloody Valentine exist without Johnny Marr? Arguable!

    But the Smiths are a pretty unique band, so I can understand DMZ’s puzzlement: their sound seems almost like a dead end, a curious offshoot of rock music that didn’t lead to a whole lot of interesting imitators like the big game-changers did. I can understand that, but nevertheless, the 2005 White Sox won the World Series with an unrepeatable combination of Cliff Politte and Jon Garland pitching like Mark Buehrle, Scott Podsednik somehow convincing people he wasn’t terrible, and Ozzie Guillen cussing liberally over the jangling rhythm of it all. I loved watching it and, like it or not, their success influenced the play of subsequent teams, but I wouldn’t want to see anyone try it again.

  14. Mike Snow on September 27th, 2008 2:04 pm

    Wow, a musical history lesson that ties back into baseball, that has to be the comment of the day.

  15. giuseppe on September 27th, 2008 2:05 pm

    Diplomatic Shark,

    Wow. Just, wow.

    Comment of the day nomination seconded.

  16. DIPLOMATIC SHARK on September 27th, 2008 2:31 pm

    Just wait till I explain the subtle but striking connections between the ’88 Athletics and “Appetite for Destruction”.

    Seriously though, if it ever gets out that I compared the ’05 Sox to the Smiths, A.J. Pierzynski will kill my family.

  17. Colm on September 27th, 2008 3:32 pm

    Is there a game?

  18. Colm on September 27th, 2008 3:33 pm

    Radio only? I buy a TV with three bloody games left in the season and one of them is radio only? I want a third of my money back!

    (or maybe they’re doing me a favor)

  19. Colm on September 27th, 2008 3:35 pm

    F**king block quotes; I’m trying this again.

  20. Colm on September 27th, 2008 3:38 pm


    To me, growing up as a post-punk/new wave kid in the Midwest…

    You should read “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azarrad; you’d probably get a kick out of it.

  21. Paul B on September 27th, 2008 3:52 pm

    The M’s won, if anyone cares.

    RRS and Green pitched decently.

    (I was thinking that a game thread needed to have one message about the game.)

  22. terry on September 27th, 2008 3:53 pm

    I’m wondering what would be worse-watching the Ms screw the pooch on getting the #1 pick or watching them screw the pooch with their #1 pick?

  23. Mister on September 27th, 2008 3:55 pm

    Mr. Strasburg goes to Washington (Smith reference)…the double play Lidge just induced probably wrapped that up.

  24. msb on September 27th, 2008 4:23 pm


    so, think the A’s are losing on purpose to thwart the Mariner Dream?

  25. Shuchu on September 27th, 2008 4:32 pm

    Stick to baseball, DMZ. When it comes to music, your talent evaluation skills rival the Mariners’ organization. You might wonder why I am bothering to defend a band that has been dead for 20 years (on a baseball blog no less). It is because Morrissey was an Ichiro-like, once in a generation genius (as was Marr), and I am as offended by your passive aggressive swipe at him as you would be if someone said “I don’t get this Ichiro guy, he’s just a singles hitter with a big mouth”. If you were really interested in why The Smiths were important, influential, etc… there has been plenty written on the subject; start with the All Music Guide. Like them or not, The Smiths have earned their place in music history, and if you don’t “get” them, you don’t “get” music. Save your derision and snark for baseball, there are plenty of easy targets there in Seattle.

  26. Jeff Nye on September 27th, 2008 4:40 pm


  27. Wallingfjord on September 27th, 2008 4:43 pm

    Shucho said to DMZ, regarding the Smiths…

    … if you don’t “get” them, you don’t “get” music.

    Well then! As anonymous broad swipes and vast oversimplification goes, that pretty much takes it.

  28. IndieSnob on September 27th, 2008 4:49 pm

    While Morrisey definitely has his own cult following, I think most music critics/historians pin their importance on Johnny Mar’s guitar styling and playing.

    Oh, and I am just as disappointed in the new Mogwai. Sadly they’ll never be able to come close to what they achieved with Young Team. At least Sonic Youth started becoming consistent again after NYC Ghost & Flowers.

  29. milquetoast on September 27th, 2008 4:57 pm

    How can anyone not think Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is brilliant? It describes your feelings about the Mariners perfectly, admit it.

    I disagree that historians pin their importance on Marr’s styling and playing. In fact, I think in the past ten years, the consensus has switched from Marr to Morrissey being the “genius” of the smiths (like how jay farrar was supposed to be the better member of Uncle Tupelo and not Jeff Tweedy, or how jason pierce used to be the least important member of spacemen 3 and is now somehow the genius one because of spiritualized). It hasn’t helped Marr’s cause that he’s been in a slew of shitty bands (electronic, etc) since. There was a nytimes review of a solo Morrissey album not too long ago written by stephen merritt (of the magnetic fields, a superb lyricist himself) who said that Morrissey is the best rock lyricist. I don’t know if I agree fully, but it’s certainly a debatable point. I mean with song titles like “the more you ignore me, the closer I get” or my personal favorite, “you’re the one for me fatty,” he’s certain to garner some votes.

  30. terry on September 27th, 2008 5:11 pm

    Anyone who doesn’t think “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” is a solid album not only doesn’t understand music (really they should get out from behind their computers and watch more music) but [they also get their political commentary on USSM deleted]

  31. mln on September 27th, 2008 5:32 pm

    Speaking of music, why isn’t the artistry of Lawrence Welk and his band not getting more love from peeps here?

  32. NBarnes on September 27th, 2008 5:41 pm

    I gotta go with terry. If liking the Cranberries is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  33. Shuchu on September 27th, 2008 5:49 pm

    “Well then! As anonymous broad swipes and vast oversimplification goes, that pretty much takes it.”

    Yeah, also I love the fact that my entry, which accuses DMZ of snark is so … snarky and dismissive. Oh well. Morrissey had a pretty good fastball, and certainly could hit better than Jose Vidro. Look, picking anonymous fights on blogs is ridiculous and boring. I humbly ask that anyone who “takes music seriously” listen to the smiths with an open mind.

  34. DMZ on September 27th, 2008 5:51 pm

    What’s funny is that I wrote the game thread intro while smiling about two pitchers named Smith, and then the Smiths, and reading the comments I actually thought “huh, that’s true, I remember how the music always seemed good even as… yeah, and that’s true, too… I should go check it out.”

    And then I got to that response and I thought “well, fuck that then.”


    w/r/t the Cranberries: I didn’t mean that the Cranberries sucked — I listened to that album too — but that if you read the Wikipedia article I linked to, it comes off as if they’re the one direct legacy, and the Cranberries weren’t world-changing themselves, either.

  35. DMZ on September 27th, 2008 5:53 pm

    What does it matter if I listen to The Smiths with an open mind now? My ignorance of their greatness so obviously condemns my taste as worthless that even if I did and loved them it would only tarnish their legacy.

  36. DIPLOMATIC SHARK on September 27th, 2008 6:03 pm

    Shuchu you have broken Morrissey’s heart by so boorishly defending him. Next year his tRA is going to be through the roof and it’ll be all your fault. Maybe he’ll be too depressed to even put his hand in glove.

  37. msb on September 27th, 2008 6:25 pm

    Speaking of music, why isn’t the artistry of Lawrence Welk and his band not getting more love from peeps here?

    The only thing wrong with the Lawrence Welk resort?

    Not enough Welkian tschotchkes.

  38. KaminaAyato on September 27th, 2008 6:29 pm

    Um. I hate to break up your music discussion and all but…

    We’re not in last place anymore are we? And now we have to hope for a M’s loss and a Nats win, right?

    I don’t suppose this would be the final insult to a complete and utter fail of a season, would it?

    And I’m really sorry if all of you were discussing music to get away from this issue.

  39. pgreyy on September 27th, 2008 6:30 pm

    Well, DMZ, if it makes you feel better…there’s a significant chunk of England that thinks Morrissey is a racist or a Nazi.

    (And thanks to this thread, I’ve had “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” running in my head all day…which, I realize, is a Morrissey solo hit…but it seemed appropriate with all of this week’s Ichiro/clubhouse chemistry soap opera going on…)

    And, while I like The Smiths just fine, I certainly understand that there are many (especially in the US, compared to the UK–where they actually impacted mainstream popular culture) who weren’t ever going to be fans.

    I do think that it was the combined efforts of The Smiths and R.E.M. who helped keep “modern rock” from becoming nothing but synthesizers and drum machines. It was guitar rock for people who weren’t going to bang their heads.

    But, far be it from me to dictate someone else’s tastes in much of anything–you love who you love, and you can’t argue someone into loving something (or someone.)

    –and, besides, if one were to apply the same rigorous devotion to metrics when considering popular music that we do to baseball, would the favorite artists of USS Mariner have to be Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jeff Foxworthy and Boxcar Willie?

    Or are total sales the equivalent of batting averages or ERA?

    pg–former co-manager of Orpheum on Broadway

    PS–Oh…and, answering this from hours ago…

    You should read “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azarrad; you’d probably get a kick out of it.

    Bought it in hardcover when it came out–and I know more than a few of the people covered in it personally. :) It’s a fascinating chapter of American pop cultural history that a significant amount of people totally relate to, while an even larger amount of people never knew existed.

    …and a good read, too.

  40. TomTuttle on September 27th, 2008 6:31 pm

    Geez, it’s bad enough that Lincoln and Armstrong are staying, but now we are going to lose out on Strasburg?

    This weekend sucks.

  41. Paul B on September 27th, 2008 6:33 pm

    Does anyone actually think the Nats would pick the best available talent in the draft?

  42. jephdood on September 27th, 2008 6:57 pm

    I’m going over to the VH1 forums to talk about the game.

  43. kyoko on September 27th, 2008 7:36 pm

    Colm – thanks for mentioning the Fall – I found an old 7 inch of Totally Wired and listened to it in the first inning while we scored six runs. Matching the music you’re listening to while watching the game is really important. My top 10 songs to watch the Mariners by this year have been:

    Neil Young – Without Rings
    The Clash – Straight to Hell
    Lou Reed – Endless Cycle
    Husker Du – Too Far Down
    Johny Cash – Sea of Heartbreak
    Wilco – I am Trying to Break Your Heart (for Felix starts)
    Leonard Choen – I was Never Any Good (for Cairo at bats)
    Dimmer – I Believe You are a Star (for Bloomquist at bats)
    David Kilgour – I am Going to Get Better (for Silva starts)
    Johny Cash – I Hung My head (for Sexson at bats)

  44. scott19 on September 27th, 2008 7:55 pm

    If you had to get a ’80′s British band from a similar vein, you’re better to get The Housemartins — way more sarcastically political, IMHO.

  45. msb on September 27th, 2008 8:11 pm

    You can wag your finger till your finger’s sore

  46. mln on September 27th, 2008 8:15 pm

    “I’m going over to the VH1 forums to talk about the game.”

    Me too. The pod people have taken over and turned everyone into musical aesthetes. ;)

  47. G-MOTA on September 27th, 2008 9:03 pm

    Hey man. Long-time, first-time.

    I’m not a huge Smiths fan but I feel compelled to add to the posts above that da Smithz had a real gift for melody. I don’t know how you “measure these things” either, of course. But their perverse sensibility and nuance of mood are expressed melodically in a way most pop bands — especially most white-boy-w/-guitar-bands — don’t bother with. Most of the time the harmony determines the melody, and to my ear in the Smiths canon melody is determining the harmony. This characteristic is not intrinsically “good,” but it is interesting, or anyway unusual.

  48. howiekendrickexperience on September 27th, 2008 9:36 pm

    Andy Stallings,

    Chilton post-Replacements? You mean Chilton post-Big Star or…? I think you’re confused.

  49. joser on September 27th, 2008 11:08 pm

    Well, it was a nice day so I missed this thread. And I’m kind of glad, because music is so personal and subjective that I never really liked conversations where somebody tried to “rate” a band or formed an opinion about a person based on whether they liked or appreciated the “right” bands, whatever those are.

    I was never a huge Smiths fan, but I understood some of the people that were. If you were out in the 80s, or trying to come out, Morrissey was something of a role model (and certainly a better one than the Village People or Boy George). He was a mope, sure, but a witty one {Trudging slowly over wet sand / Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen? C’mon!) And did there live any teenage guy, gay or straight, shy or geeky or just not one of the beautiful people, who couldn’t listen to “How Soon is Now” without relating, at least little bit? A song which, not incidentally, also had a killer riff, one of the most distinctive in the last quarter century. That was all Marr, but he was the impressionistic Jimmy Paige to Morrissey’s glum Robert Plant. The band was what it was because of both of them. (And no, I’m not saying the Smiths are anything close to the same league as Led Zep on any scale, just that sometimes the sum is more than the parts.)

    As to the legacy, well, who can really say? Would Radiohead’s “Creep” exist in quite the same way if The Smiths had never existed? Morrissey made a career out of sounding depressed and lamenting his imperfections; in a decade dominated by Miami Vice pastels and candy print spandex, of flocks of haircuts and hair metal, of “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” he was the guy sitting in the corner, missing out on the party, complaining about nothing in particular, and going home alone. So when all of that pop culture got kicked to the curb in 90s, by a genre wrapped in flannel and its own peculiar self-absorbed but cacophonous melancholy, can we hear the faintest echo of what went before? Now, I don’t want to overstate that — I was there, some of those Bands Who Could Be Your Life were people I hung out with at the time, and I know they weren’t sitting around listening obsessively to “Suedehead” and “Meat is Murder.” But they got where he was coming from, some more than others, and it wasn’t a place where you partied all the time. Morrissey (along with Ian Curtis and a few others) made it safe (again) for guys to sing about their own failings and failures in songs that weren’t blues or country. For somebody like Cobain, that may have mattered. (It’s probably worth mentioning that Charles Cross, in “Heavier than Heaven,” says that when Nirvana was pissed off because they were told to perform “Smells Like Team Spirit” for Top of the Pops Cobain decided to sing it “in a slowed-down, almost Vegas-like lounge version; he was attempting, he later claimed, to sound like Morrissey.”)

  50. Dave on September 27th, 2008 11:10 pm

    Let it be known that I have no idea who any of these people are that you’re talking about. I’d never heard of “The Smiths” until this post, and I doubt I’ll ever think about them again.

    So, take heart, fellow baseball nerds who could care less about this thread – you’re welcome here too.

  51. scott19 on September 27th, 2008 11:12 pm

    The pod people have taken over

    No, make that the i-pod people! :)

  52. DHRjericho on September 29th, 2008 12:10 pm

    I can understand people not liking the Smiths but to say they haven’t influenced many bands seems a bit misinformed. You may not like these bands but i’d say they’ve all been influenced by the Smiths (mostly they say they have)
    Radiohead, Suede (The London Suede in the US), Ride, Travis, Belle & Sebastian, Blur, The Stone Roses, Stars, The Dears, Doves, Decemberists, Coldplay, Oasis, The Sundays, Magnetic Fields.

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