The Smiths

How Soon Is Now?

Song Review by

Probably the most played Morrissey/Marr song of all time, "How Soon Is Now?" is an epic throwback to '60s psychedelia, a lushly produced symphony of Johnny Marr guitar perfection, and perhaps the ultimate statement of Morrissey's bold miserablism. That it's one of the most compelling songs of the 1980s is nearly impossible to deny. Marr's guitar wraps around itself and back again, its tremolo seemingly echoing straight out of an ecstasy-hazed Hacienda. The sole song from Meat Is Murder produced by John Porter, "How Soon Is Now?" certainly seems more dance-oriented than most of the tracks from the Smiths' sophomore album. Mike Joyce's drums virtually mimic a drum machine, as he two-fistedly pounds the same sharp beat for nearly seven minutes. Morrissey exudes confident depression, foregoing the crooning whine present on so many of the band's early songs. He seems relatively detached offering droll lines like "I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar." His lyrics might be hopeless, but he sounds coolly at ease. A semi-jokey whistle that crops up now and again paints the picture of a bold swagger, suggesting that Morrissey knew the band would continue to be revered by a growing army of fans and discussed in tones the British press hadn't used since the Beatles. Along with the more dancefloor-friendly songs of their Manchester peers New Order, the Smiths helped to inspire an entire cache of local talent with the druggy textures of this song, spawning similar genre-hopping outfits like the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays. Though it isn't necessarily indicative of the Smiths' general style, and though die-hard fans might feign disgust at those who instantly label it a favorite, "How Soon Is Now?" etches and rattles with a seemingly timeless sense of cool. So what if it was the first introduction to a mass audience across England's borders? So what if the song makes countless appearances across the band's discography? Any song at once so standoffish and yet so charming deserves as broad an audience as possible.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hatful of Hollow 1984 Sire 6:43
Meat Is Murder 1985 Sire 6:43
The Queen Is Dead 1986 Sire 0:00
The Complete Picture 1992 Warner Bros. 3:27
The Best of the Smiths, Vol. 1 1992 Sire 6:45
Singles 1995 Reprise 6:43
No Image 1995
Various Artists
This Is the 80's [Alex] 1996
Various Artists
WEA International 6:43
Untitled, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Global 6:44
18 New Wave Classics, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 3:53
The Wedding Singer [Original Soundtrack] 1998
Original Soundtrack
Maverick / Warner Bros. 6:41
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 4:01
MTV the First 1000 Years: New Wave 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 6:42
On the Edge [Razor & Tie] 2000
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:55
Doubleshot: Modern Rock 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:56
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Universal] 2000
Various Artists
Universal International 6:46
The Very Best of the Smiths 2001 Warner Music / WEA International 6:46
Modern Edge 2003
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 6:45
Drive Time [Universal/WB] 2005
Various Artists
WEA / Warner Special Marketing 6:44
Sounds of the Underground [Time/Life] 2005
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 6:48
The Rock 'N' Roll Rider: Jack Lives Here 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 6:46
The Sound of the Smiths 2008 Sire / Rhino / Warner Music 6:46
Complete 2011 Rhino / Warner Bros. 6:47
80 Hits of the '80s
Various Artists
Alt Rock [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 3:40