In the Weekend Review section of today's Irish Times, an interview with Sean Campbell about his new book on second-generation Irish musicians gets full-page attention:
- IN OCTOBER 1986 I had the fortune to meet The Smiths as they prepared for a concert in the small northern English town of Carlisle. On the surface we had little in common. I was a quiet 15-year-old with a school notebook in my hand; they were the hippest band of the decade, exuding a special confidence after the success of their album The Queen Is Dead . But I felt we had at least one thing in common, for, like Morrissey and Johnny Marr – and many of England’s other major pop figures, including John Lydon of the Sex Pistols and Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners – I had grown up in an Irish family in England.
Twenty years later I got in touch with Marr, among many others, as I began work on a book that tried to answer the question of how their upbringings have informed the lives and work of the second-generation Irish who have been at the heart of British pop.
What my interviews and archival work came to show was that although the musicians pursued very different sounds and styles, from pop to punk, and from soul to folk, they share a sense of the role of Irish ethnicity, as both a creative wellspring and a burden, in their lives and work. Marr, for example, explains that as a second-generation Irish youth he had been steeped in Irish culture. Recalling the weekly musical events in his parents’ house, Marr says, “As the night wore on, invariably the music got sadder, and that time was a really magical time for me, because the music got really interesting”, taking on what he calls an “other-worldly” or “spook-like” quality. He says the melodies from these “sad Irish tunes” and the often morbid mood of this migrant culture “definitely went into [him] and The Smiths”.
When he was writing music for The Smiths Marr would often reflect on his Irish upbringing, sensing that it offered a creative source. “As I started to write more and more music, and then go to Ireland with The Smiths, I was like, ‘Hang on a minute, there’s a thing that I do here, an aspect that is coming from that place that I had as a kid that is pretty powerful and that is a part of what I’m about,’ so I drew from it, and I wanted to acknowledge it,” he says. “There are certain things in The Smiths’ music that nail that emotional place and that evocative time for me. The best example of it is Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want , which is very much a case of me missing my home when I was living in London and almost writing this sort of musical letter to my mother.” In the song, which was originally called The Irish Waltz , Marr expresses his homesickness by echoing the sound and mood of his Irish-immigrant childhood.
Morrissey’s lyrics, on the other hand, sought to evoke the marginality he had felt as a second-generation Irish youth in Britain, such as in the opening lines of Never Had No One Ever: “When you walk without ease / On these / streets where you were raised.” “It was the frustration I felt at the age of 20,” he says, “when I still didn’t feel easy walking around the streets on which I’d been born, where all my family had lived. They’re originally from Ireland but had been here since the 1950s. It was a constant confusion to me why I never really felt, ‘This is my patch. This is my home. I know these people. I can do what I like, because this is mine.’ It never was. I could never walk easily.”... - http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0402/1224293607057.html
So were the threats The Smiths received from republican paramilitaries or loyalist groupings? Not clear in the title, not explained in article and I don't have the book! When I read the title I just assumed the threats were from the IRA seeing as The Smiths were English, but it makes more sense in light of Morrissey's comments about regretting that Thatcher wasn't killed that these threats may have come from loyalists. Cheers in advance.