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Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

This latest installment of the Lagniappe Sessions hits close to home — Steve Gunn taking on a pair of Smiths tunes. Gunn, in his own words, below. His latest LP, Eyes On The Lines, is out now via Matador.
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A lot of teenage guitar players went straight into metal or prog, but the Smiths were the first guitar band that really spoke to me. Some people hated this band then and still do. Somehow that is pretty understandable. I love them.

When I was a new guitar player, I borrowed a Smiths cassette from my older sister. Johnny Marr’s arrangements mystified me, transfixed me. I felt that they were something I’d never be able to decipher. It wasn’t until later that I started to look into his influences, and I came to understand his playing and arranging, especially in partnership with Morrissey. Plus Johnny looked so damn cool playing that Rickenbacker.

I took an extended break from the Smiths after my teenage years. I kind of grew out of my first phase of love for them and tried to stop feeling so sorry for myself. I lost the passion after the first solo Morrissey album came out. I was on to more formulaic music that in retrospect wasn’t any better—though much easier to play! I no longer had it in me to go and cry at the concerts (I never saw him), or fight for a sliver of Morrissey’s torn shirt. All of that being said, I will always have a deep admiration for this band. I always go back to them.

Steve Gunn :: This Night Has Opened My Eyes (The Smiths)

As a teenager, I did a lot of walking around with my little foam headphones listening to Louder Than Bombs on cassette, using up a lot of AA batteries. This was the first double album I’d ever became acquainted with, and I listened incessantly–forever etching these songs into my memory. Morrissey’s lyrics and sentiment cemented the vision I had of myself as this forlorn figure walking through suburban Philadelphia, back from high school, without much destination. Oh the pain! Ultimately, though, there was always an underlying message of hope in all of these depressing songs, which made me love this band.

Steve Gunn :: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (The Smiths)

This song, from their first self-titled album, stands out because of Morrissey’s vocal delivery. His gothic, folklorish, lonely, dark and ghostly words are there, of course, but the vocals roll along in an almost, dare I say, Dylanesque style. One sentence collides with the next. The album is a favorite of mine because it’s more stripped down that the ones that come after; the Johnny Marr guitar arrangements are simpler, less layered. It wasn’t until their next studio album, Meat is Murder, that he really started layering tracks and finding lush arrangements. A great example is the introduction on the song “How Soon is Now’”—still a constant topic of discussion among guitar freaks and studio nerds across the globe.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen

19 Responses to “The Lagniappe Sessions: Steve Gunn – Smiths Versions”

  1. […] But Gunn’s most formative influence wasn’t, say, John Fahey. It was the Smiths. In a new piece for the Aquarium Drunkard, Gunn writes about how much discovering the Smiths meant to him at a […]

  2. […] The Line”, el año pasado en el legendario sello Matador Records. En un nuevo artículo de Aquarium Drunkard, Gunn escribe sobre cuánto descubrir a The Smiths significó para él en una edad joven. Además, […]

  3. […] But Gunn’s most formative influence wasn’t, say, John Fahey. It was the Smiths. In a new piece for the Aquarium Drunkard, Gunn writes about how much discovering the Smiths meant … More […]

  4. […] But Gunn’s most formative influence wasn’t, say, John Fahey. It was the Smiths. In a new piece for the Aquarium Drunkard, Gunn writes about how much discovering the Smiths meant to him at a […]

  5. Why can’t we download these songs?!?!?!

  6. these are no longer downloadable? 🙁

  7. […] been a devotee since his days as an introspective adolescent in the Philadelphia suburbs. The former Kurt Vile sideman recently tackled two songs by his teen heroes–“This Night Has Opened My Eyes” and “The Hand That Rocks […]

  8. […] home?) Listen to them both at AQ, and read about how Gunn discovered The Smiths at a young age. [ Aquarium Drunkard […]

  9. […] Eyes” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” — for Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe Sessions. Gunn also told them a little about his teenage Smiths […]

  10. […] been a devotee since his days as an introspective adolescent in the Philadelphia suburbs. The former Kurt Vile sideman recently tackled two songs by his teen heroes–“This Night Has Opened My Eyes” and “The Hand That Rocks […]

  11. I love both of these songs…good interpretations, singing, guitarwork.

  12. Can’t download anymore? Podcast as well?

  13. sniff sniff…im old school (which means too old to change) id like to be able to download it onto my puter.

  14. @jason – only this session (per his label), rest will be business as usual.

  15. You were like 8 years old when The Smiths broke up. And Louder Than Bombs was all on one cassette. You don’t have to try so hard to be cool. Great music tho!

  16. Where can I get the 8-track?

  17. @ Moz: Just because it was on one cassette, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a double album. You don’t have to try so hard to sound old.

  18. Steve Gunn is an awesome musician, The Smiths or no The Smiths.

  19. “This Night…” has always been a hugely underrated song in the Smiths catalog. Love this rendition. So happy to hear it resurface.

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