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The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  781 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The definitive book on the music of British glam-rock icons The Smiths. One of the seminal groups of the Eighties, The Smiths' career was as brilliant as it was brief. Now, drawing on interviews with band members, producers, and colleagues, music journalist Simon Goddard presents a meticulous chronological survey of the group's musical evolution, from their first demos in ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Reynolds & Hearn
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May 26, 2013 April rated it really liked it
The root cause of my love for these four really dates back to first hearing Frankly Mr Shankly on an old record in 2002 (at which point I'd have been about six years old). After that I pretty much fell in love with each of their songs and the harsh reality of life they presented whilst growing more and more enamoured with Morrissey but well never mind, never mind. I curse myself for not existing during the time when these guys were at their prime; by the time I was able to appreciate them in ful ...more
Tim Chaplin
Feb 03, 2012 Tim Chaplin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the perfect book for fans of the Smiths and Morrissey. Every song, concert or TV appearance is listed and it's a great history of The Smiths from the beginning to the bitter end with the royalty disputes, court cases and the beginning of Morrissey and Marr's solo careers.

I loved it so much that I have started to listen to the complete collection on Spotify "reissue! repackage! repackage!" (Paint a Vulgar Picture).
Jun 12, 2008 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A start-to-finish index of all the songs The Smiths ever played or performed. While you can look up individual songs and just read about your favorites, the book read cover-to-cover provides an overarching look of the band's history. Don't expect a narrative, though; each song listing is a separate entry.
Sep 04, 2008 Corey rated it really liked it
I am obsessed with the Smiths. This is well known. I bought this book (one I've been after for a few years) while in Portland at Powell's City of Books. It's a chronological breakdown of every Smiths song: the where, when, and how of it. Fantastically done, very thorough and with lots of great little stories.
Sep 11, 2007 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Smiths fans
Definitely geared towards the hardcore Smiths fan, this book has all the info & stats on every song they ever recorded/performed... We're not getting any new music out of them, so a deeper knowledge of what we have is the next best thing. For the misunderstood teenager in all of us...
Simon Goddard's "Songs That Saved Your Life" is a reference guide, not a page-turner. It's a song-by-song recording history and breakdown of The Smiths' discography. I consider myself a big Smiths fan, but I gave up 17% into the book (thanks, Kindle).

If you want to know more about the history of a particular recording, this is for you. If you're looking for a coherent history of The Smiths, you should look elsewhere.
Jan 27, 2011 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this after (like many people my age) my life was turned on its head when i first heard "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and after that i became (almost)crazily obsessed with The Smiths (moreso with the (IMO) alien frontman Morrissey). I have to say this is a beautifully written book both professional in its conviction to not read like the gushing ideas of a strong fan who gathered bits and pieces to fomr his take on what happened, But also in the very human approach to not simply make it words ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Shad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Being a middle-aged dude and a Smiths fan since I was 15, it was a fun read.

Interesting to hear the stories behind the songs and I like how it's laid out chronologically. It made me think about how important it is to listen to an album in its entirety as laid out by the artist. I don't do that like I used to now that I use digital media. Also made me miss liner notes. I wish I hadn't sold all my vinyl in 1993.

All in all, I appreciate the book as a fan. The whole thing is like reading a DIY zin
Joe Price
May 30, 2013 Joe Price rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exactly what I was hoping it would be, 'Songs That Saved Your Life' will quench the curiosity of even the most extreme fans of the band. Goddard not only explains the songs themes and meanings, but goes into when, where, how, why, and even each tracks effect and achievement. The level of detail is truly incredible.

Thanks to Goddard I look at The Smiths in a new light and love them more than ever!

I only wish I knew more about the making of music in an attempt to better understand and appreciate
Jack Beltane
Mar 07, 2014 Jack Beltane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a gripping Smiths biography, this is not the book for you. There is plenty of "story" behind and between the songs, but the focus here is on how the songs came together and fit into the five-year career of the band. If you're a big Smiths fan or a fan of "the process" of music, you'll love this book. If you want gossip and interviews, you'd be better off looking somewhere else. Me? I loved it. Despite an angle that could be very dry and boring, Simon Goddard kept it interes ...more
Una guía definitiva para amantes de la banda. Recorre su historia completa (los cinco años) canción por canción, detallando fuentes de las letras, logros técnicos en las grabaciones y las peripecias de los cuatro genios que crearon esos discos tan esenciales. Se puede leer seguido o tomar como referencia, lo cual es una ventaja. Su tono es el de un fan dedicado, definitivamente, lo cual a veces riñe con la calidad de los datos presentados.
Apr 17, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Informative and entertaining, this is almost a biography of the band, following the chronological recording of the Smiths' songs, along with a potted history just to give some background. The book follows them song by song, with slightly more emphasis on the music rather than the lyrics. A great read for any fan of The Smiths.
Nov 10, 2013 Kenickie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I'm a Smiths fanatic so I'm not sure what I was hoping to find out in this book. Not much, really. Although it did lead me to Elizabeth Smart's "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept", which Morrissey has stolen, sometimes word for word, some of my favorite lyrics of his. Smiths fans - pass on this. Trying to take your Smiths fandom to the next level? Go for it.
Glenn Harper
Sep 11, 2008 Glenn Harper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in The Smith and Morrissey.
Great, except for two things. Why is it that people always underate Unloveble? And, in that song, Morrissey quotes a published James Dean letter with the lines "I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside" and "if I seem a little strange, well that's because I am", which Moz biographiers always miss.
Sep 11, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction

This book does exactly what any music biography should aspire to: make you enjoy the music more. I've listened to this music for 25 years, so my experience with it was pretty much set in stone. But Goddard's mini-histories of each song brought a fresh perspective to each tune and had me going back and listening to them like the very first time.
Drew Athans
Mar 20, 2014 Drew Athans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My full and detailed review is on my website:

GREAT book...even if you have the first edition (like I do), you MUST get this updated and revised's far superior in almost every way and essential for any Smiths fan.
Daniel Sevitt
Mar 23, 2014 Daniel Sevitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Acknowledges its debt to Revolution in the Head and then goes on to knock it out of the park. Simply delicious review of song genesis and structure. Written by an unashamed fan for unashamed fans. What a treat.
Craig Mcintyre
Jun 25, 2013 Craig Mcintyre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that could make this any better is complete lyrics, but you can't have everything. For a band who have survived, through legend, for so long it is pitiful how much is genuinely written about them. A good and concise reference guide.
Bryn Powell
Nov 03, 2012 Bryn Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in-depth look at the writing and recording process for every Smiths song ever recorded. Even if you hate Morrissey & Marr the pre-digital tricks pulled off by engineer Stephen Street are worth the admission price alone.
Dec 06, 2008 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brilliantly compiles a chronological encyclopaedia of The Smith's music, performances and television appearances while giving context to some of modern pop-music's most influential music. It's less a biography of a band and more a biography of modern Indie Music's greatest influence.
Edwin Gomez
Jun 05, 2013 Edwin Gomez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Smiths fan this is the ultimate account of how every song was written, recorded and released (or not). It also tells the brief but powerful story of one of the best pop bands of all time. It was written with love and admiration and it was definitely received that way when I read it.
Mar 28, 2013 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic, well-written stroll through every song every written by The Smiths - told in chronological order.
Evan Ross
Long time fan of The Smiths but never knew anything about them other than that Moz was an is a morose vegetarian. This wasn't what I was expecting but still a good read.
Nov 01, 2015 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, even now, nearly 30 years (!) after the event. Brilliantly written with a genuine sense of awe and wonder.
Jun 27, 2013 Gemilia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pop
this was brilliant!! definitely gave an in-depth look at the meanings behind all the songs, but never got into boring territory. would definitely recommend for anyone who considers themselves a fan.
Apr 17, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hagiographic in some spots but a really great look at The Smiths and the songs. The highest praise I can give it is that it made me re-evaluate their debut album.
By far the best Smiths book out there! For those who are actually interested in the music, not the feuds.
Jun 23, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have to be a fan and know the songs to get anything out of it, but being that I did enjoy some "flashback" reading.
I bought this to mark having lived two years past the day I had marked off as for suicide. Appropriate title is appropriate. Anyway, this is a great resource.
Sep 19, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This book is fun. It's become a sort of diary for me, I scribble my favorite lyrics to each song on the pages that song is written about. I pull it out a lot when I'm listening to my Smiths records.
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Simon Goddard is a British music journalist and the author of several books about pop. These include Ziggyology (the origins of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust), Simply Thrilled (the preposterous story of Postcard Records) and Rollaresque (The Rolling Stones retold as a picaresque novel), all published by Ebury.

His 2009 Mozipedia, an encyclopedia of Morrissey and The Smiths – also the subject of his
More about Simon Goddard...

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