Johnny Marr Autobiography

by Joseph Sarrington Smith

Johnny Marr’s long awaited autobiography ‘Set The Boy Free’ is released today. Referring to the title, Marr says “I wanted to convey a feeling of breaking free, that has been a constant throughout my life. A feeling that expresses itself as escape and discovery…I found it through Rock’n’Roll and art, and a journey living both in the modern world.”

I honestly think Johnny Marr is one of the greatest British songwriters of all time. He’s also an incredible guitarist, and I admire the work he’s done as a member of the bands Electronic, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. But, it’s his unmistakable jangly Rickenbacker and Fender Telecaster guitar playing in The Smiths that I enjoy the most.

Three years ago, we got Morrissey’s autobiography, which surprisingly (?!) was called ‘Autobiography’, and now it’s Marr’s turn to have his say.

I recently caught part of a BBC interview with Marr, where he talked about the time he met up with Morrissey in a pub in 2008. In his words, it was a really nice get-together and there was no acrimony or angst. Over the years, there have been (and probably still are) rumours about The Smiths reforming, so inevitably this came up in conversation. He was happy to see his old partner and vice versa. They hugged, they texted for the next few days. Then their communication stopped, which apparently it does; “fits and starts” as Marr put it. Marr made no mention of them having spoken or met up again to further discuss a potential reunion since that initial meeting…

Eight years later, and The Smiths still haven’t reformed. Perhaps they never will. Or perhaps they’ll surprise us all and reform next year as a way of celebrating the 30th anniversary of their split? I’m sure there are many fans who believe theirs is a legacy best left alone. And despite that apparently cordial meeting, there have been a few clues that suggest that the tension might still be there, including Marr’s reply when asked why he hadn’t read Morrissey’s autobiography: “I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of books to get through”.

Colour me intrigued. I’m off to get my copy…

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