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A Light That Never Goes Out: Tony Fletcher on The Smiths

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Hudson Valley-based rock journalist Tony Fletcher, author of A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths.

Thanks to a short but brilliant run of greatness, a rash of timeless songs, and focused self-mythologizing by their eternally fascinating frontman, The Smiths remain a cultural touchstone more than 25 years since their acrimonious breakup.

The musical partnership forged in Manchester by Steve Morrissey and Johnny Marr helped forge a new path through the Thatcher years, adding literate lyrics and prodigious musicianship to the post-punk pop music landscape.

Even before they had accomplished anything, The Smiths sensed greatness — despite Marr’s youth and Morrissey’s idle existence and often paralyzing depression.

They would go on to five years of typical rock drama: canceled tours, jealousies, heroin. But they also scaled the charts and got themselves into the historical conversation with the likes of Britain’s greatest bands before a final blowout in 1987.

The last time we spoke with Fletcher was in 2010, when we discussed the music of the New York City streets. Also a writer of fiction, Fletcher has written about R.E.M., Who drummer Keith Moon, and The Clash.

A Light That Never Goes Out  is published by Crown.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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