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The Roundtable

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.

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