IntroduCtIo n
How Soon Is Now?
take my title from the 1984 song by the legendary
Manchester band The Smiths. If you know only
one Smiths song, this is probably the one: it’s in-
stantly recognizable to anyone who lived through
’80s club days or listens now to that soundtrack in
the current ’80s revival. The song’s massive, quiver-
ing guitar sound and its length (over six and a half
minutes) make it different from the band’s other
briefer and more melodic songs, but its lyrics and
vocals are classic Smiths, featuring the lovelorn,
melancholy persona of the lead singer, Morrissey. As
so often in the Smiths songbook, he poses a question
with a particularly desirous urgency: “When you say
it’s gonna happen now, / Well, when exactly do you
mean?” Evoking the impatience, frustration, and
desperation engendered by yet another lonely night
at a dance club, Morrissey wails, “See, I’ve already
waited too long, / And all my hope is gone.”1
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