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Back On The Chain Gang

Morrissey appeared this week on The Late, Late Show With James Corden, giving a bravura, if clap-happy, performance of his new single, a cover version of ‘Back On The Chain Gang’.

Originally released in 1982 by The Pretenders, written and sung by the indomitable Chrissie Hynde, I’ve always liked this up-tempo melancholic pop song musing wistfully-angrily on the discovery of ‘a picture of you’ that ‘hijacked my world last night’.

But I hadn’t realised until now how… Smithsian it sounds.

Morrissey: Back on the Chain Gang

So much so, that you think Moz has changed some of the lyrics. But on checking it turns out to be very little, just a pronoun here and there. The most substantial change seems to be:

'In the wretched life of a lonely heart' 

to

'Lonely hearts, lonely hearts'

Morrissey-esque turns of phrase like: 

The phone, the TV and the News of the World 
Got in the house like a pigeon from hell, oh oh oh oh

Or the sun-shines-out-of-our-behinds exhilarating extravagance of:

The powers that be 
That force us to live like we do 
Bring me to my knees 
When I see what they've done to you 
But I'll die as I stand here today 
Knowing that deep in my heart 
They'll fall to ruin one day 
For making us part

Turn out to be pure Hynde. I just hadn’t listened properly before.

But then it’s probably not a coincidence that The Smiths were formed the same year as this catchy-jangly, bitter-sweet, poetic-dramatic pop song was released.

For the next few days only, Saint Morrissey is available on Kindle for just 99 cents/pence.