The Smiths were in place for just five years and four albums. However, in that period, they made an unparalleled impact during their short run as a band. Between Morrissey’s characteristically melancholic lyrics and the innovative guitar contributions of Johnny Marr, the four-piece remains widely accepted as one of the most influential bands in alternative music.
With his signature voice and unrelenting nonsense-spouting, frontman-turned-soloist Morrissey has become the most public-facing member of the band. Nonetheless, Marr’s guitar talent was just as integral to The Smiths’ distinctive sound as Morrissey’s vocals.
With the melodic riffs with excessive use of arpeggio, Marr’s guitar was simultaneously jangly and melancholic. His riffs were particularly stirring, intricate and moody to form the perfect backdrop for his songwriting partner’s sorrowful words.
From the reverb-infused ‘How Soon Is Now?’ to the iconic opening of ‘This Charming Man’, Marr is the mind behind some of the most iconic indie riffs of all time, endlessly lauded and covered by budding guitarists worldwide. But there’s one Smiths song that Marr places above the rest.
During a live interview for the Guardian Live at London’s The Barbican, Marr explained which The Smiths track contains his favourite The Smiths riff. The guitarist notes that he is often asked to divulge his favourite Smiths song, to which he has always responded ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’.
Explaining his reasoning, he cites the song’s “transcendent, esoteric, spiritual quality”, an aspect of music he says means “so much” to him via Far Out Magazine. Marr praises his band members, suggesting this quality was “captured not just by me but by every member of the band” before going on to play the riff live for his audience.
The full track features a lengthy opening with a striking guitar section, floating just above samples of the screams and shouts of miners from the strikes between 1984 and ’85. At just under two minutes, the intro subsides into sparkling guitar tones and Morrissey’s gloomy vocals, as he laments, “Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me, no hope, no harm, just another false alarm”. The song ends with Morrissey’s oscillating, delicate vocals, as he reapers, “It goes on and on, it goes on and on”.
Contrary to Morrissey’s closing words, the 1987 track ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ was billed as The Smiths’ final single. Featuring as the third and final single from their fourth and final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come, the song was released following the band’s break-up earlier that year.
It received little commercial success but has been admired and appreciated by critics and the band themselves – Morrissey has also previously named ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ as his favourite The Smiths song.