Morrissey, Everyday Is Like Sunday (1988)

MorrisseyEverydayIsLikeSunday

Artist: Morrissey
Title: Everyday Is Like Sunday
Description: single; album track, Viva Hate
Label: HMV
Release date: 1988
First heard: 1988

I will always look upon my relationship with The Smiths as special. It was a case of good timing. Conveniently releasing their four studio albums to coincide with my four years in higher education, they really did help me get through my exams. I graduated in 1987 and so did Morrissey.

In 1988, he released – rush-released, or so it felt, just six months after Strangeways and yet so fully formed – Viva Hate, his solo debut, which heralded a new dawn with a tinted photo not of an obscure icon from Morrissey’s hall of fame but of the lad himself, his eyes obscured under the shadow of those granite brows. Although recently divorced from Johnny Marr, he’d enlisted Smiths engineer and Strangeways producer Stephen Street for continuity and Durutti Column architect Vini Reilly to fill in the spectral guitar magic. The result: sparkling lead-off single Suedehead, which may as well have been The Smiths.

More surprising delights awaited us on the album, the biggest of which was Everyday Is Like Sunday, an instantaneous new favourite on first listen and an abiding highlight from his rich solo catalogue in the years since. A great swoon of a song, it tugs my heartstrings and forces my gaze skywards, or seawards, whenever I hear it. It frames one of his most succinctly evocative lyrics, right up there with the vivid brushstrokes of Rusholme Ruffians, This Charming Man and The Headmaster Ritual, and no less economical.

That its bittersweet requiem for the spiritual vacuum of a “coastal town they forgot to close down” has its literary roots in John Betjeman and Nevil Shute is typical magpie Moz. Wet sand, pebbles, a bench, stolen clothes, the promenade, the etched postcard, “greased tea” and that glittering prize of a “cheap tray” – this is poetry by any other name, just set to a tune capable of giving even the stout-hearted the vapours. (It’s closest cousin in the Smiths’ repertoire has to be There Is A Light.) The “strange dust” that lands on Morrissey’s companion’s hand and face may well reference the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, whose radiation clouds were figurative if not actual over Europe and in recent memory in ’87 when it was recorded; the fallout certainly stops this being a snooty attack on the English seaside and takes it into a whole new dimension of existential dread.

I remember visiting Teignmouth in Devon some time in the late 90s (drawn there because a friend at Q grew up there and whose parents still, I think, ran the local cinema). It was definitively off-season, silent and grey, and I was filled to the brim with this song as I walked its promenade and leaned on its railings. I have always liked to be beside the seaside – Welsh rather than English throughout the cherished holidays of my boyhood, although some say Moz was inspired to write by a visit to Borth in Mid-Wales. Either way, I can’t call up any other song that so deftly crystallises the windswept allure of the British coast and its lost horizons.

What I find most fascinating about this particular song, which nestles among many notable achievements in this rush and a push for new territory (Late Night Maudlin Street, Margaret On The Guillotine, Dial-A-Cliché) is that it as good as eschews the dominance of the guitar. The six-part string section provides the riffs, rich and luxuriant, whipping like wind on a shelter when Morrissey sings of the “coastal town” and swelling around him as we reach the chorus. Reilly and Street sympathetically underpin with bass and guitar – and, credit where credit’s due, Andrew Paresi provides some surgically tumbling drums – but the overriding orchestral infrastructure of Sunday seems as if it could be a rebuke from Morrissey to the Rickenbacker of his once vital ex-partner. He seems to be saying:

“Look, Marr, top of the world!”

I shall, of course, be inducting a Smiths tune into The 143 presently.

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5 thoughts on “Morrissey, Everyday Is Like Sunday (1988)

  1. Hello. I came late to the Smiths. I am not an early adopter, and typically waited for them to split before I fully grasped the ‘point’. I was 16 in 1988 and I remember watching the video of this on the Chart Show and FINALLY thinking ‘here’s a feeling I recognise’. How I love the melancholy of the British seaside. Although Sundays are not what they were – which is a good thing for teenagers I suspect.

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  2. We sometimes holidayed with an aunt who lived in Heacham (late ’70s / early ’80s). Even peak season, some of the slleepy Norfolk coastal towns were like that, particularly Cromer (great waves though!).

    One day we waded out into the Wash, returned covered in black oil & my mum threw away our sandals in annoyance, so we had to walk all the way back bare-foot. When we finally reached a standpipe, it was only sticky black sand…

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  3. I saw the video to this song being filmed in Southend on Sea as I walked into town one midweek lunch break from my job at the loss adjusters (although I only realised what had been filmed when I saw it on Top of the Pops or whatever). So, wherever Morrissey may have written it about, it’s always a dig at my home town in my mind. Great song though.

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  4. lovely review Andrew, one thing to add is a reminder of the significance of the title. In “everyday is like sunday” Morrissey accidentally caught a world that was about to change. I was at college when the somg came out and can remember how dull sundays could be. This was a time when the pubs shut at 2pm on sunday and didn’t reopen until 7,30pm and then shut early at 10.30pm. If you didn’t drink or pray there was little else to do especially in the provinces, very few shops were open nor were restaurants or cinemas. The bigger museums were open in london but they were a schlep from Surrey where my college was. So we would mooch around in various parks drink earl grey tea in a local National Trust cafe and then go home and listen to Morrissey. So when Moz envisioned a place were everyday was like sunday this was sunday before all day drinking, all day shopping, before multi channel tv, before TV was 24 hour even. A world hard to imagine for people even a few years younger than you or I.

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