Next week, guitarist Johnny Marr will receive the fabulously titled "Godlike Genius Award" at a ceremony hosted by the British music magazine NME. It will honor a life spent largely in the shadows, off to stage left, supporting some of the biggest band leaders in rock history: Chrissy Hynde, David Byrne, and most famously, Morrissey. Together, Marr and Morrissey founded The Smiths, one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s.
The Smiths shone brightly through four albums, then collapsed in spectacular fashion 1987 with a flurry of insults and lawsuits. This week, Johnny Marr is doing something he's rarely done in his esteemed career — releasing an album of his own. His new solo LP is called The Messenger, and he spoke about it with NPR's Jacki Lyden. Hear the radio version by clicking the audio link on this page, and read more of their conversation below.
JACKI LYDEN: Writing for your own voice, you control the narrative. Do you write differently for yourself than you did when you were more of a sideman?
JOHNNY MARR: I've learned to write music for my own voice — my own actual singing voice. I think "narrative" is a good word. This record wasn't a case of me deciding it would be a good thing to do a solo record and then setting about doing it. What happened was, around the end of 2010 I started to get a lot of ideas and notions about things that would be good to write songs about. TBC... Follow the link above.