Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
If you Google “perfect Smiths song,” you’ll find a lot of different titles – “The Boy with the Thorn in his Side,” “How Soon Is Now,” “I Won’t Share You,” “Half a Person,” and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” just to name the results on the first page. But some opinions are bigger than others, and in lead singer Morrissey’s opinion, the perfect Smiths song – or at least, in his words, “very close indeed” – was “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.” Allmusic.com calls it “a minimal yet lush two minutes of almost otherworldly beauty… Almost impenetrably sad, [it’s] a masterpiece both musically and emotionally.”
Starting life as a Johnny Marr instrumental called “The Irish Waltz,” the song became something more once Morrissey sang his lyrics of longing in a voice far gentler and quieter than his usual melodramatic croon. “Please Please Please” turned into a hymn to the art of pining and yearning, the anthem of the unrequited lover, cf. Duckie in Pretty in Pink. And it did so in a minute and fifty seconds, making it the shortest Smiths song ever. Why so short? Morrissey explained:
When we first played it to Rough Trade, they kept asking, “where’s the rest of the song?” But to me, it’s like a very brief punch in the face. Lengthening the song would, to my mind, have simply been explaining the blindingly obvious.
Even though it started life as a mere B-side (“sinful,” Morrissey later admitted), the song has had a rich life, landing on best-ofs, soundtracks, and other collections. It’s been covered dozens of times, and Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time it’s been featured here at Cover Me. Consider these five covers like the work of five pastry chefs, all determined to show you what they can create with a little bittersweet chocolate.
Janice Whaley – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths cover)
Janice Whaley is responsible for one of the greatest labors of love in music-fan history. She spent 2010 recording all 71 officially released Smiths songs, in a capella arrangements between 30 and 50 layers deep. The results are still available, and still otherworldly. If you’ve not heard her before, let her take on “Please Please Please” be the first of many times you do.
The Junkyard Liberty – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths cover)
A Dreadful Sunny Day is one of the dozens of tribute albums that The Blog That Celebrates Itself label has released. This is an all-Smiths one (find it here), and it has not one but two covers of “Please Please Please.” The one by Lur Lur is nice, but the Junkyard Liberty one is prettier and, to my mind, more evocative.
Hootie and the Blowfish – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths cover)
You wouldn’t peg Hootie and the Blowfish to do such a faithful cover of “Please Please Please.” But that’s just what the fellas from South Carolina do for the men from Manchester. This appears on the 2000 collection Scattered, Smothered and Covered, featuring all covers from A (“Araby” by the Reivers) to Z (Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do”).
Muse – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths cover)
Looking for a louder take on “Please Please Please”? Look no further than Muse. Their version appeared on the soundtrack to Not Another Teen Movie, which collected alt-rock covers of ’80s acts. What the song loses in ethereal beauty, it gains in volume, and it still has just as much impact – just a different kind, is all.
Puddles Pity Party – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths cover)
Puddles does it again! The Sad Clown With The Golden Voice (™, probably) finds the notes that raise goosebumps on the backs of necks worldwide in his cover. The instrumental backing is quite nice, it must be said, but there’s no doubt who the star of this arrangement is – nor, for that matter, who it deserves to be.
If you want the original, please please please get it at Amazon.