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The vicious song The Smiths wrote about a record label executive


Although some might have you believe that the concept of a diss track might be relegated to the world of rap and hip-hop, that’s far from the reality. From Taylor Swift to Tupac and Biggie, musicians are no strangers to having something to say and doing it through song.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the kings of controversy, Morrissey, has used his musical career to gripe about frustrations with those around him since the early days. Of course, he’s grown a bit more severe in his recent years, but that provocative spirit has been inside him since the very beginning.

From his comments comparing the UK’s government to a Nazi regime to his simple, yet highly memorable, “Robert Smith is a whingebag” quip, Morrissey has had his fair share of wisecracks outside of his music. Sometimes, it seems that the former Smiths lead singer likes to drum up (vegan) beef with some of the most random characters, from Jamie Oliver to the Queen to…the whole of Coachella.

However, some of the most intense connections can come out of working together, which is exactly what happened to produce one of The Smiths’ most iconic songs, which happened to be inspired by a record label executive that the band previously worked with.

The song in question is none other than ‘Frankly Mr. Shankly’. This number is a bit more complicated than a simple diss track, as it was actually a plea to Geoff Travis, who was in charge of The Smiths’ record label at the time, Rough Trade. He wanted The Smiths to be released from their contract at Rough Trade and wrote the song to vent his frustrations.

Although the lyrics might veer towards the generic in some cases, and could be about countless people in the music industry, there were a few key details that gave the specifics away. Apparently, Travis showed Morrissey some of his poetry before Morrissey penned the song, which contains the lyrics, “Oh, I didn’t realise that you wrote poetry / I didn’t realise that you wrote such bloody awful poetry,” which is a bit difficult to see past.

However, even after the very scalding public remarks, Geoff Travis could see the humour in the situation and didn’t take Morrissey’s temper all that personally. He even commented on the situation, stating: “I saw the lyric as part of Morrissey’s desire to be somewhere else, so it’s not completely silly. It was The Smiths’ prerogative to leave Rough Trade and Morrissey can only write about his own experiences”.

It’s always refreshing to see someone take comments like that on the chin, especially knowing Morrissey’s nature. Regardless of what you think about the drama behind it, the song itself is something of a classic. From the upbeat tone in Morrissey’s unique voice to the snarky lyrics, it’s a highly memorable track.

If you want to take a listen to The Smiths’ song that was based on the tensions at Rough Trade, you can check it out right below.