I was umming and erring whether to include today’s song here since I just released an article about The Smith’s Half a Person. I consider Half a Person the superior track and I am still deliberating whether I rate Hand in Glove highly. Hand in Glove was the debut hit by the English rock band and they were united in their belief that it was a song of real quality and it’s now revered as one of the best Smiths songs. I’d intrigued to know what your opinion is of this song.
“It was to be our first record and it was important to me that there’d be something searingly poetic in it, in a lyrical sense, and yet jubilant at the same time,” Morrissey explained in an interview with Star Hits in 1985. “Being searingly poetic and jubilant was, I always thought, quite difficult because they’re two extreme emotions and I wanted to blend them together.”
Hand in glove
The sun shines out of our behinds
No, it’s not like any other love
This one is different, because it’s us
Hand in glove
We can go wherever we please
And everything depends upon
How near you stand to me
And if the people stare, then the people stare
Oh, I really don’t know and I really don’t care
Hand in Glove written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr was released as the band’s first single in May 1983 on independent record label Rough Trade. The group booked a one-day recording session at Strawberry Studios in Stockport at the cost of £250, which they produced themselves. It peaked at No. 3 on the UK Indie Chart but did not make the top 75 of the UK Singles Chart, settling outside at No. 124.
Guitarrist Johnny Marr recalled the origins of the song in an interview in 2018 tracing it back to an evening late in 1982, when Marr decided to mess around with an old toy guitar at his parents’ house. “I was playing this riff that I thought was a Chic hit… I thought, I really like that, but I had no means to record it.” Their usual composition method was for Marr to add music to Morrissey’s lyrics, though for “Hand in Glove“, Marr had the music first.
Determined not to forget his new riff, the guitarist played it over and over during a journey to Morrissey’s house, though Angie (now Marr’s wife)– an avowed Iggy Pop fan – also threw in a suggestion which inspired Marr to make a crucial refinement to his promising new idea.
“She said, ‘Make it sound like Iggy!” Marr recalled. “So I just took that Nile Rodgers thing and just played Iggy Pop chords“. She said, ‘Yeah that’s cool!’ And I was like, ‘Oh really!’” Fortunately for Marr, Morrissey was at home and able to produce his tape recorder. Indeed, the singer was so impressed by Marr’s melody that he reputedly wrote the song’s entire lyric in just two hours. By the time the band got hold of it and further honed the arrangement, The Smiths’ four members were convinced Hand In Glove was their strongest song to date.