“Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” – The Smiths (Words/music: Johnny Marr and Morrissey, available on Hatful of Hollow, Sire 1984)
Three mildly connected thoughts about The Smiths and this song:
By the time I started buying albums, the “single” served one of two purposes. The first, more traditional version, the one where a band recorded a couple songs and put them out on a 7” (or CD, or cassette, or now on iTunes) as a completed project. Generally, these were the punk bands that weren’t on my radar in the mid-1990s. Then, there was the idea of a “single” as the track being promoted off the album – the one that got the video and maybe a CD single with a remix or one rarity. I started digging into music during the era of the overstuffed album, so save for a shoebox of CD singles that I acquired for curious reasons, I didn’t buy singles until I started buying vinyl. Thus, the notion of a band like the Smiths as a “singles band,” one who had a singles collection out the same year as their debut album, was one I had a hard time wrapping my head around at first.
As lovely as it is, the definitive version of this song for me is the Dream Academy’s instrumental version during the Art Institute scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Even without words, it underscores the melancholy beneath the scene’s playfulness, whether it’s the look of silent despair that Cameron shares with the blank-faced girl in Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte or the fleeting moment Ferris and Sloane share underneath Marc Chagall’s America Windows. I also appreciated that an oboe (I think) replaces Morrissey’s voice, even if I might have picked a lower woodwind like a bassoon to replicate his voice.
My favorite bit of the song comes right at the end. Johnny Marr plays a mandolin with unexpected speed. The quick strumming alone feels jarring, but the tone of the instrument blends well and gives the song an appropriately sweet coda. Before it reaches the two minute mark, the whole thing gently fades away.