David Cameron defies Smiths ex-guitarist, Johnny Marr

The rocker refuses to allow the British prime minister to declare his devotion to the Smiths

Published February 20, 2013 2:09PM (EST)


The British prime minister is on a tear: First, he has gone after Hilary Mantel for her comments about Kate Middleton. Now, David Cameron has made a vow to defy Smiths ex-guitarist Johnny Marr, who has "banned" the Tory from listening to music by the Smiths, reports BBC News.

In a story that recalls Paul Ryan's uninvited and unrequited declaration of love for Rage Against the Machine (and, for that matter, Chris Christie's obsession with Bruce Springsteen), the prime minister is a longtime fan of the new wave band — who split in the 1980s, and are perhaps best known for their songs "How Soon Is Now" and "Heaven Knows (I'm Miserable Now) — and has said so on many occasions. Marr has voiced his disgust, telling the BBC that this is "not allowed." But Cameron, who was on a visit to India, declared he'd "go on and listen,"anyway. In 2006, Cameron chose the Smiths song "This Charming Man" on Desert Island Discs.

This isn't Marr's first ban imposed on the prime minister — he repeated the warning in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program — but this time he was specifically ruling that "This Charming Man" is off-limits. "I think he likes the song," Marr told the BBC. "That's probably sadder than if he didn't know it, really. He's entitled to like whatever he likes, as long as he doesn't say it. It's a good song," adding, "I do forbid him to like it. He shouldn't like us because we're not his kind of people. "

Marr isn't alone in publicly decrying Cameron's fandom. In 2010, Morrissey has also called on him to please stop proclaiming his admiration: "David Cameron hunts and shoots and kills stags — apparently for pleasure. It was not for such people that either 'Meat Is Murder' or 'The Queen Is Dead' were recorded; in fact, they were made as a reaction against such violence." But Cameron, who was a teenager in the 1980s and grew up listening to them, can't resist expressing his devotion, once even making a fleeting mention of the 1984 song "William, It Was Really Nothing" during Prime Minister's Questions.

During a diplomatic and trade-building mission in Delhi, Cameron remained defiant, telling the BBC, "I've now got Johnny Marr and other members of the band saying I'm not able to listen to the Smiths. When I've got the complete and full set, even then, I'm afraid, I will go on and listen to the Smiths."

The Smiths' "This Charming Man"

By Kera Bolonik

Kera Bolonik, a writer, critic, and editor, is the executive editor of DAME Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Elle, Glamour, New York magazine, Salon, Slate, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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