So Young



In the misery dictionary
Page after page after page
In the misery dictionary
Page after page

Where there's life there's gotta be hope
And where there's a will there's a way
One man's in is another's out
I gotta get up today

Where there's life there's gotta be hope
And where there's a will there's a way
Admit defeat yet you're so young
You know I gotta get up today

In the misery dictionary
Page after page after page
In the misery dictionary
Page after page

And where there's a will there's a way
You gotta get out of your mess today
Today


Lyrics by:
Brown

Music by:
Squire / Brown

Written:
1984

Personnel:
John Squire (lead guitar)
Ian Brown (vocals)
Andy Couzens (rhythm guitar)
Pete Garner (bass)
Alan Wren (drums)

Produced by:
Martin Hannett

Format:
Released July 1985:
So Young / Tell Me (Thin Line, THIN001, 12" promo, pink label test pressing)
So Young / Tell Me (Cartel / Thin Line, THIN001, 12" promo in Cartel sleeve)

Released September 1985:
So Young / Tell Me (Thin Line, THIN001, 1,200 pressed, 12")

Released June 1992:
So Young / Tell Me (Silvertone, ORE CD 37, CD from Singles Collection boxset)
So Young / Tell Me (Alfa-Silvertone, ALCB-544, CD from Japanese Singles Collection boxset)

UK chart details:
N / A

Also available on:
The Complete Stone Roses (3.30)
Garage Flower (3.18)

First live performance:
In 1985.

Artwork details:
The 12" So Young artwork is from 'Wreckage By Johnny' (1985)

Pseudonyms:
'Misery Dictionary'

Details:

 

Top row: Hulme Crescents. On the left is a Kevin Cummins shot of William Kent Crescent, June 1981. With a design based on the Georgian crescents of Bath, they were built to rehouse people after the urban clearance of Hulme's terraced streets. This, however, did not go to plan, and many families, dissatisfied with the surroundings, soon moved out. The council contemplated pulling it down but instead opted to use it as student overspill. Suddenly the crescents were being populated by students, musicians and left-field individuals, attracted by the low rent. Some of the flats were knocked through, illegally, and turned into clubs, photography and recording studios. Out of the hardship emerged a hive of creativity and the Factory club was right on the edge of it.
Second row: Hulme, Manchester in 1984. "When I started the Roses, I was on the dole, 21, living in Hulme, just trying to avoid work. My only goal was that I didn't want to get up at eight o'clock doing something for someone else." (Ian Brown speaking to City Life, 2007). Ian Brown used to sign on at the box next to Mick Hucknall in 1984 and 1985, a dole office which he would make a show of striding triumphantly past in his Stellify video shoot, some twenty-five years later. Originally farmland, this pictured district close to Manchester was filled with back-to-back housing for the growing population of industrial workers. This was finally demolished in a slum clearance programme in the 1960s, yet had to be cleared again in the 1990s, as the replacement housing itself fell into rapid disrepair. This photograph of the completed '60s experiment in planning new communities, already hints that failure is imminent – in the banality of the buildings and the inhuman scale of their relationship to each other – as it proved to be.
Bottom row: The photographic locations and aesthetic favoured by The Stone Roses in their early incarnation had elements of, in particular, The Clash and Joy Division. The Stone Roses were shot on train tracks (click here, here and here), like The Clash were, for their 1982 LP, Combat Rock, or in wintry monochrome architectural shots, in an effort to capture the spirit of Joy Division's iconic Hulme bridge shot by Kevin Cummins. It would be Cummins who would provide the band with arguably their most iconic shot, in November 1989.

The title sums this effort up really. In 1985, The Stone Roses released this, their debut single, produced by Martin Hannett, a doom-laden affair later disowned by the band. Morrissey and Marr spent much of the eighties exploring the lonely outer reaches of miserabilism and the dour a cappella opening here has all the miserabilist tones of The Smiths' frontman; the song went by the title 'Misery Dictionary', but was later changed, to avoid categorization with The Smiths ('Nowhere Fast' became Just A Little Bit for this same reason). Morrissey and Brown have competing outlooks regarding each band's ascent. Compare the contendings of each below, where both figures attempt to argue the case for an unaided rise of one's own band, while stressing the assistance granted to the other:

Of the two figures, Ian Brown's argument carries the greater weight. In their early years, The Stone Roses were complete outsiders (John Robb affirms the viewpoint of Middles in this description, in Part 4 of my Stone Roses documentary, which features on YouTube); indeed, much of the eulogizing of The Stone Roses' debut LP on the part of the press was retrospective - see for example Jack Barron's memorable 7 out of 10 review for the NME in April 1989 (where it wasn’t even the lead review on the page). It's highest chart placing was a whopping 19. By December, its importance had become evident, but it still did not top the end-of-year critics' polls. NME ranked it second to De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, while Melody Maker rated it behind The Cure's Disintegration, The Pixies' Doolittle and Kate Bush's The Sensual World. The Stone Roses made it in spite of the best efforts of Manchester music mogul, Tony Wilson, whose Factory network was a luxury instead afforded to the media-driven Happy Mondays. Despite the Happy Mondays coming last in a Battle of the Bands competition held at his Haçienda club, Wilson disregarded the results of the voting and signed the band to his Factory Records label. Manchester still needed to wake up to The Stone Roses, and the city did just that, one morning in 1985. In frustration at being blanked by the city's media honchos following the release of their debut single, The Stone Roses turned to vandalism and graffitied the band's name on Manchester's monuments. They had, at last, gained column inches, but at the expense of being boycotted from the pages of the local press for the next two years. This served only to make the band more bolshy, and intensify their 'last gang in town' mentality and intransigence towards the mainstream. Dave Haslam affirms Ian Brown's position, in conversation with Uncut magazine in January 2009: "I was freelancing in the NME in 1987 and I reviewed the Roses playing at the International that year and I fought for weeks to get that review placed. At this point the band were getting 700 people to their gigs in Manchester, and some tiny live review in the NME, grudgingly given." Helen Mead, section editor at the NME, recalls having to commission herself to write a 2-page Blackpool live review with interview, within the live section, as the paper would not commission a feature. Morrissey would later take a more realistic view of events: "(The Smiths) rocketed instantly... It was very automatic, the press supported us instantly. There were massive reviews everywhere..." (Desert Island Discs, 2009).

 

Top: Speaking to Granada Television in 1989, Ian was keen to remind viewers that the band's rise had been a slow, gradual process. "Some of the songs that London are now saying are good records are like, four or five years old to us." Squire concurs with this viewpoint, in conversation with Dave Haslam of Xfm Manchester, on 13th June 2007: "Songs like Waterfall were on demo tapes on London record company desks a couple of years before we got anywhere and that puzzles me."
Bottom row: Not only was Wilson opening doors and pulling some strings for the Happy Mondays, he was also, according to Stone Roses guitarist Andy Couzens, slamming the door firmly shut at every opportunity on their Mancunian neighbours.

 

 

"Rain clouds, oh they used to chase me..."
Top left: The grey austerity of The Smiths was not an image that the Roses wanted to themselves promote. However, the band's New Romantics meets J.R.R. Tolkien fashion sense (projected here in a Marie Louise Gardens photoshoot with Kevin Cummins) and general demeanour in press shots between 1984 and 1986 did little to help break away from such a categorization. The Stone Roses' appearance on Radio 1's Evening Session (March 1995) contains a wonderful parody of Morrissey by Reni (always the most entertaining Rose on the airwaves). Whilst This Charming Man is in mid-play, The Stone Roses' drummer adds his own comical lyrical touches, something along the lines of: "Couldn't go out, we couldn't find a cab. I was my dad, I was my own mother..."
Top right: The Stone Roses at Ian Tilton's Manchester studio, 20th July 1989. Like a bleak industrial landscape awakening from a monochrome slumber and exploding into glorious CinemaScope Technicolor the advent of the Second Summer of Love swept away any residue of a brooding Manchester horizon. The band's lean, Mod-ish look of 1987 became looser and baggier, and they spearheaded the brief return - just after The Smiths' miserabilism and before grunge's gloom - of a 60's drenched golden age. The Second Summer of Love is the term given to the period in 1988-89 in Britain, during the rise of Acid House music and the euphoric explosion of unlicensed ecstasy-fuelled rave parties. The term generally refers to the summers of both 1988 and 1989 (and a strong case could be made for there having been a trilogy, with a 'third Summer of Love' in 1990), when electronic dance music and the prevalence of the drug ecstasy fuelled an explosion in youth culture, culminating in mass free parties and the era of the rave. The music of this era fused dance beats with a psychedelic, 1960s flavour, and the dance culture drew parallels with the hedonism and freedom of the Summer of Love in San Francisco two decades earlier. May 1989 was the hottest, sunniest and driest May in England for 300 years (so hot was the summer of that year that The Stone Roses often brought ice pops to gigs and, upon taking to the stage, threw them to fans to cool them down).
Bottom row: Speaking to Uncut magazine in June 2006, Ian Brown described the Roses' impact in 1989 as a move into Technicolor. "The Roses are blooming in Technicolor", proclaimed a Rolling Stone magazine article of the time. Boasting irresistible rhythms suffused with a spirit so carefree and adventurous, The Stone Roses took a different tack to that of their Mancunian predecessors, with a vibrant revelatory brew of Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Byrds. The impact of The Stone Roses in 1989, set against a backdrop of the Manchester music scene in the '80s, was like the mid-story conversion from sepia-toned black and white to dazzling Technicolor, in 'The Wizard of Oz.' Upon regaining consciousness after the effects of a twister, Dorothy opens the door and steps into full three-strip Technicolor, in a village and parkland of unearthly beauty. In March 1990, it was 'The Emerald City Or Bust' for the band. Speaking about hearing Sally Cinnamon for the first time, Noel Gallagher echoes Ian's 1985 Muze comments: "It was just... clicks fingers... 'bang'. Everything went into colour. From being grey, dowdy fucking Manchester students carrying books of Oscar Wilde poetry under their arm walking around in the pissing rain, moaning about how shit life was, y'know." (Source: Blood On The Turntables Stone Roses documentary) Leading figures of the subsequent Britpop movement had differing viewpoints as to what direction this 'film' should take. Speaking in a BBC 90's Pop music documentary, Brett Anderson alludes to the overtly laddish feature of the movement, epitomised by Blur's 'Country House' video: "The initial vision for Britpop that Suede had was akin to a Mike Leigh film, and I think it was hijacked by various crap bands, who turned it into a Carry On film."
Ian's frustration with people seemingly doing nothing with their lives would remain as strong years later, with The Stone Roses' positivity strongly distinguishing them from the insular, bedsit mentality of their Manchester contemporaries:

 

Left: Margaret Thatcher - under whose governance a dole culture developed - waving to supporters from the windows of Conservative Party headquarters after her re-election (10th June 1983).
Right: Spending warm summer days indoors... Where The Stone Roses sought to uplift their audience and rouse the masses, The Smiths were content to create theatrical extroversion out of bedroom-bound melancholic introversion. Morrissey was brought up in Hulme and would lead The Smiths (1982 - 1987) during some of the most powerful years of Thatcher's reign. Whilst The Smiths and The Stone Roses harbored a kindred dislike of the restriction of personal liberty during Thatcher's stifling premiership, Morrissey's cultural response was an almost wilful submission to the bedsit lifestyle of the dole culture, as some sort of coping mechanism. A cultural revolution took place in the late 80's and, inspired by the changing times, The Stone Roses took a very different path to that of their Manchester predecessors. With a clear manifesto of overwhelming positivity, songs of insurrection, and calls for a palace revolution, The Stone Roses were swathed in an incendiary aura and carried a revolutionary zeal. To quote Jon Savage, the impact of The Stone Roses was "...of travel rather than restriction, of sun rather than rain, of togetherness rather than atomized individualism - topped with a healthy dose of class revenge." (Jon Savage, Time Travel London: Vintage, 1997, p. 266). The band's 1989 debut couched caustic, class-driven lyrics in sweet melody, and a middle-class arts programme that year provided the opportune moment to exact the class revenge described by Savage. The issue of class was certainly in Ian Brown's mind, as he explained to the NME in May 2010. Reflecting on some of the lukewarm contemporary reviews of Spike Island, the singer surmises, "Northerners were seen as barbarians in those days, weren't they ? Nowadays people think you're somehow more 'authentic' if you've got an accent, but back then we were just Northern barbarians who'd left school at 16 and now had thousands of kids following us and dressing like us. And I think a lot of the university-educated media were jealous of us." In a Q magazine discussion with Johnny Marr in 2007, Ian commented on his native city's claim to be the UK capital of music: "Manchester's still the capital city. What Manchester does today, London'll do tomorrow." Formally announcing their reunion at London's Soho Hotel, the band were shrewd enough to use the capital's media outlet to get the promotional ball rolling. The group's reunion tour of 2012 notably did not feature a single scheduled London date. That was until Adidas pulled into town, prompting a move which would compromise the band's aversion to playing the traditional London-centric music biz game. The anti-establishment, pro-proletarian attitude of The Stone Roses in 1989 recalled the revolutionary spirit of May 1968, with the added ingredient of malicious anti-royal intent. Brown fanned the flames by expressing his desire to see dead, by his own hands if necessary, the Queen, her mother and Prince Charles. This fervour for violent overthrow brought to mind the Reign of Terror in the more violent stages of the French Revolution some two centuries earlier: "I always thought the aristocracy should be shot. I was brought up that way. And I had a lot of respect for Tony Benn because he'd been born into aristocracy and had been strong enough to leave it all behind. Then when I saw him speak I thought he was really good, he'd completely jumped the gun with his thoughts." (Ian Brown speaking to the NME in August 1989). In regard to this Ian Brown quote, the final sentence does not quite make sense. Is Ian meaning to say that Benn was 'ahead of his time' with his thoughts ? To jump the gun means to begin something before preparations for it are complete; therefore, to say that a man "jumped the gun with his thoughts" would be doing him a disservice, as it would mean that his thoughts are not considered to be fully formed. Contemplating England's future in conversation with Melody Maker in June 1989, Brown commented, "I still think there could be a revolution in England, it'll just take time, because it's only 45 years that working-class people have been able to get an education. And that's where it starts."

The influence of Kirk Brandon of Theatre of Hate, a gothic, post-punk rock band formed in 1980, is evident on this, and other Garage Flower era Roses tracks. Visually, Brown very much styled himself on Brandon in this period.

 

Top left: The Stone Roses as a five-piece. Just prior to the release of So Young, both Andy Couzens and Reni were dissatisfied with Brown and Squire moving towards a Jagger/Richards or Lennon/McCartney songwriting setup. With this having been presented as a fait accompli to the band, Couzens and Reni duly walked out but were persuaded to return on the promise that this was purely for image, and that all royalties would be split equally. Couzens financed the recording of the So Young single, to the cost of £1,200, but his place in the band would soon become undermined by manager Gareth Evans, who was quick to identify where the power base in the band lay. Relations between the pair were strained by Couzens's identification of serious flaws in the contract drawn up by Evans. After Couzens flew back separately from a gig at Dublin McOnagles in May 1986, Evans allegedly seized the opportunity to turn band members against him. It proved to be Couzens' final gig with the band, but he has since enjoyed relative success with The High, who ran from 1989 to 1992.
Top right: Kirk Brandon.
Bottom: Mr Brown is a clown who rides through town in a coffin...

This is John Squire talking about 'Wreckage By Johnny', the front cover image of the 12" So Young / Tell Me Manchester-only release, of which 1,200 copies were pressed:

 

 

Top centre: 'Das Undbild' (1919) by Kurt Schwitters (1887 - 1948). Schwitters was a German artist who worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography and what came to be known as installation art. He is best known for his collages, called Merz Pictures.
Middle left: So Young / Tell Me 12" inch front cover. Squire created a sculpture consisting of two beer bottles and a radio, smashed up, reassembled and painted. However, the work was given to an ex-factory designer who, to Squire's dissatisfaction, did not recreate the work faithfully. This experience raised worry in Squire that a designer from the record label would knock up a sleeve in an afternoon and that would forever be a visual association with the band (this fear would become realized in FM Revolver's Sally Cinnamon video). He was thus motivated to put his own recognisable stamp on the band's record covers, and his piqued interest in Jackson Pollock provided such an opportunity.
Middle right: So Young / Tell Me 12" inch back cover.
Bottom left: So Young / Tell Me 7 inch front cover.
Bottom right: So Young / Tell Me 7 inch back cover.


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