5 Great Covers of Songs by The Smiths and Morrissey—From David Bowie to The Pretenders and More

Happy Birthday to Morrissey! The talented and cantankerous solo artist and former Smiths frontman, turned 65 on May 22, 2024. Born Steven Morrissey near Manchester, U.K., the singer/songwriter was, along with guitarist Johnny Marr, the driving force behind the hugely popular group The Smiths from 1982 to 1987.

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Artistic tensions between Morrissey and Marr led to the band’s breakup, after which Morrissey launched a successful solo career. Morrissey’s work has long been embraced by other artists, many of whom recorded their own versions of songs he co-wrote.

[RELATED: Morrissey Purchases the Rights Back for Two Albums After “Bloody War” With Capitol Records]

In honor of Morrissey’s birthday, here are five excellent covers of his songs:

“Hand in Glove” – Sandie Shaw (1984)

Morrissey and Marr were big fans of Sandie Shaw. The U.K. pop singer had a run of major hits in her home country during the mid-to-late 1960s. They included the chart-topping singles “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” and “Puppet on a String.”

After The Smiths’ first single, “Hand in Glove,” was released in 1983, Morrissey and Marr sent a letter to Shaw expressing their desire to work with her. She wound up recording versions of “Hand in Glove” and another Smiths song with the group’s members serving as her backing band.

Shaw’s cover of “Hand in Glove” wound up being a U.K. hit, reaching No. 27 on the chart in 1984.

“I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” – David Bowie (1993)

“I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” is a song from Morrissey’s third solo album, Your Arsenal. The 1992 album reached No. 4 on the U.K. chart, while peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard 200.

Your Arsenal was produced by Mick Ronson, who was lead guitarist of David Bowie’s early-’70s band The Spiders from Mars. After Ronson sent Bowie a recording of the album, the glam-rock legend noticed a resemblance between “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” and his own 1972 tune “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” This inspired Bowie to cover Morrissey’s tune; he included his version on his 1993 album, Black Tie White Noise.

On a CD-ROM released with Black Tie White Noise, Bowie explained, “I couldn’t but notice that … ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’ was a kind of a parody of … ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.’ And so I sort of thought it would be fun to take that song and do it the way I would’ve done it 1974-ish.”

Bowie also called Morrissey “very singular, a very talented writer.”

“Everyday Is Like Sunday” – The Pretenders (1995)

“Everyday Is Like Sunday” was a Top-10 U.K. hit for Morrissey that appeared on his 1988 solo debut, Viva Hate. The Pretenders recorded their own serenely melodic version of the tune for the soundtrack of the 1995 comedy-drama Boys on the Side. The film starred Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Mary-Louise Parker.

The Pretenders later also released the tune on their 2006 box-set compilation Pirate Radio.

“I Know It’s Over” – Jeff Buckley (1995)

“I Know It’s Over” is a melancholy tune featured on The Smith’s 1986 album The Queen Is Dead.

The late Jeff Buckley frequently played the song in concert. A delicate live performance of the tune recorded in April 1995 at Sony Studios in New York City was included on an expanded edition of the posthumous 2007 compilation So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley.

A stripped-down studio version of “I Know It’s Over” recorded in 1993 appeared on the 2016 compilation You and I. Buckley accidentally drowned in 1997 in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 30.

“There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” – Neil Finn & Friends (2001)

“There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” arguably is one of The Smiths most beloved songs. The track originally was featured on The Queen Is Dead, but wasn’t released as a single until 1992, when it appeared on the Best II compilation. It then reached No. 25 on the U.K. chart.

Crowded House frontman and former Split Enz member Neil Finn covered the song as part of his star-studded 7 Worlds Collide collaborative project.

Released in 2001, 7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James is a concert album featuring highlights from a series of shows Finn and various other artists played in Auckland, New Zealand. For his version “There Is a Light,” Finn was accompanied by Marr, who co-wrote the song with Morrissey, as well as Radiohead guitarist Phil Selway and drummer Ed O’Brien, Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and longtime John Mellencamp violinist Lisa Germano.

The performance was simply blissful.

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