On December 20, The Smiths hit a major milestone on Spotify: for the first time, one of their songs crossed over the 500-million-plays mark. As the subject line of this piece unabashedly gives away, the song in question was "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," a track which wasn't even released as a single when it first found its way onto the band's 1986 album, The Queen is Dead.
Written - like all Smiths originals - by Johnny Marr and Morrissey, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" sits as the next-to-last song on The Queen Is Dead, and it remained an album track until 1992, when it finally became a single in conjunction with the release of the Smiths' second greatest-hits compilation, the cleverly-titled Best II.
In his memoir, Set the Boy Free, Johnny Marr details the recording of the song:
"I decided to record it using the Martin acoustic I'd written it on, so as to capture the breeze quality, and I ran through the chords with Andy [Rourke] and Mike [Joyce], who were hearing it for the first time, while [producer] Stephen Street made some adjustments to the sound. The music came together quickly, which is usually the sign of a good song. It was always an important moment for me when we were putting down something new, but with 'There Is a Light' it was obvious that we might have some magic, and it felt like the music was playing itself. All my expectations were surpassed though when Morrissey got behind the microphone and we played the song as a band for the first time. Every line was perfect as the words and the music carried us along on our own new anthem. We were high with it, and after just a few takes we had one of our best ever songs, and something that felt at the time like pop music and beyond."
Since the dissolution of the Smiths, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" has regularly featured in the solo sets of both Morrissey and Marr, and it has been covered by a plethora of other artists, including - but in no way limited to - the Ocean Blue, Neil Finn, Noel Gallagher, the Dum Dum Girls, the Lucksmiths, Angie Hart, Braid, Pete Yorn, Anberlin, and the Divine Comedy. It's been a staple of a number of film soundtracks as well, serving a key role in the 2009 rom-com 500 Days of Summer, and playing over the end credits of David Fincher's recent The Killer.
In case you're wondering about the remainder of the top 5 most spun Smiths songs on Spotify, we can provide that list for you:
1. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - 501 million
2. This Charming Man - 424 million
3. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - 282 million
4. How Soon Is Now? - 241 million
5. Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - 212 million