The Smiths' Johnny Marr reveals the best lyricist he's ever worked with

Publish Date
Sunday, 17 October 2021, 9:49AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Johnny Marr is famous for being The Smiths' guitarist, but during a recent interview with Stereogum he gushed about "the greatest lyricist" he's ever worked with, and it wasn't his former bandmate Morrissey. It was Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock.

“I’ve seen him write an amazing song, and then make it better, and then make it better again,” he said.

Marr was a member of Modest Mouse from 2006-2008 and contributed to the 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and told the story of how the union came to be. “I got a message from management, the record company, that Isaac Brock wanted to give me a call. So Isaac called me up and, being the devil he is, said, ‘Why don’t you come and join my band?’ I was like, ‘Uh, thanks, who is this?’” he recalled.

He went on to explain that he and Brock “had a really long talk and I was none the wiser about the guy. If anything, I thought this was more intriguing and peculiar than I’d first imagined. We arranged to have a 10-day experiment. He said, ‘Why don’t you be involved in producing the album or helping me write it or you join the band.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know you but I like your music, so I’ll come over and I’ll see what’s up.'”

Clearly, that meeting went well. “A brotherhood happens. You go in the trenches with people, and you have these intensive days where it means a lot and there’s a lot at stake," Marr continued. "I stayed in the band, and I loved being in the band. There was a brotherhood that is there to this day. Probably the best time of my life. Some supernaturally good shows. I liked my role. It’s just a thing that happened in my life that I’m eternally grateful for. And Isaac Brock is the greatest lyricist I’ve ever worked with.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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