I am the son and the heir
of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.
I am human and I need to be loved
just like everybody else does.
When you say it's gonna happen "now,"
well, when exactly do you mean?
See I've already waited too long
and all my hope is gone.
You know this song. You do. It starts with Johnny Marr's guitar, cycling through a tremolo that is both cool and aggressive. The beat is contagious, driving. It is the intro of a gang strutting down a street, of a sleek automobile zooming along a highway. The sound of sexy.
More than that, "How Soon is Now?" is the anthem of a generation. The combination of Morrissey's smug attitude and forceful vocals, coupled with Marr's unique style, creates a sound that is utterly unique, yet embodies the 1980s blend of decadence and depression. With How Soon, The Smiths became the first in a long line of guitar-driven, synth-heavy, indie Brit bands that dominated dance clubs of the day.
Originally pressed on the Hatful of Hollow release and again on Meat is Murder, "How Soon is Now?" is a poppier track than any of the others on either album. In fact, die-hard Smiths fans sometimes begrudgingly acknowledge the popularity of the song. The easiest comparison is Radiohead's "Creep," a rock ballad of epic proportions that has sort of washed out the Radiohead name for less-familiar fans. While fantastically written and timelessly catchy, How Soon falls somewhat off-kilter from more traditional Smiths songs.
Regardless of its implications for Morrissey, Johnny, and company, "How Soon is Now?" sparked a generation of coolly melancholic teenagers to internalize a fusion of dance and rock. It is so compelling, in fact, as to merit endless reproductions, samplings, and covers by a long line of musicians, including Everclear and The Meatmen. The most notable cover was done by Love Spit Love, featured on the witchy motion picture, The Craft, and later as the theme for the television show, Charmed.
Some fact checking by allmusic.com.