Half A Person

"I remember Johnny and Craig were both playing acoustic guitars, which we set up separated with one in the left and one in the right speaker. That was put down together, very simply, with just a few overdubs on top."


- Stephen Street


"Me and Morrissey would just disappear. Some of my favourite songs came about that way, like "Half A Person". We just locked ourselves away and did it. In the time it takes to play it, I wrote it. Morrissey was great in that respect. He knew when I was going to play something good."

"We officially wrote it on the stairs at Mayfair. Morrissey got his part of it together overnight, and it was amazing. That was probably the best writing moment I think me and him ever had because we were so close, practically touching, and I could see him kind of willing me on, waiting to see what I was going to play. Then I could see him thinking, 'That's exactly where I was hoping you'd go!' It was a fantastic, shared moment."

"One [1963 Stratocaster] I keep constantly high strung in Nashville tuning, which is the top two strings the same and bottom four like a 12-string set with the low strings taken off. It's a good tuning for coming up with new stuff 'cos you kind of feel like you're playing backwards. I used that on loads of Smiths stuff - You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby, Half A Person..."

"This is a 1962 Epiphone Coronet. Shortly after I got it I put it in 'Nashville Tuning', which means putting on an electric 12 string set (the bottom four strings are an octave higher than standard). It feels like your playing backwards because the higher strings are at the bottom. I used it to double a lot of the Rickenbacker arpeggios on Smiths records, most notably on 'William It Was Really Nothing', it's also the main guitar on 'Half A Person'."

"It might have a capo on the second fret.The chords are around G to E on the intro."

- Johnny Marr



Recorded:
October 1986, Mayfair Studios, London

Known Guitars used:
1962 Epiphone Coronet in nashville tuning
1963 Fender Stratocaster in nashville tuning


I have uploaded a Guitar Pro tab here.

Here is the complete score from the "Louder Than Bombs:Off The Record" book:















Here are the scans from the Complete Chord Dictionary:




Daniel Earwicker does a nice cover on his Rick 330:



And he tackles the fade-out riff in a separate video:




marrzipan does a great version on acoustic, sans capo:




Pandaprops does an amazingly accurate version in nashville tuning, fade out riff included:




Here's davidguitarist91:

5 comments:

Giacomo said...

I am fairly sure the guitar in Nashville tuning Marr plays on 'Half a Person' has no capo, the intro and verse revolving around the standard positions of Gmaj7 and E/Esus4, and so forth. Papandros should be playing it without the capo – and marzipan on a Nashville-tuned guitar. For once the Louder than Bombs book happens to be right.

Giacomo said...

I am fairly sure the guitar in Nashville tuning Marr plays on Half a Person has no capo, the intro and verse revolving around the standard positions of Gmaj7 and E/Esus4, and so forth. Pandaprops should be playing it without the capo – and marzipan using a Nashville-tuned guitar. For once the Louder than Bombs book happens to be right.

Anonymous said...

Great covers. I especially like the Nashville tuning on the hollow body. Thanks for the inspiration.

Dhowellbassist said...

Sorry... it's definitely capo on 2/ nashville. People need to learn how to pick out what sounds like an open string and what sounds like a closed string. Once you actually live with a high strung guitar for any amount of time you can pick these things out. It just works, sounds and feels right...

Mark Foster said...

That was a great quote from Johnny Marr. What a magical moment that must have been. To collaborate on that level, with that closeness, so united in creativity, wow. The lyrics are great, of course, but I always wonder if Johnny was always able to keep a straight face, and how Morrissey would react if that happened. Me? I don't know...if someone started singing 'call me morbid call me pale', I might lose it. No matter how much I love the lyrics, the Oscar Wildeness of it all, the earnestness, the Morrissey Manchesterness? makes me smile. And laugh, in a nice way.