This Charming Man

"Of all our singles I think I like 'This Charming Man' best, just because the rhythms are so infectious. Smiths music really moves me."

- Andy Rourke

"A couple of days before I wrote 'This Charming Man' I'd heard 'Walk Out To Winter' (by Aztec Camera) on Radio 1, and I felt a little jealous. My competitive urges kicked in. I felt that we needed something up-beat and in a major key for Rough Trade to get behind. That's why I wrote it in the key of G, which to this day I rarely do. I knew that 'This Charming Man' would be our next single. I did the whole thing in one go into this TEAC 3-track tape recorder that I used to write on. I came up with the basic chords and immediately overdubbed the top line and intro riff."

"I wrote This Charming Man for a John Peel session. I just leapt out of bed and wrote it. It was the culmination of trying to find a way of playing that was non-rock but still expressed my personality. I felt we needed something more upbeat in a different key and was miffed that Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame was getting on the radio and we weren't. That's why it's got that sunny disposition; my usual default setting was Manchester in the rain. When we were recording it, Rough Trade's Geoff Travis came in and said: 'That's got to be the single.'"

"I remember writing it, it was in preparation for a John Peel single. I wrote it the same night as 'Pretty Girls Make Graves' and 'Still Ill'."

"'This Charming Man' was the first record where I used those highlife-sounding runs in 3rds. I'm tuned up to F# and I finger it in G, so it comes out in A. There are about 15 tracks of guitar. People thought the main guitar part was a Rickenbacker, but it's really a '54 Tele. There are three tracks of acoustic, a backwards guitar with a really long reverb, and the effect of dropping knives on the guitar -- that comes in at the end of the chorus."

"I don't want to be playing 'This Charming Man' when I'm... 22."

- Johnny Marr

Here is a great video of Johnny looping the rhythm part and overdubbing the lead:

Notice he starts the riff on the second and third strings, around the twelfth fret(14th if you have his usual 2nd fret capo on).

I have uploaded several Guitar Pro tab files here. Each file has several different guitar tracks, some with bass tracks as well. I have uploaded a multitrack for the song here. This has the isolated guitar and bass parts, and it's a great tool for learning the song.

Here are the scans from the Singles tab book:

I have uploaded another tab and it's accompanying backing tracks. Those are here(right click to save as). Here's the tab:

UPDATE 10/12/08: I have also uploaded these scans from the debut album song book, for completists only.

lunachangue gives us a pretty spot on version:

The cover sonofdrcross does is equally good:

He also does a great version on bass:

325C58 tackles the hatful version, with bass and rythym guitar as well:

Daniel Earwicker plays just a few bars on his 12 string Ric:

martinyyz has another good version. Really clear recording of the fretboard, too:

Here's nicknoh69 on his les paul:

Here's WilliamFs11 on acoustic:

Here's isisluna23 on a Les Paul:

Here's chiasson65 with another great bass cover:

abyface does an awesome job:

adameater does the Hatful version on acoustic:

Another take by martinyyz:

Here's a cool version by johnnymare:

Here's Pandaprops on guitar:

and bass:

Here's davidguitarist91 on his Les Paul:

Here's a great multitrack version by captaincarwash:


Unknown said...

great site, thanks so much for your efforts - it's Sunday & I'm going to spend the whole day here.

Pier said...

I don't play the guitar but I'm a huge Smiths fan, your site is amazing, a work of love and talent. Keep it up.

wardo said...

I just discovered this site -- what a fantastic resource. I only hope a certain vocalist doesn't put the kibosh on it! I will be checking back regularly.

mike said...

very helpful site, thanks very much

gregg said...

thanks very much for the work you put into this site. been coming back for about 2 years. truly excellent.

Thom said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Gregg. I appreciate it!

Sarah said...

great site, thank you very much! Very useful.

Anonymous said...

wwooooooo!!! soy de mexico!, es increible que me haya topado con esta pagina!, una abrazo para ti que hiziste este blog posible,ahora podre tocar las canciones de the smiths que siempre me han gustado!, mil gracias amigo, suerte y mucha luz!

Marcus said...

Could you please demonstrate the tuning for the singles version?

Anonymous said...

What are the chords Johnny Marr plays when he loops the rhythm then plays the riffs over it?! Thanks!

cuchoramone said...

Hi all. My first post. A really wonderfull site.

Anonymous, I think the chords are:

G, D, Am, C, D.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chords!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello. I love this site!

Just a quick question regarding the multis which I downloaded from Morrissey Solo:
I find when I jam along to it that I have to adjust the tuning on my guitar (tune it down slightly when I put the capo at the second fret).

I'm sure other people have noticed this too so I'm wondering if there was an element of pitch changing going on in the production? I've noticed that this is the same for other songs on the first album.

Any views or opinions? Note that the other multis I have - from the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Doors for example - the tuning is spot on. My guitar is perfectly tuned to them from my guitar tuner etc...

Scott W

Steve said...

Scott where did you get the multitracks of Led Zep and the doors? i would love to hear them!!

Ibis ItiberĂȘ said...


The link for the multitrack file is broken.
Please, fix it.
Best regards


Thom said...

Fixed it, thanks for letting me know.

james said...

can someone explain to me what he means when he says '' I'm tuned up to F# and I finger it in G, so it comes out in A. '' it baffles me, i learnt to play this charming man from a tab off ultimate guitar and it turns out its wrong, i wanna make sure ive learnt the legitimate version

Thom said...

James, watch how Johnny himself plays it. The riff should start on the G and B strings. If it's being played starting on the B and E, then you know you're playing it wrong as Johnny never played it like that.

Anonymous said...

Easiest way to learn this tune is to watch this guy - he does a fabulous job of playing it (accurately):

a progressive crank said...

I can't be the only person to notice that the melodic line over the chords is just the same chords in different voicings? frinstance, the initial phrase on the B and E strings is just those strings from a D chord, A bar chord, and E bar chord, played in the 9, 7, and 10 positions, if you use G, D, Am, C, D as in another comment. The video of the Man Himself hints at it but the video by martinyyz above makes it quite clear.

It's easier for me to think in terms of the shapes and muting strings than approach these as single note lines to be woven together. It doesn't take anything away from how shimmeringly cool the tune is, just makes it easier for some of us to get our minds around.

Unknown said...

This video of the isolated lead line might come in helpful to those trying to play along.

Unknown said...

Hi the backing track is down?

Thanks, M

Thom said...

Hi Meng, link is fixed. Thanks!

Active Mind said...

Was the John Peel session just recorded by the 4 of them or was there another guitar?