The first song ever recorded by the Smiths has been uploaded to the internet by Dale Hibbert, the band’s original bassist. The song, “I want a boy for my birthday,” was originally recorded by the Cookies and released in 1963 as a b-side to their single “Will power.”
Until this week, only short, re-recorded clips of the three-minute demo had been available online. Hibbert, who was sent a copy of the tape by Morrissey and Johnny Marr so that he could add bass lines to it, uploaded the full song to his YouTube channel Monday to coincide with his birthday.
Hibbert later opened up a Q&A thread on a Morrissey fan website, writing:
“It’s been 24 hours, if anyone has questions….fire away. I will do my best to answer them. I suppose the main question is “why now” ? It’s been a long time. I once had a friend, who found a singer, for six months we rehearsed, talked, examined possibilities. The friend convinced me to leave the band I was with, and join him. We were kids, to be fair, but…
”It’s a sweet, innocent, charming recording and one that I am fond of.
Anyhow, this means a lot more to some people than it does me, it’s out there because it brings joy to people.
”We change as we age, if you can make people happy then do it, that’s ‘why now.’ It was set to premiere on my birthday because anticipation is exquisite, we now live in an “on demand” society, I prefer the old ways.
”If anyone is old enough to remember the excitement of Thursday evenings, or the countdown on Sundays, cassette recorder at the ready, fingers hovering above play+(red)record, you will remember the old ways.”
He provided the following details about the tape’s origins:
“Hi there, [Marr] gave me a cassette, I presume (though can not confirm) that it came from his Portastudio. I would imagine that if they kept a version, it has prob got lost, as it was only recorded for me to put the bass line to. Back then, you couldn’t just research on the net, I wasn’t aware of the song, so needed something to go off. It’s a fairly obscure track, plus the version they gave me had a different tempo.”
The Smiths, of course, would go on to become one of the most celebrated bands of the post-punk era, though they only lasted five years. Hibbert was only with the group for a short time, eventually being replaced by bassist Andy Rourke.
Listen to the demo here.