Ask (The Smiths song)

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Single by The Smiths
from the album The World Won't Listen
Released 20 October 1986
Recorded Summer 1986
Genre Alternative rock, indie pop
Length 3:18 (album version)
3:10 (The Very Best... version)
2:59 (single version)
Label Rough Trade
Writer(s) Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s) John Porter, Steve Lillywhite (remix)
The Smiths singles chronology
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"

"Ask" is a song by The Smiths. It was released as a single in October 1986, reaching No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart. As with most of The Smiths' singles, it was not included on an original album. It can be found on the compilations The World Won't Listen and Louder Than Bombs as well as the live album Rank, where it is introduced as the band's new single. The UK cover shows Yootha Joyce on the set of the 1965 film Catch Us If You Can. The song features Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals. In 1995, the single was reissued, reaching No. 62 in the UK Singles Chart.

There are two versions of this song. The version that appears on the single releases and the album The Very Best of The Smiths fades out slightly sooner and has the vocal track lasting until the end of the song. The backing vocals in this version are also mixed differently and are louder. The version that appears on all albums (save for the one listed above) fades out later (though the end of the track is audible, albeit at a very low level) and has the vocal track ending before the fade begins.

Craig Gannon, one-time rhythm guitarist for The Smiths has stated that he came up with some of the guitar part for "Ask" during his short stint as a member of the band:

"Me and Johnny were sat in the library playing acoustic guitars and they must have been miked up as we were probably putting down the acoustic tracks for 'Panic'. I just started playing the chord sequence which would later become 'Ask' in exactly the way it appears on the record. Johnny then joined in playing the same... I then forgot about the idea and left it at that... Johnny must have played Morrissey this idea or given him the recording I already mentioned. I was completely surprised as we were now recording this for the next single. The only section of the chord structure that I didn't come up with for 'Ask' was the middle eight section with the chords E-minor, D and C. That was actually what Johnny came up with. All the way through the song there is an overdub with me and Johnny sat around a mike with acoustics, playing a riff that he came up with towards the end of the recording of the song. That is a great riff and a real hook but it was still just an overdub and I felt the song was nearly complete without it. Up until the release of 'Ask' I still thought I'd be given a writing credit. When I found that I wasn't given a writing credit, it didn't really bother me, but I thought it was pretty bad that no one even acknowledged that it was my idea in the first place."

Track listing[edit]

7" RT194
No. Title Length
1. "Ask" (single version) 2:59
2. "Cemetry Gates"   2:39
12" RTT194/CD RTT194CD
No. Title Length
1. "Ask" (single version) 2:59
2. "Cemetry Gates"   2:39
3. "Golden Lights"   2:38

Later re-releases of the "Ask" single would include the album version, which runs for 3:15, instead of the single version included on the original pressings.

Etchings on vinyl[edit]



The British etchings are references to Elvis Presley's Are You Lonesome Tonight? and this single's B-side song "Cemetry Gates". Presley would feature on the cover of the single Shoplifters of the World Unite.


Chart (1986) Peak
Ireland (IRMA) 9
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 14
Chart (1995) Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 62