This song was written in reaction to an incident where the BBC DJ, Steve Wright, played the trite and spunky Wham! track, "I'm Your Man," following a news report about the Chernobyl disaster – a devastating nuclear accident that occurred on April 16, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. Guitarist, Johnny Marr, recalled to NME in 1987: "'Panic' came about at the time of Chernobyl. Morrissey and myself were listening to a radio report about it. The stories of this shocking disaster comes to an end and then immediately we're off into Wham's 'I'm Your Man.' I remember actually saying, 'What the f*ck has this got to do with people's lives?' And so, 'Hang the blessed DJ.' I think it was a great lyric, important and applicable to anyone who lives in England."
Suggestion credit: Thomas - Marion, IN
This song bemoans the trivial state of contemporary pop music and tells listeners to "burn down the disco." Some misconstrued this as a racist attack on black music. Marr refuted these claims to NME in 1987: "To those who took offense at the 'burn down the disco' line I'd say, 'Please show me the black members of New Order!' For me, personally, New Order make great disco music, but there's no black people in the group. The point I'm making is that you can't just interchange the words 'black' and 'disco', or the phrases 'black music' and 'disco music'. It makes no earthly sense."
This was the first song to feature Craig Gannon on guitar. Gannon was initially hired to replace bassist, Andy Rourke, who was fired due to his heroin addiction. Rourke was rehired a few weeks later, so Marr offered Gannon the position of second guitarist instead.
Musically, this song is based on T. Rex's glam rock anthem, "Metal Guru." Marr recalled to Les Inrockuptibles in 1999: "When we wrote 'Panic' Morrissey was obsessed with 'Metal Guru' and wanted to sing in the same style. He didn't stop singing it in an attempt to modify the words of 'Panic' to fit the exact rhythm of 'Metal Guru.' He also exhorted me to use the same guitar break so that the two songs are the same!"
NME readers named this the Song of the Year in 1986. 21 years later, in 2007, "Panic" was ranked at #21 on the same magazine's The 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever list.
This was a single only release and consequently did not feature on a traditional studio album. It was later included on the 1987 compilation album, Louder Than Bombs, which consists of a mixture of singles, remixes and B-sides.
The Australian indie rock band The Panics took their name from this song.
Randy from Grande Prairie, AbI would like to add Ron Sexsmith to that list. Not the singer that Morrissey is but an incredible wordsmith. Give him a listen.
Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomMy mate was at school with Morrissey and said that when he was 16, the 11 year-old pupils used to beat him up. He was a real soft target....
Jay from Syracuse, NyMorrissey is England's best living writer--any genre. His handling of the language, the originality of phrasing, the wit and polish of professional songwriting combined with the confessional pathos of amateur rock--without rival. He and Dylan are the only two lyricists of the last 50 years whose work I can imagine human beings reading a thousand years from now--if there are still human beings then. I marvel at his skill.