I know exactly the first Smiths song I heard. It was “How Soon is Now,” and It’s a shame that it was by way of “The Wedding Singer.” I kind of liked it in the movie, because when I was a kid, that was a great movie. [Now, every time I hear it, it still stirs up some negative connotations (oh MAN this song was in an ADAM SANDLER movie!). ]
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I actually were aware of The Smiths. There was a discussion at my work about seriously depressing music. They didn’t sound super appealing so, I didn’t bother, but it was a year later when I bought my first Smiths CD. Then I was excited. I knew this was a band I should like. All the “cool kids” I knew liked them, so if I did too, I’d be cool like them.
Many who describe losing their Smiths virginity as awe-inspiring transcendence, but it didn’t click right away. I thought they were good, but not, like, life-changing. Over time, they grew on me and the next Spring I turned 21 and started going to Transmission, where The Smiths are heavily played on a regular basis. Eventually I collected all their albums and finally started getting into Morrissey’s solo work, which is highly listenable and addictive music, but nowhere the depth, the timelessness, the genius of The Smiths.
Morrissey is the mouthpiece for entire generations– young 20-somethings who know the meaning of isolation and humiliation. They can’t go out for fear of rejection. Morrissey’s character is subversive to the modern pop star and more shy and confused about his sexuality than many of his listeners are. He’s the Oscar Wilde of 20th century anguish. But he’s also droll and clever and his words and biting and witty. His whole manner and charisma are unparalleled and unprecedented in the music world. The last enigma in pop.
There’s a hysteria and fanaticism surrounding him. The tradition started when he was with The Smiths. Fans would rush the stage just to touch him. As if he were The Messiah and that they could be cured. I admit that I have been put under that spell too.
I finally got to see him in December 2011. I’d waited all day in freezing Chicago, and ended up dead center, 15 feet away from him the whole time. At the end, the crowd stormed the stage, and I was pinned up against the barrier, grasping desperately at the air, hoping to just touch any part of him. He reached and I reached but…
After he left, I felt unfulfilled; emotionally and physically taxed to my very end. He looked and sounded gorgeous, and I was within spitting distance of him, but I didn’t get to touch him. Not to mention, this show came after a previous postponement which the news initially made me heartsick and devastated. Finally seeing him was numbing and elating at the same time.
He was due to come to Minneapolis after 3 years away this last October, and then to Iowa the day after. This whole group of us (some of my best and brightest friends) were planning to go.
And it was rescheduled 3 days before. Morrissey is actually well-known for canceling shows. Sometimes he never reschedules them. This is a rite of passage every Morrissey fan has to go through. It’s now happened to me 3 times. So, Tomorrow.
Yes. It will happen [NOPE. HE POSTPONED AGAIN!]. Will I enter into the ranks of the coveted stage-jumpers? Stupid and reckless as they are, they have something that’s the envy of every lonely soul on the planet.
Don’t let me down, Morrissey. You beautiful bastard.