Sunday, August 05, 2007

Will nature make a man of me yet?

"Is this...? Is it...? Oh it's him..that Morrissey! I haaaaaate him" she groaned passionately. "How can you listen to that?"

"Well, it's The Smiths actually - what's to hate? There is only love here". I say matter of factly. "Only love" I add for emphasis.

"My sister used to listen to him all the time during year 12 and draw these pictures of Morrissey. I hate him"

That would be my work colleague saying that, with her hands thrown up and looking a little miffed. She happened to walk in while I was playing The Smiths very loudly as I prepared the materials for my next class. I don't know what it is about The Smiths that get people so riled up but someone always has some sort of opinion on them.

It's embarrassing but since those who read these ramblings of mine already understand just how much of a dork I am I'm going to share how I first became acquainted with The Smiths. I was first introduced to The Smiths via the character Spike from Degrassi Junior High - yes that's right that funny little pre-teen Canadian show (that I'm still a big fan of by the way). She wore the band t-shirts quite often and I, being a fan of her character thought that whoever they were they were obviously cool. So the seed had been planted like that, you see. Sometimes things work out that way.

It really wasn't until quite a few years later that I actually realised how awesome they were - Morrissey's witty lyrics combined with Marr's brilliant guitar became the soundtrack to my university life.

I guess the cliche of The Smiths is that it's sad sack music for disaffected youth. Okay, fine I understand that - Morrissey's lyrics aren't exactly sunshine and lollypops - they are a product of Thatcher's Britain after all. Then again the instrumental behind the lyrics isn't sad music at all - it's upbeat and it's rhythmic, even poppy. Not exactly music to lay down and die by. I enjoy the juxtaposition of music and lyrics very much.

That being said - I listened to them most often in that period of my life where everything was black except for the music. Imagine a pin prick of light that grows just a little bigger every time you play a song and here you have how I felt about music then - and The Smiths were part of that. I don't exactly know how I made it through the smoke except to attribute it to the music - and for the record there was lot of music involved not just The Smiths.

Unless you've been there in that kind of hopeless situation then you don't know what something seemingly arbitrary like music can mean but I take it that there are a few people who do know what I'm talking about because they have been affected by music to the point where their life is changed by it too. We're the true fans who have given the music life beyond the record. I know it's a cliche but it's true. The Smiths were around at a time where nothing else but music could get through to me. They're part of the significant and important soundtrack of my life. That's not to diminish the cause because soundtracks are some of my favourite of all albums.

Maybe the truth of the matter is that nice, well adjusted people with a halo like glow around them don't listen to The Smiths. I know one other person who really loved them. "I listen to them every night. I listen to them when I'm stoned" she said once. A few years later she was living Girl, Interrupted lifestyle complete with hospitalisation so...I don't know - maybe only a certain type of brain chemistry finds The Smiths worthwhile. You do have to wonder: "what came first, the music or the misery?" but for me any misery had came before. The Smiths have made me feel nothing if not alive.

As for the offended song that prompted the diatribe above. Why of course, it was this one. I've played it on the journal before, but it's worth a second go. It's the brilliant and perfect This Charming Man.

This Charming Man - The Smiths

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