I remember a rather boring course on human behaviour in one of the university auditoriums. The professor was a psychiatrist unqualified to teach. But I never missed a course. I tried to show up early and always sat at the exact same spot near the back. On the first week of class I scribbled “the devil will find work for idle hands to do”. The second week greeted me with “I stole and then I lied just because you asked me to.” And on it went.
For us gentle folks, the above is true. We must be very strong. Then we often snap. We whine, at least on the inside. We suffer perhaps from hyperinnocence. We expect conformity and kindness. We are democratic and idealistic. We have a tough time when having to choose money over compassion. Most of all, we have trouble understanding that unrequited love is part of life. As are all other unrequited things. You can’t force someone to feel otherwise. We empathize with heartbreak yet seem aloof or even afraid of tenderness. It’s as if our low self-esteem of the past is still haunting us.
I was introduced to the music of The Smiths in high school by one of the cool kids who was sensitive on the side. He made me promise not to tell others. So there I was. My first song was What Difference Does It Make. This is why I scribbled it years later on a clean university desk.
Morrissey in his youth, including his whole tenure with The Smiths, looked like the begrudged gay matinee idol. Better yet, he looked as if he idolized matinee idols. To me, he wrote lyrics that spoke to my soul. The fog cleared when I would hear I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday, Pashernate Love, or the classic How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel. At least it’s a classic for me.
As an avid carnivore, I hate that Morrissey doesn’t come to Canada because “we” cull seals. I don’t fucking cull them. And the U.S. does things much worse. But for a person who thinks terrorists killing people is like people killing animals, he is someone who at least needs to be respected for standing up for something even in the wrongest moment possible. It’s sort of like we do for other reasons. Right? Ok, maybe not.
I was excited when You Are The Quarry came out. It was Morrissey coming-of-age comeback. He ceased being a matinee idol. He was a rocking badass. Yet the teen girls who loved him were now older and still understood. I don’t know if there’s anyone who has people attacking the stage as much as Morrissey has. He almost asks for it. Guys, girls, anyone. Trying to touch him and/or give him roses. He sometimes sneers “Good try ” when someone rips half his shirt off as he half-loses the mic before the burly guards come to separate them. But it’s all about fun and love. On both sides.
None of my girlfriends have really understood Morrissey’s significance in my life. I tell one reason is defiant t-shirts like the Je Suis Morrissey one above that should put it in a general nutshell. He does what we would love to do but are too afraid to. I don’t even care if I agree with him.
But in essence, it’s the lyrics and music that represent the struggle for freedom of identity and the everyday mundane nastiness preventing this from happening. We feel down or tired and we listen to songs like How Soon Is Now and Ganglord to associate with and then something like I Like You with the famous line “You’re not right in the head and nor am I “.
Which brings us back to rock music itself. Let’s not forget Morrissey was influenced by punk, among other things.
I forgave my bully. Told it to his face as 2 others were holding him for me to punch. As they let him go and I heard his body hit the ground, I remembered how hard it was to be gentle and kind. So I helped the bully to his feet.
Those long afternoons salvaged by a Morrissey/Smiths song meant more at the time than any single thing on earth. Just like getting that phone call back, they had a lot of worth.
This is the best Smiths/Morrissey album. It’s a compilation that introduced their biggest hit, How Soon Is Now.
And though he seems like half the man he used to be, I still need to thank Morrissey for his past body of work. Forever a legend.