Following the acknowledgement that I hadn’t written on this blog for quite some time, I was faced with the dilemma of where to place the blame for this act of negligence. Was I bored of writing? No. Were my days totally full to the brim with more important, unavoidable tasks? Certainly not. Had my growing cereal addition finally got the better of me? Not yet. As this pointless stream of consciousness continued, the conundrum of my lost words playing heavily on my mind, I suddenly became all too aware of the answer as it filled the air around me.
From out of my speakers, the familiar sound of The Smiths.
Morrissey has quite literally, ruined me. Having long been aware of The Smiths and the hype that surrounds them, for years I had never really been bothered enough to give them a listen, sticking it on my musical ‘to-do’ list, along with getting into Janis Joplin and listening to the Pink Floyd albums that no one talks of. Perhaps it was through intuition that I knew it would be dangerous for me and so avoided them for so long, in the same way that some people choose never to smoke crack, i.e.with good reason. But all I can say is thank god I did put it off until the age of 23. If Morrissey had worked his wicked magic on me at the age of say, 16, my life would probably be considerably worse and less enriched right now. I would have had seven less years of musical enjoyment; I would’ve never gone to gigs, made friends, read books or eaten Indian food.
What I’m trying to say is; since properly getting turned on to The Smiths about six months ago, my interest in any other artists has all but diminished, along with the desire to write about music. What more is there to say?! The Smiths are music. Why even bother making more music? We’ve got all we need. We can just listen to that now. What’s the point?!
Of course I’m exaggerating (kind of), but once you realise how incredible The Smiths and Morrissey are, it’s really impossible to imagine how you could ever feel the same about any other band ever again, or even get real enjoyment from other music. Now, I am all too aware of my very strong tendency to slip into intense periods of irrational and unhealthy fanaticism about musicians or bands, but this is different. I knew things were getting serious when I found myself apologising to friends for my repetitive music choices, and often favouring silence if I couldn’t listen to The Smiths, or even silence in preference to lying to myself that I would make another music choice when it was obviously an impossibility. Managing to ween myself off temporarily with Morrissey’s solo efforts - an act as effective as giving methadone to a heroin addict - I was soon back on the hard stuff. Even my inexpressive musical equipment was beginning to look jaded at their thankless task of playing the same six albums over and over again. My faceless ipod looking me in the eyes as if to say MUST WE LISTEN TO STRANGEWAYS ONE MORE TIME?!! WHAT ABOUT THE BEATLES?! YOU USED TO LIKE THEM
At the epicentre of this unhealthy obsession, we find Morrissey. A man for whom my love grows greater each and every day. Sporting a quiff, hearing aid and NHS glasses, he's a man who defies all the norms of what is required of a ‘cool’ frontman; yet these signifiers of the 'anti-cool' are pulled off so impeccably, that he consequently became a style icon like no other. His obsession with the kitchen-sink reality of England, cult film stars and figures from sixties British popular culture influenced much of the visual imagery associated with the band, and made Morrissey an even greater antithesis of the typical frontman.
Amongst the many reasons why he is so worthy of such adoration, is the simple fact that no one else has ever spun lyrics which even vaguely compare to the lines of Morrissey’s crafting.
And the people who are weaker than you or I,
They take what they want from life.
His subject matter, phrasing, depth of suggestion and ability to capture a feeling, thought or emotion effortlessly is unprecedented, and the perfectly balanced dance between wit and darkness is his alone. Not only that, but to have successfully remained an enigma and subject of such intrigue after thirty years in the public eye is an amazing, rare achievement. His decision to give nothing away has made him the most intriguing character; using his time with the press not to hand out every little detail of his life like cheap flyers - as so many do - but to discuss animal rights, condemn the monarchy, highlight the idiocy and irrelevance of politicians, and other such incredibly important things which need to be said by someone in the public eye. Naturally such assertions have also ensured that he's accrued his fair share of haters, but then all the best people are those that piss others off for one reason or another.
No wonder people from every demographic can be found hurling themselves at Morrissey during any live performance, for it does feel like he understands. For every possible occurrence that could happen in life, Morrissey has already written the soundtrack and the lyric that will not only sum up exactly how you feel, but make you feel incredibly grateful to have felt that way; be it good or bad.
If you have never experienced The Smiths fixation, then you would be justified in your confusion over the negative, almost resentful way that I have described it here. But while it can be crippling, intense and socially awkward, it is also wonderful; and comfort can be found in knowing that at the age of 23, I have probably found the best band I will ever hear - and that's okay - because their music is now mine to enjoy, forever.
Here is Panic.
Listen at your peril.