I can still remember the first time I fell in love. It sounded like "There is a Light Never Goes Out". It made sense; Morrissey pleading for the privilege, 'to die by your side... it's such a heavenly way to die.
' It was beautiful. It was real. It made sense. Up until that point, pop songs were nothing to me; they were peripheral jingles at best. But The Smiths changed all of that that. They were most pervasive in their ability to distill deeply humorous, sarcastic, and insightful lyricism with pop song perfection. At least for my generation, the idea of fronting for Led Zeppelin or The Beatles seemed obvious and antiquated. By contrast, the sort of discussion brought about by The Smiths was exciting, the sort obscured to those not eager enough to dig deeper. As kids, they became our band. Being a fan of The Smiths did not mean you simply listened to them. You absorbed every facet and microcosm of their importance, studying closely their allusions and their significance. After all, it was in "Cemetery Gates" that a hunger for literature was born, with references to Wilde triggering my obsession of sorts with The Picture of Dorian Grey
. It was more than just music. It was a popular movement into how we chose to define ourselves. Of course, that would go a way towards justifying The Smiths as anything more than an intelligent pop band. It certainly says nothing of songs like "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" or "Bigmouth Strikes Again". They weren’t multifaceted songs. They weren’t especially subtle. They just knew how to hit that angsty part of a foolish teenager. But that’s the essence of The Queen is Dead
. Strip it of its nuance and impact and what you have is pure and simple: a pop album.
I do not know if I could ever do The Queen is Dead
justice by perverting its majesty with words. In the daily commute between work and school, music has come to exist as static, an unappreciated piece of the background that has to work harder than ever to get my attention. I just don't care for music the same way I do The Queen is Dead
. It knows me. It knew me when I heard it for the first time, confused by its honesty and affronted by its emotions. It knew me when I couldn't help falling in love, becoming an idiot in the eyes of my obsessions. It knew me when I recommended it to friends, forever a source of pride for everyone who knew me as, ‘that guy that liked The Smiths.’ When I had the privilege of seeing Johnny Marr on my nineteenth birthday, his performance of "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" stirred something deep inside of me; it seemed as if, suddenly, the preceding years of anxiety and neurosis became obscured in the rearview-mirror of something much more than nostalgia. It was love. It was beauty. It was innocence. And in that moment I felt vulnerable to some kind of emotion, on the precipice of weeping from the overload. Yet, in no longer than 5-minutes, it was done. It is a pop song, after all; that most perfect of pop songs. The sort of pop song that can make 5 years seem like the time it takes to get to work. That’s why I can attest to the sort of feeling expressed in knowing that, ‘tonight is just like any other night… while they are in each other's arms
.’ It’s fu
cked up and raw, but most importantly, it’s a lyric in a pop song. It pulls me in with a careless melody and assures me I’m not alone. I don’t know if the critical language could ever fully comprehend that.