Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's Time To Talk About The Smiths

There is The Smiths, and then there is everything else.

So in case you have not heard, Morrissey has cancer, which basically sucks. It's not that I'm being selfish or anything, like I just want him pumping out new music forever. I just hope he gets better.

I still listen to The Smiths all the time. They are, by far, my favorite band of all time. Over the decades of my music-listening adventures, my tastes changed wildly. I started listening to music of my parents generation—60s and 70s music. In The Year 2525. Even some 40s and 50s music, like Hound Dog. Then there was all the pop crap that I absorbed through osmosis in the 80s, mostly stuff I sort of hated at the time that I somehow enjoy listening to now. Belinda Carlisle. Foreigner. Journey. Somehow this stuff became stuck in my head and I enjoy it now. I don't fight it, I just go with it. In the face of the auto-tuned crap from today, Belinda Carlisle looks like Mozart now.

After a brief stint with some heavy metal like Iron Maiden, which attracted me more with its cover art than its music, I left my local school district and went to art high school in Manhattan. At my high school, I was exposed to more progressive music. The Smith's Louder Than Bombs was the first album I bought at Tower Records. After that I was hooked. Heavy meal vanished for me and was soon replaced by The Cure, Depeche Mode, Cabaret Voltaire, New Order, Big Audio Dynamite, and Fishbone. There were lots more too.

After high school I delved into darker, harder music. Bauhaus. Then industrial bands like Front 242, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Nitzer Ebb, Einst├╝rzende Neubauten all filled up my ears.

After college my younger brother introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd beyond just The Wall. Then came techno music. Aphex Twin. The Orb. After that was Smashing Pumpkins. Nirvana. Then came Portishead. Massive Attack. Thievery Corporation.

Throughout all of this there was always The Smiths. Even when I foolishly gave away all my Depeche Mode CD singles to some jackass (who probably does not even have them anymore) I never dreamed of giving away my Smiths CDs. I eventually stopped listening to hard industrial music. I rarely put that stuff on anymore.

I am always listening to The Smiths. Always. They never get old. I never get tired of hearing them.

Someone once asked me—referring to The Smiths—why do I like "listening to music that makes me what to slit my wrists?"

I just brushed it off, unable to give an in-depth response then. Now I'd say that The Smiths music runs that fine line between happy and sad. Life, if you are living it correctly, should often have you in poignant moments where laughter and crying are wrestling with one another in your head. The Smiths feel that way to me—the melancholy that comes from extreme happiness or the way sad moments are so bleak because of the happy times in contrast.

The Smiths songs make me happy. They may be melancholy, but that is far more than I can say for much of the other trite pop junk I also enjoy. Much of what I enjoyed from other groups was just vapid songs with clever melodies. The Smiths were more like Bob Dylan, poetic lyrics that have a soul, and music too. Kind of a sad-happy.

The Queen Is Dead was named the greatest album of all time by New Music Express, or NME. Many might not agree. Still, The Smiths have obviously left a big mark on the music world.

I hope Morrissey gets better just so he can live out his years and enjoy some down time. He's already given us so much.

This is one of my all time favorite songs by The Smiths. I know it's Over.

The Queen is Dead