London/1987. Not England but Ohio. Far from the UK music scene. A small town with one movie theater and a high school with no windows. I am not listening to AC/DC or Aerosmith; I am listening to the second British invasion. It is 1987 and I hear the Smiths/The Queen is Dead at a friend’s house. I am in love with everything about it. I get a copy and begin playing it over and over in my walkman. I lie in the middle of my bedroom lost in the posters on my wall and feelings that I don’t understand. I rewind “I Know it’s Over” until the tape begins to warp. It is still my favorite Smiths’ song. I am 16 and I am not 16. I couldn’t relate to teenagers even when I was one. Until I discovered bands like the Smiths, I felt completely lost — connected to nothing. In towns like mine, you were either inside, outside, or “other”. “Big Mouth Strikes Again” is my most significant song not because I like it but because it transports me to one of my favorite teenage memories.
1988: I am 17. My friend and I decide to sneak into our first club on the Ohio State University campus. It is called the Travel Agency… a tiny little dark hole on High Street where you can hear goth and synth music escaping through a vertical crack in a black painted door. I have my best friend’s sister’s i.d. and my best friend has a fake. I look nothing like the photo, but no one can see a damn thing in the dark or they just don’t care. I get my stamp and order a vodka and cranberry. “Big Mouth Strikes Again” starts and I head straight for a dance floor that is now being invaded by Morrissey look alikes. The night is over in 2 hours. I sneak back into my house through an unlocked bedroom window and fall asleep to “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”. There isn’t a memory that music will let you forget. That’s the beautiful curse of it. The Smiths had such a short career but they were magic. For a melancholic and sensitive teenager, they were the perfect band. Still are.
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It is impossible to pick a favourite Smiths’ song. I will go for “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” purely because it is the song that made me discover The Smiths when I was a teen, it’s the song everybody knows. Morrissey’s beautiful voice along with Johnny Marr’s melodic guitar playing…with a catchy chorus thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love!
“Stretch Out and Wait”. I feel like this is Morrissey on full-on adorable mode. His voice is light and sweet and there are some absolutely beautiful musical phrases: “two icy cold hands conducting the way. It’s the eskimo blood in my veins.” Gets me every time. It reminds me of growing up in a small town and teen romances, meeting boys on their estate and discovering each other together. ‘All I do know is we’re here and it’s now’ is such a good way to live life. It’s dreamy and beautiful.
Rush and a Push” will always be very special to me. Around 1988, my then bf gave me a copy of Strangeways to listen to on my Walkman for my cycle home. From that first amazing track, I was hooked for life!
“Hand in Glove” because it’s the way I feel about @TalbotRothwell xx
“A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours” because it is the sentiment I have tattooed up my arm.