September 20, 2011

My Love Letter To The Smiths

I love The Smiths. I’m sure this is truly shocking information that’s bound to surprise everyone. I mean, I can’t believe I’m even sharing this with you guys. It’s been my scarlet letter for so long—”O” for Obvious Homosexual Music Choice. But listen, The Smiths taught alternative gays how to love men. It was the oxygen our closeted asses needed to breathe. Morrissey sang what our hearts needed to hear, which was, “I’m sad, horny, and can someone please have sex with me?”

I first heard The Smiths in the most uncool way possible. I was 13 years old and doing the chores around the house when I had heard an angelic voice begin to waft through the TV. We had Direct TV at the time (so chic) and I had put it on an eighties music satellite radio station to listen to while I Cinderella’d my way through the living room. Upon hearing that tortured voice, I dropped my broom immediately and rushed over to the TV to see who it was. When I saw that it was The Smiths, I instantly thought of the book, Perks of Being A Wallflower, and that song “Asleep.” “I know this band. They’re way influential,” I thought to myself. “I should check them out ASAP and tell my friends about them. Instant indie cred!” At 13, I only had a blurry watercolor of my gayness. I knew it was strange that I was so obsessed with Mary Cherry and Nicole Julian from Popular, and I definitely felt weird about the fact that I occasionally wore a shirt around my head so I could have long hair, but I couldn’t really grasp the concept of loving men. I wasn’t ready for that yet. But over the years, The Smiths and Morrissey began to teach me how.

I became one of those people who was so profoundly touched by a band’s music. Their lyrics mirrored my feelings exactly and when they were layered upon those jangly guitars, I was in heaven. Although I remained in the closet for a few more years, I was unabashedly in love with The Smiths. I even put that super gay poster of Johnny Marr and Morrissey on my wall, which completely confused my parents and friends. “I just really love them, okay?”, I would tell them. I remember spending countless hours in my bedroom staring at the ceiling and listening to Morrissey wail on my stereo. He became much more than a musician to me; he was my mentor. He was telling me the big gay secrets of the world and teaching me about love and heartbreak. I ate it up and then cried… a lot because, damn, his stuff is depressing.

Over time, I stopped listening to The Smiths so much and they became sort of like an afterthought. When someone would ask me what my favorite band was, I would have to think for a moment before remembering The Smiths. But that doesn’t mean I love them any less. When I listen to them now, it’s like a special treat. They still fill me with joy, which is rare with a band I loved in high school. All the others — Rilo Kiley, Modest Mouse, Tilly & The Wall — died a fiery death but The Smiths were spared.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Morrissey perform at Carnegie Hall, but I unfortunately don’t remember any of it. My anxiety with crowds became unbearable so I took half a Xanax before the show started. Big mistake. All I can recall is someone trying to rush the stage and Morrissey being like, “Um, no.” TC mark

image – Stephen Wright