Shirley Manson.

“I think it’s a great thing to have failed in life and then pulled yourself up by the boot straps and actually done something, because then you appreciate it more.”

Here’s to the first woman (aside from my mum) that I remember admiring and wanting to be just like. A few years later, I added Patti Smith to my list. Basically, I admire strong people who talk from the heart. I do that, but I’m labelled various expletives. I’ll never win, I’ve accepted this. So, I’m going to try my best to write down why I think and feel Shirley is so fucking influential.

About a month ago I wrote about Bleed Like Me. Shirl saw it, and cried. If she sees this and cries again then I’m going to have to buy her flowers aren’t I? I’m doing this for many reasons- but the main one being, her lyrics have given me hope. I do feel ashamed to say that they saved my life. I’d probably be dead if it wasn’t for her lyrics. To this day, they have been the only band to sum up every good and bad feeling I have ever felt. The hope and drive their music has instilled in me goes beyond my own comprehension. So with that in mind, this is sort of like my “thank you” to Shirley. And in a way, I guess I hope to make someone else who looks up to her, feel less fucking alone with it. Let’s face it, we live in a time where having certain feelings are made to be hushed. No. Don’t let them shut you up anymore. Listen to a Garbage song, and it will place some courage in you. It has done it for me so many times. I’m probably going to have to cry after writing this hah..or I’ll just go look at cute photos of Snow Leopards again. Or have a cup of tea. Who knows. Maybe I’ll do all three. I’m so wild.

I remember seeing a Garbage video on the tellybox for the first time. I was in awe. I think the first time, the music just went over my head. I was utterly and completely enthralled with Shirley from the start. The video appeared again a few days later I guess, and the music..the song just stayed with me. I was only about 7 or 8 years old, but I just connected. I have this horrific trait where I am entirely empathetic, it’s pathetic. It never does me any favours, no matter what. I don’t learn though.

Why is Shirley such an influential force? How long have you got? No I’m deadly serious. There are not many things that hold my attention. Not because I’m ignorant, but because I find it hard to focus most of the time. Yet, I can sit in silence and read a book- no problem. I’ve learnt to not question my mind and what I do anymore. I love Shirley so much because everything she does and says is with the utmost honesty, pride and passion. She says things that can drag you out of the fiery pits of Hell and so you can feel comforted- because she has been there too. These are the factors that make a person believable. Speak from experience, and people will listen. I listen to songs like Medication, You Look So Fine, Metal Heart and I just feel like someone is summing up past feelings. Present feelings too at times. Some people go to a friend for advice. I go listen to Garbage because her lyrics say all I cannot get out of my mouth. Always on the tip of the tongue, and that is where they seem to stay. I frustrate myself, but whatever. I’m human.

Shirley is influential in my eyes because, she makes you feel okay with having feelings. If you’re pissed off- say so. If you feel happy- let it out. She makes you feel normal (the hell is normal anyway, I know) with however you are feeling. Sure it isn’t okay to feel low. But it is healthy to have a balance of feelings. Today you may feel trapped, but tomorrow something may happen to make you smile. You just don’t know. And the never knowing part keeps me alive. That’s what Garbage’s music did. I didn’t exactly have the best teenage years (did anyone?!) and Shirl’s lyrics made it a little bit easier. I’m 25 years old now, and some say being an adult is easy. It isn’t. Nothing is easy, why should it be? Her lyrics taught me so much. From accepting I was different to appreciating the fact that I HAVE to stick around and push myself- but do not let anyone push me around. Sure at times I let people walk over me, but I’ve grown to be so cautious of people. Trust is like love- do not give it away unless you are so sure. Just another thing I learnt from Shirley’s lyrics.

It is important to be true to yourself and stop hiding. This goes for anything. You can take it as sexuality if you want to, that’s totally fine. But ALWAYS be honest with yourself. It is okay to feel. I’m just regurgitating all the things that Shirley’s lyrics have taught me, and I don’t think I can full explain it all in one go. But I am trying.

I’m still holding on for a Garbage UK tour this year. It’s going to happen, right? It has to. I’ll be at the front shouting every lyric back to the band with all I have. Singing the songs that saved my life and gave me some meaning to it. I’ll be a crying mess, I don’t care at all. With every interview I have read and watched with Shirley, I have always taken something from it. You see, females are frequently subjected to being a certain way in the media. You MUST dress this way, and if you don’t then you are not good enough. Bullshit. I’m not buying into that. I’ll stick to my dark make-up, black jeans and Doc Martens. Fuck what society tells you to be, just be YOURSELF. Yes, another thing Shirley Manson has been teaching me since I was 7 or 8 years old. Do your best to keep yourself strong, but remember it is okay to be weak. I have to carry this around a lot. I listen to Garbage’s music, and sometimes I think what would’ve happened if I never listened to them? Would I have been forever lost? I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know.

I’m writing this listening to Garbage and I cannot help but think I haven’t done Shirley justice with this. That I have missed something out. The struggles in the past she has spoken out on make her someone you can easily connect with. She changed my life and I’ve never met her. If I did, I think all I’d be able to say would be “Thank you.” Maybe that’d be enough. You should always show your appreciation for another in the best way you know how. No, I don’t mean stalking the person you like and yelling “I REALLY ENJOY YOUR FACE.” That’s too far..and creepy.

Everyone has that ONE person who is their definition of inspiring. The person they wish they could be as strong and passionate as. I firmly believe you should be yourself and never emulate others. Admiring and emulating are two different things, but can easily be twisted and misjudged. When I grow up, I want to have the strength and courage Shirley has. Live through it, and don’t be ashamed of who you are. If I realised all this when I was in my teens I would’ve saved myself a lot of..well, shit basically. But, I like to think the older I get the more I understand.

I feel I have missed so much out, but it has all come from the heart. I feel there is so much more I could say as to why she’s so influential and important but right now, this is all I have. I know there’s more just dying to be poured out, and I’m sorry- but for now..this is all there is.

All I know is that I wouldn’t have so much strength and fight in me if it wasn’t for Shirley Manson. I’d do as I was told and I’d accept “No, you cannot do that” or “No, you cannot be that” if it wasn’t for Shirley. Stand-up and speak out. Shout if you have to. But for fucks sake, do not let them take anything from you. Ever.

“It’s a torturous time, when you learn almost everything you really have to know about survival. The important thing to remember when you are living through it, however, is that you have absolutely no idea quite how smart and strong and beautiful the pain will make you. So go forth and suffer…. you’ll rule the world.” 

Thank you Shirley. Just..thank you. Again.

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