I have no problem with baring my soul, on a page. So I guess this is why I feel with it being Shirl’s birthday, I’m going to write this down. From me to her. Maybe she’ll see it, maybe she won’t. But sometimes you just have to let it out.
Dear Shirley Manson,
I’m not going to be the first or last person to say words similar to what I’m about to write. That alone proves how much of a force you are. You’ve made emotional pain and general emotions less of a chore to deal with. You’ve made demons easier to fight off. You’ve made being an outsider feel less daunting. You made it easier for acceptance of the self.
I was about 8 or 9 when I first saw Garbage on TV. It was when MTV actually played music videos, I know- so rare! I remember seeing the video to Vow and being in utter of the band. Like most, I was drawn to how fearless you appeared on camera. Then I saw Only Happy When It Rains and Stupid Girl. That was it; everything changed after seeing those videos; listening to those songs. Every song you have ever written means more to me than I can even put into words. The Trick Is To Keep Breathing fast became a mantra almost. No matter what, you’ve got to keep going. Even if you just want to stop. And I do wish I could, guess I can’t. You taught me that. I’d rather burn out and try start again. Fight comes from a place that most of us cannot go. Sometimes another person brings it all out of us. I firmly believe you have done that.
I remember skipping college to go and buy Bleed Like Me the day it came out in 2005. I remember that day so clearly. I was nearly 20 years old, and no part of me wanted to go any further. From ages 15 to around then, no part of me understood the point of anything. I held the record in my hands so tightly, and went home. I sat and played it over and over. Growing up is exhausting. I was exhausted. Run Baby Run and Right Between The Eyes did something to me that I’ll never be able to put into words. I guess you can say, they saved my life. Those two songs keep me going. I may be stubborn, and I may not listen to some people, but the words in those songs ignited something. It goes beyond words. Sure I still get miserable; but it’s okay. You taught me how to not be afraid of ugly feelings. You taught me how it is okay to be weak and vulnerable. No one can be strong all the time. Christ knows I like to act like I am though.
Your words are the light at the end of that fucking long tunnel. Being a fan of Garbage doesn’t mean just enjoying the music. It means it gives us something to believe in. And we all need that. I’m not the only one who can say that you saved my life. Knowing others feel the same makes everything less scary, and possibly worth it. Possibly. The older I get, the more I seem to be able to relate to your words. They say being a teenager is hard, but I know being an adult is enough to drive anyone mad. Are you meant to figure stuff out at 25? Because I know nothing. Maybe knowing nothing is the way to go.
Every Garbage song has provided guidance. Every Garbage song has been the security blanket at 4am when there was nothing else. People like you Shirl, well they give hope to those who truly are without. Your voice eases the soul and your words have healed wounds. Old wounds that have been opened up, new wounds that one thinks may never heal.
I still live in hope that one day..one day I get to see Garbage live. Being piss poor is starting to take its toll. But one day, I’ll be at the front. I’ll sing every word as if they were meant for me, and the day after I will have no voice. I will ease the pain by having a small glass of whiskey.
I love seeing photos of you with bands that I love, such as Dum Dum Girls and The Kills. When I saw those photos, I felt like a child at Christmas. You’re such a wonderful force.
This is just the outline of how much I look up to you, and respect you. I’m glad at 8 years old, I saw you on MTV singing the songs that would later become my lifeline.
We shouldn’t fear what we feel. We shouldn’t be afraid to feel. Be kind, be honest, be yourself, find inner peace. That’s what your words have taught me.
Your words have guided me in and out of love, teenage angst, adult insecurities, the good times, the bad times, letting go, holding on. Everything and more.
So, Happy Birthday Shirley. I hope you have the best day possible, you deserve it.
All the love in the universe,