“Frankly, Mr Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck,
I’ve got the 21st century breathing down my neck.”
There are some records after one listen stick with you for the rest of your life. These are the records that become your life, save your life, ARE your life. The records you turn to when there isn’t a soul around. A certain is your crutch, and whenever you hear it a bout of strength comes over you. Feelings come in waves, in odd numbers, in even numbers, on a Tuesday afternoon when gazing out of a 4th floor window. It hits you when you start to forget who you are, what you are and how tough you are.
1986. The year of many great records. And for better or for worse, the year I entered the world 6 weeks before my due date. Quite possibly the only time I’ve ever been early. Prior to my birth several months before, The Smiths released the wonderful (and equally wonderfully titled) The Queen Is Dead. Their highly influential third record. Many fans of the band do regard this as their best work, and you really cannot find any faults within this record. Everything about it is remarkable and ahead of its time. The lyrics show Morrissey at his best (whilst in The Smiths) and are full of words that will make you smirk, laugh, cry, think- anything and everything.
Of course I’ve been one of those who leaned on I Know It’s Over when I first had my heart torn out. I found so much comfort in this song, and having your heart broken is a very isolated feeling- which is why music is such a vital part of the healing process. This song just has this honesty to it that shows what it is like to be part of something that is no longer there, but you cling to it. Every word is brutally open and I think it might be one of the easiest songs in the world to relate to. There are so many lines in this song make you feel weak at the knees because of how they hit you in the gut. “It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Easily one of my favourite lyrics of all time. It’s also one I want tattooed on me. In time, I probably will.
Then you have the genius and wit in songs like The Queen Is Dead and Frankly, Mr Shankly. The Queen Is Dead has so much humour, and one line that really shows this is: “She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing” I said: “that’s nothing – you should hear me play piano.” As someone who cannot sing nor play piano, I can identify with this. I also haven’t broken into the Palace with a sponge and rusty spanner.
Bigmouth Strikes Again is also another that shows how brilliant Morrissey’s songwriting was then (and obviously still is.) And I do suppose it is one of those you can play, and think of someone who gets on your last nerve, but you wouldn’t wish any harm upon them. Aside from the humour, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side shows this captivating sensitivity within Morrissey’s words, and the way he sings it is with such care, longing and slight caution. I just think the last part of the song, “And when you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go?” This is line that I remember floating in my head every single time I tried to leave home but it didn’t quite work out. As luck would have it, today is exactly 3 years since I left home for good. I’ve had some great times, some really awful times but I’ve made some brilliant friends in doing so. I wouldn’t change a thing, well maybe one or two. Or three. Everything happens because it must, and it works out- for the most part.
I can’t talk about this record without mentioning of their most famous songs and one of the greatest songs of all time. I’m a HUGE fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, and sometimes I feel like a lesser fan by claiming There Is A Light That Never Goes Out as my favourite song. But hear me out, if you can tolerate any more of my words. There Is A Light was a song I used to play on repeat in my room most evenings, before I went to sleep and when I woke up as I had to face the torment of secondary school. The words embodied escaping. The only way I could escape was through songs. Through Morrissey’s words. Through his words I found a world that made me feel okay with being out of place, a misfit, an outsider. His words were and still are everything to me. We always need someone on our side, and he’s on mine. I’m on his. This song for me just embodies hope. For those who claim he’s miserable, I urge them to play The Queen Is Dead- take the words in. There are songs there to make you laugh. His humour is something else. Especially on this record.
For me, I know that without this record a lot of bands I love would not have ever formed. The influence that The Queen Is Dead has on so many bands, even 30 years on is just astonishing and beautiful to see, and hear. I can’t imagine my life without this record. I don’t know what I would have and would do without it. It’s got everything you’d need from a best friend in it- it feels like home. I know I’ve mainly touched on Morrissey’s lyrics here, but for me lyrics are everything. I know how brilliant this record and how they all created something truly inspiring on it. I know how important each note played and how each word sung is on this record. I know. I know. A band/singer will always find you when you are lost, for me it is obvious it was The Smiths/Morrissey. I’m going to be the same age as one of my favourite records soon. Suddenly hitting 30 doesn’t seem so bad.
I never do this, but I’ve written this for my mum. The person who is responsible for my love for The Smiths, Morrissey and music. The person who I love more than anything in the world and the person who, when I grow up- I hope I’m just like. The only person I’ll go to a Morrissey show with. There’s something quite special about watching your hero on stage whilst hugging your heroine next to you, at the same time. I love you, and thank you for everything. You’re my light that never goes out x