I was about to settle down with a book and play The Fall when I read that Mark E. Smith had died. My hands are shaking. Hitting the keyboard to try type out some sense is all I’ve got.

I’ve been into The Fall for close to 16 years. I worshipped Mark E. Smith. His words were like religious scriptures to me. His words were to the point, honest and hilarious. Observational and vital. Pure and unapologetic. Genius, genuine. Northern. My hero.

Some dismissed him. Those who dismissed him didn’t get him. Those that got him adored him and like me, clung onto his words. For me, his words were my crutch when I was on the dole for a while and his words have rang true whilst I struggle living in a city that I just do not want to be in. His words, his voice, him. The hell do we do without him? I thought he would outlive us all, in a way he will. There will never ever be anyone like Mark E. Smith. There was no one else like him before. No one else will come close to him. He’s one of those people who are just so rare and so precious. I feel like someone has repeatedly punched me in the stomach. Can this just be a joke? Come on now.

His autobiography is my second most read book (my first being Just Kids by Patti Smith.) My copy is well read. It’s been everywhere with me. I’ve taken it on trips, I’ve used it to provide laughs, I’ve quoted it at appropriate and inappropriate times. I’ve clung onto it like a baby holds a blanket for comfort. Mark’s words were a safety net. They always will be. An escape route from the mundane.

The way he used his words was nothing short of brilliant. The guy was a genius. A proper poet. The people’s poet. He had this way of just getting in your head and making everything fall into place. Sure he had a reputation of being difficult or whatever, but he probably had his reasons. People can be idiots at times and he was probably rightfully annoyed at their stupidity. We can all relate to that.

I have this weird ritual that any time I leave London to go home/north, I have to play Hit The North a certain amount of times. When I hear this song, it gives me butterflies because I know I am going to see people I love. It reminds me of home. I don’t know why, but it always has. I used to listen to it at uni when I got homesick. The Fall have always been my band. Everyone has that one band that is theirs (I don’t mean in a “I love them more than you” way at all) They were a band I found on my own. By on my own, I mean staying up late to listen to them on the radio when John Peel would play something by them. I was hooked instantly. First listen and I knew I had found a band that would be a massive part of my life. A band that I would come to rely on over and over again.

Mark E. Smith was undoubtedly the most hardworking person in music. He was my superman. He had this ability to just make you connect to his words in a way that no other could. I know I love Morrissey with all I have, but Mark E. Smith was the King of Manchester. He truly, truly was. He made you want to have a pint with him in his local and just talk about anything and everything. He was so fascinating. I can’t get my head around writing this in past tense. It just doesn’t make sense at all.

I remember finding a copy of The Wonderful and Frightening World Of… in Oxfam on the Isle of Man and thinking I had won the lottery. In my head, it was my version of winning the lottery. It is one of my most played records. A couple years ago my mum got me a bootleg live record at a car boot sale on the Isle of Man along with Captain Beefheart and The Pretty Things.

I know this is all over the place, and there is so much more I could write. Maybe I will another time. For now, I have to let this settle in my head. How most felt about Bowie leaving us is how I feel about Mark E. Smith leaving us. The greatest frontman of all time, one of the greatest writers of all time. Entirely genuine and effortlessly charismatic. His humour and intellect was apparent in every single song, every single record, every single word he spoke, sang and wrote- it was all there. Always.

Mark E. Smith could make you belly laugh, he could make you chuckle at his observations, he could leave you in awe with his wisdom. He made you feel and think so much. He made you see things differently, and it was such an honour. The Fall weren’t a band that you listened to once in a while. They were, and are…fuck they ARE a band that just become so important to you. The amount of times I have had a panic attack and used Hip Priest to calm me down. It’s over 7 minutes and it’s one of the few songs that can calm my mind down. I can zone out, and all is okay.

Maybe it is pathetic, but I genuinely feel like someone has ripped my heart out and punched me in the gut over and over. It’s one of those things you dread. What do you do when your hero goes? I’m at a loss with this one. Like I said, there is so much more I could write and maybe I should have left it longer to get this out so it was written in a better way.

He had this laugh that was like a naughty schoolkid. I can hear it now as I blast out Hip Priest. His cheeky smile was infectious too. He was one of the good ones.

Thank you, Mark E. Smith. Forever my hero. Safe trip x

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