Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before

You know, it's kinda funny how, after eight years of living here, I bitch and moan about the weather and how dreary it is. Today was just one of those days where, if I had allowed myself, I would have stayed in pajamas and curled up on the couch to watch endless episodes of Thomas and Friends or Dora the Explorer, but instead, I mustered up everything I could and got myself and Mr. Na bundled up to leave the house for awhile.

I was in such a pissy mood, too. First, Mr. Na insisted on taking THREE Mega-Blok trucks--the kind that come apart in three pieces. So I'm toting my messenger bag, sippy cup, a bottle of water for me, my keys and his three trucks to the car and as I lift him in to the car seat, one of the pieces goes flying underneath. So while it's pouring outside and Mr. Na is demanding I retrieve his beloved truck piece, I'm crawling underneath my car to try and find it.

Then, halfway up the street, I realize I had forgotten my shopping list--something that is a MUST HAVE when you have a 2-1/2 year-old sitting in your shopping cart, playing slapjack with your hands. So I had to turn around, park, run back inside and grab the list.

Finally, I make my way back up the street and turn on my MP3 player. I've got a Phat Noise that holds 2800 songs and I use every single mega-byte of it. As I flip through my 30 or so "Discs" (folders of different bands or genres), I come across The Smiths and I am instantly transformed. There are very few bands who have that sort of seratonin-like effect on me.

The first single I ever bought of The Smiths was a 12" of "What Difference Does it Make?" issued by Rough Trade in January 1984. For the longest time, I thought it was Morrissey on the cover, in blue sepia, holding a glass of milk (and I never made the correlation that Terence Stamp was the head bad guy in Superman 2). Either way, The Smiths alleviated any middle class teenage angst I carried around, though I'm sure Morrissey would be the first to roll his eyes at the mere thought of me. I wasn't some punk living on the Dole in Manchester--I was a 15 year-old Orange County KROQ groupie with a penchant for OP and Vans, not plaid pants and body piercings, though I preferred to run with the best of them (ahem: the best that Burbank could provide, that is).

Morrissey's nonepareil voice was the perfect accompaniment to Johnny Marr's guitar. Marr, who is one of the best 12-string guitarists--bar none (in fact my favorite Talking Heads song is "Nothing But Flowers" where Marr's 12-string kicks ass).

I had the pleasure of seeing The Smiths at the Hollywood Paladium in 1985. It was a hell of a show, only to end abruptly because a skinhead bounded up on to the stage and grabbed Morrissey. Thankfully, it was during the first or second encore. It was still sheer bliss.

While interning at Capitol Records in 1987, my boss stuck out her tongue when I put "Louder Than Bombs" in the tape player we shared. By the time "Oscillating Wildly" came on, she asked if she could borrow the tape.
"Take it," I said. "I'm getting the CD after work."

It's still one of my favorites after all these years, though I will say, my all-time favorite song is "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." It has always been the song I listened to nonstop when shit went down for me, regardless of what it was: breakups, divorce, death, miscarriage--whatever.

The Smiths--to me--was one of those bands who, whenever I go to England, I stop and reflect, thanking the Queen and all of her country's problems so that a band so amazing as The Smiths could have fodder. It's really no wonder that God chastised Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People for never signing them.

Despite their breakup, The Smiths will always be a favorite.

As I drove in traffic this morning, listening to "Stop Me if You Think That You've Heard This One Before" I caught a glimpse of Mr. Na in the review mirror, head bobbing. He was in the zone.

You know, this kid's got good taste.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Margaret! I can relate! My first Smiths - er, this was Morrissey post-Smiths I guess - experience was w/ Vauxhall and I. Gawd, all those songs, but especially "The More You Ignore Me" and "The Lazy Sunbathers" had me transfixed. Then, off Viva Hate, "Bengali in Platforms," "Dial a Cliche"...ahh! I suppose, then, I was more into him after the breakup. Hmm. Oh, and this morning found me running to the tune of "Hero Takes a Fall" and "If She Knew What She Wants" (Bangles!). Yep, went out and bought a cassette player so I can revisit all those kickass cassette tapes I've held on to. :)