Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What the World Needs Now is One More Blog About The Smiths

I blogged a few weeks ago about how I was excited then apathetic about going to see Morrissey. Then I went to see Bruce Springsteen in Austin on Sunday night. And it was great. Seriously, it was fan-fucking-tastic. I’m not a music journalist anymore so I don’t have to use flowery adjectives to describe the show. Trust me when I say it was an amazing show. And I love Bruce. And I was lucky enough to go in the company of the wonderful Mr. Alan Levy. This was Alan’s 26th Springsteen show. He loves Bruce. A lot. Bruce Springsteen is Alan’s favorite artist. And that made me start to think while we were watching Springsteen….

Why the fuck am I not going to see Morrissey? Regardless of how bad some of his recent stuff has been, it would not be a hyperbole to say that Morrissey saved me and many other teenagers from an adolescence of monosyllabic words and probably liking ska bands or something awful like that. Morrissey and The Smiths literally bleed into every memory I have of high school. I mean I can look at pictures of myself in high school and see the Smithsness just radiating off me. I oozed Smiths fandom. I looked at Alan during the Springsteen show and though he did take a bathroom break during “Outlaw Pete”, there he was for his 26th Bruce show because he loves Bruce. And I decided I had to see Morrissey.

Of course the music journalist, Chuck Klosterman lite in me started thinking about how different but similar Springsteen and Morrissey are. They are both messiahs to their fans. And both terminally depressing. Seriously, “We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest. No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle. No flowers, no wedding dress.” Jesus. I watched when Bruce went to the edge of the stage and how everyone grasped his legs and how creepy that would be in ANY situation other than this show or maybe a Morrissey show. Then it made me giggle thinking about skipping out of gym class to sit with my friend Isaac under the bleachers and listening to Rank and seeing the picture in the fold-out of Morrissey’s shirt being ripped apart like an endless basket of breadsticks at a table full of menopausal secretaries at the Olive Garden.

But then I remembered that Bruce sings a lot about parking in cars with girls and making out and knocking girls up and proving it all night and stuff. Again, I love Bruce Springsteen but that kind of stuff was very foreign to me in high school. First off, I drove my mom’s Dodge Caravan with headlights that didn’t work so nighttime activities in my car were out. I would like to think that the whole “busted headlights” thing was a brilliant ploy on my mom’s part to keep me out of trouble but you really have no idea how square I was in high school. She could have just told me there was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon on to keep me inside and safe. So as much as Bruce fans can pump their fist in the air and think about the glory days they had in the back of a shaggin’ wagon or whatever, my high school days were much more accurately portrayed by lyrics such as “Send me the pillow, the one that you dream on… And I’ll send you mine.” Yeah, again I was not very cool.

This does however give me a chance to tell the story of the three people I encountered on the road to becoming a Smiths fan. I don’t know that all of them know their places exactly in my road to Smiths fan so I would like to tell the story. My first year of high school, I managed to not only become a writer for my high school paper but somehow become the “Entertainment Editor” for it. I think mostly because I made up the position of “Entertainment Editor” then volunteered to fill said position. For my first big piece, I wanted to write a profile of my favorite local DJ, Josh Venable from the Adventure Club.

I kind of worked my way backwards into the Smiths, you see. I loved the Adventure Club and would call and request whatever I considered an obscure Britpop gem (“And God Created Brixton” by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine). This lead to a few telephone and face to face conversations with Josh. One night while Josh was doing his graveyard shift on the Edge, I called to ask him if I could do an interview with him for my school’s paper. He agreed and then somehow in a dramatic shift of topic, he asked me what my favorite Smiths album was. I shamefully admitted that though I knew who they were and that they were important, I didn’t own any or know any songs. Josh played “How Soon is Now?” for me on the air and told me to go to Bills as soon as I could to pick up Meat is Murder. I promised I would. In the meantime, he told me to meet him and his buddy at a Denny’s in North Dallas after his shift was over to do the interview for the paper.

Not wanting to admit that I wasn’t old enough to drive, I had my mom drop me off around the corner from Denny’s that Saturday morning at 6:45am for my first interview with anyone for anything ever. I don’t even remember where I got a recorder. For comedy’s sake, let’s pretend I brought a Teddy Ruxpin with me to record the interview. Josh and his buddy showed up. He introduced his buddy as Zac. I started to nervously ask my questions. When I say “nervously ask my questions” I actually mean “ask questions to the general direction of the empty carafe because I was terrified to make eye contact”. I may still have the tape (inside Teddy Ruxpin) somewhere because I do remember coming across it in a move five or six years ago and it’s so funny to listen to both how cool I am trying to sound and how many angry references Josh made to Kula Shaker throughout the interview. I also remember that towards the end of the interview, I saw my mom’s minivan circling the restaurant and praying that she would not come in and blow my cover.

The interview ended and Josh’s buddy, who didn’t say much throughout the interview, asked me if I had been a writer for long or something like that. I told him, with the looming specter of my mom’s Dodge Caravan closing in, that I had always loved writing and that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up and I wanted to write about music and art and how great that sounded and gee, wasn’t writing the bee’s knees! He kind of mumbled something about that being cool and said he was a writer. So it took me a few years to finally figure out that guy was Zac Crain. So now when I see Zac, I always think about staring at empty orange juice carafes nervously and hoping that my mom doesn’t come in and tell everyone that I’m not old enough to drive yet.

Later that day, I went into Bills to buy Meat Is Murder as I was instructed to do by my leader. I went to The Smiths vinyl section and found a water damaged copy of Meat is Murder, figuring that would be the cheapest one in light of the no-price-tags policy at Bills. But “How Soon Is Now?” wasn’t listed. Shit. Did I forget the name of the song? Did I forget the name of the album? Is there another The Smiths? How could I have messed this up already? I got the sweaty palmed, staring-at-an-empty-carafe feeling all over again. Then Mark Crowder came over. I knew who Mark Crowder was because he was the cool guy at Bills who liked Liverpool and Britpop and smoked cigarettes and wore trainers. Mark Crowder did not know who I was because I was one of the many kids who came in, bought whatever import single he proclaimed was cool from the top of the stairs while he was on the phone then I would shuffle out like a teenaged Britpop-loving Gollum. Crowder asked me if I needed help finding anything. I am amazed that my mouth retained the ability to form words. I meekly said, “Ummm, I was looking for this song….that I thought was called….ummm…well….I know it goes…..”I am human and I nee…..” At which point Crowder rolled his eyes, pulled the copy of Meat is Murder that I had just been looking at out of a box and tossed it to me, saying with extreme exasperation, “It’s an unlisted track on Meat is Murder. Pfffft!” And then he turned around and walked away.

I scurried to the counter to pay $30 for a water damaged, torn and partially scratched copy of Meat is Murder and then hurried out before my uncoolness started seeping into the upstairs dance records area and caused the turntables to rust. The good news is that Mark Crowder has been a dear friend of mine for years now. He lives in San Francisco but when he comes to town, I like to tell him that story. He apologizes every time. I think it’s funny.

And that is why I am excited to see Morrissey on Friday night.


Anonymous said...

every male I have ever met, other than myself who likes the boss has been a douche. it often makes me fear i might also be a douche and not realize it, then i think of my love of morrissey and realize i can't be a douche. maybe the truth is that i have a vagina and do not realize it...

Dave said...

Lovely Amanda. Just one thing... what recent stuff has been bad exactly? If anything the last three albums have been better than everything he's done since Bona Drag and Viva Hate. Just wait. He's still Moz and he's still awesome.