I was just a little too young for The Smiths when they were a going concern. I was aware of them being out there. I saw the record sleeves, the T-Shirts and the flat tops around town while I was still in short trousers but it went over my head at the time.
My gateway in to serious music fandom came at the other end of the thoughtful spectrum. I had Def Leppard and Aerosmith not Morrissey and Marr soundtracking my puberty. As has been much publicised since the death of the tribes in musical subculture. One did not simply cross the train tracks to Indie Town if they were firmly ensconced in the Cathedral of Rock. Not at that early teen obsessive age anyway.
Besides, when someone from a genre did leave the ghetto for something universally approved (say a Madness concert or a Blues Brothers Tribute) talk of other genres would run in shorthand clichés. Dance Music was more about the drugs than the music. Rap was shouting over other people’s records. Pop was plastic fake bullshit for little girls. Indie was for starving students (but there were some noisy cross over bands who rockers could approve of) and The Smiths (here it comes) they were (the biggest short hand cliché in the history of pop music) music to cut your wrists to.
If White Van Fans ever had a more wrong-headed and destructive sentence than those six words when describing music, then I would like to hear it. It stopped so many people ever even giving the band a chance at the time. It’s the musical community equivalent of a smear campaign on the innocent family at the edge of the village because no one knows ‘what they’re building in there’.
This shadow was chased away within days of getting to college. The Smiths and higher education will forever be intertwined. And that is perfect. The mind expanding, thoughtful, fun and ambitious elements of the bands oeuvre mix beautifully with the witty, contemplative, probing and emotionally diverse lyrics of a young Stephen Patrick Morrissey.
I’ve said it before on here when talking about The Smiths but I stand by the assertion that they were the most perfect Pop Group of the 20th century. It’s hard to add anything constructive to the Bodleian scale of writing that has been typed about them.
So just listen to Sheila Take A Bow. Listen to it and try to find an aspect of it that could be improved. Can you think of anything (don’t say more cowbell) that could make this song a better pop record that it already is?