How and why the Smiths can assist your midlife blues (the facts of life that will eat you alive, spit you out and smoke you).

Written by Ryan Walker


We are human. It’s who we are, don’t be in denial of those key features that make your vanity spike when confronting the mirror after a heavy night of heartbreak and ale. The one you want, but can’t have, whilst sitting on a hillside desolate as there’s panic on the streets of Leeds, posts a fresh picture of their newfound plaything on some social media private porn site and a part of you is torn open like a knife stabbing mercilessly into your chest. The Smiths cure this, they embrace the loneliness, use it, abuse it, smash it to pieces, smudge the make-up and in their tender hands tug on all we wish was right beside us, breathing as boredom transforms us into monstrous products of our own torturing.

Steeped in a pitiful, pathetic stench of depression, we listen to Morrissey’s words, be consume them, a true gospel amongst total fabrication in times of lies, deceit and deception that causes us to climb the walls and leaves us little choice but to cry until our pillow is fucking soaked in confusion and chaos. We long for love, we will never find it. Enter Morrissey, celibate, asexual, smart, sensitive, sharp, vegetarian, a sex symbol who sings songs of such poetic darkness that it bounces off the barriers of this aching reality and uses them as tools to make the most magical spells of music. The band themselves, Johnny Marr, guitars of such rolling beauty, a songwriter at an undefeated peak who puts such a strong and sincere veil over the words of Morrissey, it almost hurts to listen to such beauty leak from the speakers when the nights embody some cinematic trap of unforgiving melancholy. Rourke on bass, bombast, fast, funky, a true bounce and buoyancy adding extra flair to an already elastic track stretching it to new dimensions of anthem alarming quality. Joyce, the drums, the dynamic muscle tugging and teasing the songs into utter bombardments of rock and roll power or ballads of teenage anxiety that warp our worlds into new colours of unstable emotional journeys.

I sit here, and feel like smashing the room to pieces, there’s nothing to do, nobody to talk to, the cars pass outside my window in a slow motion cinema, silence, boredom, numb. I stare at the wall, the ceiling, the door, the window, and see a world torn apart at the seams. Ex-loves find new hands to hold, old friends cut themselves on cheap drugs and piss-poor drinks that pollute their insides. I hear of people getting married, starting new lives upon the rotten foundations of old lives and replacing those days with new smiles, crystal eyes and calm balances: and it fucks me off (yes, bitter and yes, miserable). I propose no new solutions to these maddening bits and pieces of machinery that ticks along in a culture hooked on soul mates sadly saying goodbye at the airport gates, I am not a machine, but a human, just like you, who needs to be loved. However, what I do offer, is the Smiths. Listen to them, avoid the miserable stigmatisation associated with old Morrissey, he’s just like you, lost and alone, freakish and unique, but comes with a genuine, real and brutally honest charm that shreds this damn world to pieces with one marvellous sentence. Listen to Asleep, listen to Suffer Little Children, listen to Ask, listen to Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, I Want the One I Can’t Have and be hypnotized by the extraordinary presence of something that is far from this world. They captured a moment in time they invented and then destroyed, a mythology only few witnessed and only few understand yet remains a timeless, fearless, fabulous force of mind-blowing magnetism that strokes as much as suffocates us, the hands that shake the shoulders are the ones that also the ones that slap us in the face.

I would urge anybody who only has the birds to talk to as they chirp some unknown ballad of Sunday morning suffocation to listen to a Smiths song. They are a universal conversation catalyst amongst music fans and lonely teenage adolescents that can’t quiet force their face to fit amongst the shadows. Delve and dive into their suburban sociocultural philosophy that can brand a heavy hand of hope(lessness) onto your young hearts and breathe new life upon the decomposing carcass of your drunken, red-raging dreams. I dare you to listen to the moment Ask introduces its seagull soaring, psychedelic burst of seaside stained euphoria (the bridge) and not shed a tear. Or the outro of Some Girls………where we are forced to send the pillows we dream of to each other in an act of simply opening up the doors and saying, ‘come on in, stay the night’. I challenge you to listen to I Know It’s Over or The Boy with A Thorn in His Side and not completely abandon all you knew about the world running from 9-5, to not burn your old clothes, to not say fuck you once in a while to people who make a living and get their kicks from being ‘nice’ (synonym: nuisance). From the drive and desire, the pull and the power, the potential to be outside the circle that contracts and traps you with the friction of a thousand sharp edges until you are a pile of dust in a city afraid to sleep will tighten, the Smiths build springboards out of this entanglement of barbs and wires. The Queen will always be dead, and meat will always be murder, but here we come, the lads, the ladies, the lonely, brave for facing another new day knowing the only voice to call our name is………well nobody. If someone fucks you over, turn to this band, their everlasting legacy is nothing to turn a blind eye to in times of turmoil and terminal depression that crushes your head/heart in a rusty vice. If someone breaks your heart to the point no amount of bandages can wrap itself around the thing without some real life bleeding through to the other side: listen to this band. They provide great amounts of control and comfort beyond any pharmaceutical lie shoved down your throat, trumping any barbiturate, narcotic and prescribed slice of something else that is ushered into your trembling hands. Individuals are isolated souls, lost, alone to roam the roads where home is a place burned down decades ago in the memories crumbling under vulnerability. Are you yourself, or a clone? Do you desire love, and despise life? Do you seek peace, when the morning comes, and you can’t help but raise questions that contemplate the value of footsteps beyond the front door? Listen to The Smiths, a religion for some, worshipped in a world more corrupt than the sugar contents in a fat-free yogurt. More corrosive than a double dose of delirium spinning your eyes wild and bright, sirens singing and the sky blackened by the bruises imbued upon your soft skin. Pay attention

I remember one of the first ‘dates’ (I know, sorry world) I had when I got to Leeds, and within half an hour of sinking a nervous pint we were talking about the Smiths. The topic of who we would rather go out with, be it chatting, drinking, the works; would it be Morrissey or Johnny Marr. It’s always a fun way to slip inside the adrenaline dripping energies and excitements of another by raising this subject matter. As of late, having moved into my new house in Leeds, I went upstairs the other day to check on my housemate, he has a Queen Is Dead poster upon his bedroom wall, a Smiths screensaver and I was wearing the t-shirt. These are the types of things that settle the stomach and catch the butterflies in their endless swirls and swerves of cosmic worriment. The songs they wrote bettered any other band, the cleverness of the lyricism, the delicate but also dangerous and dynamic precision of the music that made it instantly catchy, loveable and lush, sound tracking the lovelorn torments of some struggling youth that can’t help but question everything and think about everything too much, all of the time.

In times that bleed your dreams dry, political corruption, cultural change that shifts too many gears in too short a space of time, we depend on the external, invisible, spiritual, personal momentums that offer us contentment, warmth and understandable repose in the most clouded clutters of a fucked up life. Burdensome responsibilities left in a bag at Heathrow whilst the Mancunian oddballs sing me songs of liberation. Board a train to London from Leeds whilst waiting for the shoplifters to unite, to take over, the hand it over. Return home from the pub to face despair, darkness and self-destruction as Back to The Old House is sung in a gentle lullaby into my ears that somehow settles the stomach, sick to the teeth with this wicked existence forcing new words into my mouth and punching horrible memories (faces, tastes and places) into the surface of my skull. Embody the skinny white boy you really are and burn the cardboard cut-outs that block such a way of self-esteem and acceptance. I have encountered countless amounts of people lost in the crowd, clumsily plodding along the tightrope where life threatens to watch them fall, gawping beyond a pair of binoculars and a massive, fuck off bucket of salty popcorn; clueless, condemned, the sun is convicted, and the sky is sunless. Be eccentric, erudite, the smiths provide a wide range of scenarios that you can almost perfectly place yourself and still manage to make a smile, eyeing up the eyes of another, hoping your prayers are momentarily answered in a fit of brief velocity where instinct is freed from the cages of societal constraint, a stifling suppression that moulds you into normality. We all have that one band we admire, we adore to the deepest chambers of our hearts where the voice hums in a low baritone and the sky is always too far out of reach for us to shoot up our stars; framing the fallen heroes, following The One to the edges of existence running the blade along the desktop hoping the light stays strong enough to survive another b-side. For me, and for many, it is the Smiths. They provide sanctity, safety, an escape, a way out, a combatant to the drab monotonies that add extra hours onto already long queues each time we leave the world we built, we burn, and we bury.

The Smiths are educational; the Smiths were the bridge from then until now. They sing directly to you, they look into your soul, and say, ‘it’s ok, hold my hand, its only darkness’. Those key, quintessentially English quips, side-splitting, imaginative, innovative, subjective to you because, you are the only one that matters. Singing songs that saved our lives, chained to the kitchen sink in a whirlpool of duotone rainbows and remarkable charm that can freeze the heart or warm the blood. How the hell are you supposed to both experience and endure this spasms and seizures without a little post-punk music? You feel the heated connection of the one you want fucking another, sharing cigarettes and riding riverboats in the evening. You imagine them holding hands, of birthdays blowing candles and of wedding days where the bell rings but really, the bomb just explodes to louder volumes of thunderous propulsion. Love it, hate it, hold and let go; what is now seen as worthless, will one day mean everything. The band managed to outpour 70 songs during their four primary albums, and having never reached the success of those other musical partnerships be it Lennon/Macca or Jagger/Richards; the spellbinding alliance of Morrissey/Marr, is a dyad of paramount timelessness that deserves a space on the shelf. The story goes that Morrissey knocked on Johnny Marr’s door and then the magic happened, instant impact, automatic accomplishment in a constant exchanging of cassettes, sitting on the edge of bed turning out these semi-folk, semi-indie, semi-rock n roll jewels of tunes. Maybe that’s what we’re all looking for, the right person to come and knock on the fucking door.

I don’t trust anybody who doesn’t like the Smiths; but I don’t trust anybody anyway, and neither should you. x

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