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for October 8, 2002


There Is A Light That Never Goes Out...
by Stiffy Biceptz

Just about fifteen years ago, The Smiths released their final album, "Strangeways, Here We Come", after which they broke up for good. It shocks me to think how long ago fifteen years is, who I was then and who I am now, and all that has passed in between. This time of year always makes me miss and appreciate the Smiths.
 
Of all the important Alternative bands who came and went, the Smiths to this day have remained unspoiled, unknown, and unassimilated into American pop culture. The Cure had a brief spotlight, Depeche Mode had a stadium tour. Most under 40 / over 20's might admit to having heard of the Cure or Depeche Mode, or even having heard some of their music, but the Smiths...
 
Even Morrisey gained popular critical mass almost immediately after the demise of the Smiths with his "Viva Hate" solo release, but save for a cult following in East L.A., it was as if the Smiths had never existed in the US. It is likely they were just too poetic, too romantic, too English for an American music audience content with testicle driven metal bands and syrupy top 40.
 
For this I am forever grateful. With mass appeal and mass adulation comes over exposure and eventual disinterest.
 
The very first time I heard the Smiths was in September of 1986 at the Melody in New Brunswick. Being still an initiate into the Alternative music world, "Bigmouth Strikes Again" affected me like no song had ever done. It was so different, so mysterious, so beautiful, I was unable to think about anything but that song for a week. I went out and bought the 45, found that little adapter disk for my turntable and played it again and again. That song and that moment changed my life forever.
 
Over the next year or so I discovered the rest of the Smith's melodic, moody music, and was continually amazed and moved by just about everything they had created.
 
When the end came in September of '87, I hadn't had a chance to see them live. They had made a brief appearance in NYC that August, with New Order and Gene Love Jezebel, on a pier somewhere, but I had found out too late and couldn't make it.
 
By that time, I had discovered an immense volume of music from the Alternative world, and had other bands I could carry on with, although none were as special as the Smiths, my first Alternative love.
 
I'm very jealous about the Smiths. I love knowing no one I work with even knows who they are. I like knowing they will never be played on mainstream radio. I like to think when I play "The Queen is Dead" driving to work in the morning, that no one else in the world is listening to the Smiths. Well at least not in (most of) the U.S...
 
The Smiths will remain an unworn treat, evocative and wonderful. They are the quintessential Alternative band in my view, and more so as time passes, as they fade further into obscurity ... enjoyed anonymously, by us lucky few.
 

©2002 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.

 







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