I can’t put this one off any longer.
I really was very late to succumb to the charms of The Smiths.
In fact, I only just caught them before their little bubble burst and *pooft* they were gone.
The first record by The Smiths that I bought was 1987’s Sheila Take a Bow, and it was probably the most important record I ever bought in my life.
For it was only then that I nailed my colours to the mast. I thought I loved the Quo – and I did love them, I really did, and still do (to a point) – but The Smiths were the first band who I loved that I felt actually meant something.
I mentioned in a post earlier this week, that it was my (now) 50 year old buddy Richard, who I met at sixth form, who opened my eyes to The Smiths, when he played me There is a Light That Never Goes Out in his bedroom one day. The next day, I went out and bought The World Won’t Listen, and my world changed.
It was one of those moments when you look back at a band’s previous singles and wonder how on earth you had managed to so grossly misjudge them.
Of course, How Soon Is Now? is a masterpiece! How did I not notice how wonderful William, It Was Really Nothing was at the time? How had I heard Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and not seen past the gladioli and faux misery to embrace the gloriously juxtapositioned upbeat guitar work and the fact that here was a band singing to me and about me?
The epiphany could have come slightly earlier, I suppose, when my cousin played me Panic, video recorded off Top of the Pops. I chose to ignore her.
In the late 1980s, I did something I’d never done before and never did again: I bought a record advertised in the ads at the back of the NME. Wrote a cheque and posted it off to some anonymous PO Box.
Sure, it was a US import version rather than the UK original on the Rough Trade label, but by then it was a record I simply had to own.
The Smiths – This Charming Man
And the reason I paid (quite a lot) for that US import was because back then, in the late 1980s, before the advent of the internet where I could have just downloaded them, before all the reissuing, repackaging, repackaging (not a typo, a reference; you’ll get it, I think) had happened, this was the only way to own these two magnificent songs, which were not on any album at the time:
The Smiths – Jeane
The Smiths – Wonderful Woman
NB: My mother’s name is Jean. Put these two song titles together, knock off an ‘e’ (not a clubbing reference on this occasion) and although at the time I was a rebellious, obnoxious twat of a teenager, that’s her described.
Happy Father’s Day, Mum. (You won’t like any of these songs.)