Shakespeare's Sister has a post called "The Songs That Saved Your Life," which just gives me thrills. I can't claim to be the Smiths fan that she is, but I can relate and how. I love the Smiths! But what I love more is basking in the warmth of all the music we love. All the good memories, and some sad ones, the thrill of hearing a new favorite song for the first time, or the let-down of hearing a not-so-great album by a fave band, lazily playing DJ on a Friday night, the happiness when given a surprise mix tape, thinking you just cannot date this person who does not understand how damned fantastic the Police's first record was (hell yeah it was informed by punk but it was a whole new, entirely unique vernacular, gaaaaaaah), sitting in the car until a fave song finishes playing on the radio even though you have that record in the house on 4 different formats and can play it 100x over if you like -- I love it all.
But this started because of SS's insomniac post about the Smiths. I love Morrissey's voice, and it is sad but it's not depressing, as someone noted in the comments. It's playful and mockingly morbid and testy and defiant and hollowed out and all those things, but it always made sense to me. And if it is possible to wear out a CD track, I wore a permanent groove where the song "Everyday is Like Sunday" used to be. Perfection. How many times did I lie on the floor in a puddle listening to that? And I had to buy a second "Meat is Murder" cassette because I wore the first one out. Besides, I'm sorry, the Smiths were just damn cool. And growing up in the countrified South, you couldn't get any better than Moz and Johnny. Plus, I dug the album art.
I remember where I was when I bought "The Queen is Dead" (Georgetown, summer 1986). I remember the crinkly, noisy shrink-wrap on the cassette and that I couldn't get it off fast enough. I remember walking out of the store into the too-bright sunshine and not being able to focus for a minute on the shrink-wrap to remove it. I remember the smell of the ink on the liner notes. Sometimes I'll stop in my tracks because I smell that same smell, and it always reminds me of opening that cassette tape on the street in Georgetown on a perfectly sunny day and my friends laughing and me thinking, This, this is living!
Honest to God, songs did save my life. How do people survive teen years without music? I couldn't fathom it. Heck, forget teen years. I saw Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago and came home to write my friend an email. The subject line read: "Radiohead is the cure for cancer." I could not actually believe that my heart didn't burst. Surely, it couldn't be more full than that and still keep beating. I literally levitated when they played "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." No, really, I levitated. Before that moment I would have thought I was full of shit, too. It is a superior feeling. And I can't wait to feel it again.