Mister Buckets and Steven Patrick Morrissey: a History
If anyone finds out that you are a music fan they always pose the question, “What’s your favorite band?” Not only is that question annoying, it is also difficult to pin down. At least for myself, I never think about my #1, if there is one. I merely go day to day listening to whatever I am in the mood for or, better yet, listen to artists others have suggested to me. It is a wide, wild(e) world of music out there and anyone who thinks they know it all knows exactly the opposite. A close-minded music fan is the antithesis of an actual fan. It all goes back to what my father told me growing up: “If you are a true fan of music you appreciate everything.”
How does this correspond with Morrissey? Well, it is his birthday today (happy 53d!) and while walking today it got me thinking, “Hell…I think Morrissey IS my #1…” Maybe it is the history or maybe it is just that I find little wrong in his musical career; Spanning 20+ years now, that is a feat in and of itself. (There are few artists in this pool of never selling out, some being Motorhead, Slayer, and, dare I say (though I am not a fan) Radiohead.) I got to thinking about the simple history of myself and the Moz and memories flooded my walk up to my thighs.
I started listening to the Smiths when I was 14 (1992) when, upon suggestion from a friend, I picked up Best of…Vol.1. At first I
didn’t get it. At the time I listened to punk and death metal…how was this shit going to relate? It wasn’t until about a week later that I sat down with the CD and read the lyrics. “This shit is smart…,” I thought, and then let the overall mood wash over me. The easiest way to explain it is that his morose lyrics, somber mood, and the inevitable feeling of alienation spoke to me perfectly, especially at that young, ripe age. I grew up in a small, southern Indiana town of about 16,000 people. Tons of jocks and rednecks, little to none of actual creative people (but those that were there colored my world in splendor that I still look back on and smile…they’ve gone on to be glorious people and I am still happy to know them). I was alone at school, home, and seemingly everywhere I went. The Smiths were my soundtrack and I am not ashamed to say that, while driving, I would sometimes cry at songs like “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “Tomorrow“.
There was one record store in the town, called Sound Shop. It was there that I had purchased many albums and it was there, my senior year in 1996, that I waited outside so as to be first in line to purchase Morrissey’s new album, Southpaw Grammar. There was no one else waiting. Duh. I had built up a rapport with the dude there after purchasing Bona Drag and Kill Uncle because, obviously, no one else was buying these kind of albums. He was a heavier set gay man and I always felt bad for him, living in this shit hole. He had a copy of Southpaw Grammar held for me behind the counter and I thanked him dearly for it. I remember him saying, “This one is really rockin’…a lot like Your Arsenal for the Nirvana crowd.” It was not disappointing.
I got out of that town quick and moved to a commune. Yes, a commune. (Though I like to refer to it as a cult, take it as you will.) I earned $5 a week, but food and water and clothing were provided. Morrissey’s latest record, Maladjusted, had been released and I had squandered my money together to buy it. Then I found out that he was touring and would be stopping by Chicago for two nights, both at venues that were walking distance from where I lived. Christmas was approaching and, if I remember right, the concert was in March. I contacted my parents and told them that the only thing I wanted was a Morrissey ticket. They came through.
It was at the Aragonthe first night and I was beaming from my pores that I had a ticket. A friend and I waited outside for hours
seeing as it was general admission and we definitely wanted to be in front. Time passed and we got in, front and center. Opening bands bored us and then we stood there, waiting for the Moz. He came out and put on a glorious event peppered with Smiths songs and a cannon that many should salivate over. As is wont at a Morrissey concert, loads of flowers were thrown upon the stage. He readily scooped them up and handed them to ardent fans, me being one of the last. Yes, Morrissey gave me flowers. It was truly one of the highlights of my fucked up life.
The next day the friend and I had just enjoyed a bowl of Pho when we were walking back to the commune. A gentleman approached us. “Do you have to pay for parking on Sundays here?”
“Yeah, I think so. Where are you from?”
“St. Louis. I am just here to see the Morrissey concert tonight at the Riviera.”
“Oh, wow! We saw him last night at the Aragon. It was amazing.”
“I have an extra ticket if you’re interested.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“No charge. I just don’t want it to go to waste.”
We looked at each other and my friend said, “You take it.” I did.
We waited out front for little bit and then finally made our way in. “Holy shit,” I thought, “Two nights in a row!”
Again, waiting through the opening bands and then the man himself appeared again. I was in awe. Unfortunately that night he went through 1.5 songs and then left the stage. Rumor has it there was a person holding a sign that pertained to the Morrissey vs. Mike Joyce lawsuit (the old Smiths drummer was suing for unpaid royalties) siding with the former drummer. Whatever…it was shitty for those who hadn’t seen him the night before but I was satiated.
Now there was the dude who gave me the ticket. He was starting to get very touchy and I think he wanted some sexual favors in exchange for the ticket. Luckily in the mass exodus I lost him in the crowd. Whew.
As the years went on my love for Morrissey and his music simply grew. I have since branched out to other genres, including soul and country, but there is one mainstay…my, I guess, #1. Steven Patrick Morrissey.
Happy Birthday, you huggable, well-read, and stubborn master of anti-pop. May your British tongue taint generations to come and your eyebrows shade us fans from unwanted attention.
Obviously no downlaods (buy it, cretins) but here are links to amazing concerts and videos.
Suedehead. (Filmed in Fairmount, Indiana. It is the birthplace of James Dean and he is buried there. I took a trip once simply to see the grave and all the Morrissey graffiti…yeah, I’m that guy.)
You came this far! Fuck it…here is a download of his live album from 1993, Beethoven Was Deaf. It is a masterpiece.