Dearest Moz


“You Have Killed Me” by Morrissey:

Hi, Morrissey. You don’t know me, but I’m one of your biggest fans.

Until I heard the Smiths and your solo work, I was a total grungetta, blasting my Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I soon turned into the type of geeky fan I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about. I wrote the lyrics to Your Arsenal‘s “Tomorrow” on my white-soled Skechers (and listened to the song on a continuous loop for hours while studying for my freshman biology final) and rotated three Smiths T-shirts through my wardrobe for years.

I stood in line with dirty hippies from my high school at a grocery-store Ticketmaster outlet — they all wanted to see the Stones — so I could secure a seat at your Maladjusted tour stop in Cleveland. (You played for 55 minutes and stormed offstage when some moron made a crack about a lawsuit involving your ex-Smiths bandmate Mike Joyce. I couldn’t blame you, but I was crushed.)

I was a moody kid who would rather have died than, like, conformed (or attended a pep rally). As you said in “Unloveable,” I totally wore black on the outside — fishnets and this awesome Stevie Nicks lace dress, specifically — ’cause black is how I felt on the inside. I thought I was so deep, so misunderstood, but I was just a huge nerd. You understood, though. You knew what it was like to feel out of place in a boring suburb.

You bring people together. If I meet a Morrissey or Smiths fan, I know that we’re going to get along because we suffered countless unrequited crushes as teenage misfits or have had to endure our own melancholic personalities. Your fanbase has aged and shifted demographically, and you’ve turned from a gangly egghead into a debonair crooner (without losing your biting, self-deprecating wit), but you still inspire rabid loyalty. Few artists achieve career longevity now, but your die-hard fans continue to support your shows, even when you play new songs.

Last year’s Ringleader of the Tormentors is slick, bright and catchy, but I wasn’t as fond of it as I was of your 2004 comeback album, You Are the Quarry. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s hard to see you grow older (and grayer). There was some seriously unflattering YouTube footage floating around from festival appearances last year. The clips reminded me that you won’t be around forever. That makes me feel old.

But I don’t need to relive my teen years — I don’t particularly want to see you guys reunite. Like my adolescence, that band occurred in a specific moment in time, and it’s best left in the past, memories and awkwardness preserved but not perpetuated. (But keep playing those Smiths songs live. That’s totally cool.)

Judging from Internet chatter and video clips, this tour is one of your best. You’ve been opening with “The Queen Is Dead,” an appropriately theatrical gesture that will probably make me lose my shit. And I hear that your band can handle the glam crunch of “You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side” and the ornate balladry of “The Boy With the Thorn In His Side,” both set staples.

I won’t be front and center at your show. I’m too old for that. I’ll be in the back with my friends, wearing all black (of course) and singing along and dancing. I’ll let some other late-blooming girl stand at the barrier, hoping fervently that you’ll grasp her hand or acknowledge her existence — and I’ll smile knowingly at her excitement.


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