Monday, December 27, 2010
You Could Have Walked Away
Listening to this song again tonight... I hated "Strageways" when I first heard it at a young age. At the time it felt so much like a visit to the hospital to see a dying friend. One who'd made some relative progress in the past few weeks, so everyone was being especially supportive and smiley, but really, they knew it was just a matter of time. Or maybe not that dramatic, maybe it just didn't hit me in the same way as the other records.
Tonight I feel like this song is more honest and confessional than even "This Night Has Opened My Eyes", which clenched onto my being at age 14 in an un-nameable, despairing fog. Just as that song hit me so deeply with it's vague sense of loss and air of possible tragedy, this one is slapping me with it's naked fan-obsession and star worship. Anyone who experienced the pre-internet version of youthful idolization of rock stars might understand this like I do. There was a tangible barrier between the famous and the fans. Morrissey wasn't gonna tweet something clever, or even respond to the scrawled letter you sent into the fan club P.O. Box. Yet somehow, it felt pretty normal to silently, facelessly live for the idea of these bands and the experiences of their narrators. To give over your excitement completely, fanatically. It's hard to explain, and wasn't actually that cool. The vibe between people and their interactions felt so slow-moving and sequestered that having somebody else say "I've got the 21st century breathing down my neck" for you was enough to sign over your share to them as the voice of a generation.
This song addresses parts of what I'm getting at above and also the role of record labels in selling the feeling of complete fan-devotion to the dithering masses. Repackages, multiple issues of singles in different sleeves, etc. This marketing was also a huge part of things which seems harder to relate to now, especially as music and collecting it have shifted out of ownership and the prestige of fandom into a very casual universal library. For instance, here are a bunch of sick Smiths demos and instrumentals spanning their entire career. No amount of devotion required, no amount of excitement expected. In some ways the full-circle of the song comes about when the deception of selling idols to the fans is destroyed at the same time as the idol themselves.
at 12:49 AM