I grew up on English music, but I didn’t know English. Now that I do, I’m happy to rediscover the bands of my teens. I was a bit worried at first: what if the songs I liked were meaningless or badly written? Most of the music I loved didn’t fail, among them are one of my favourites - the Smiths.
In the pre-computer and pre-internet era of my life, I was only able to translate the title, because I occasionally peeped into dictionaries. But what was between the title and a few words I understood was a mystery. And when listening to the music I was filling the emptiness with my own words in Russian. Such a mix!
When walking among graves and listening to “Cemetry Gates” I was making some stupid goth song out of it. I suspected irony due to the contrast between the melody and the title, but still, my pre-English brain missed all of Morrissey’s mordant humour. When I listen to some of their songs now, I laugh out loud.
Although I failed at humour, I was capable of feeling the brooding mood, elusive ghostly love, ambiguous sexuality, and nostalgia about something which never happened. The Smiths told a story of my life before I was even born. It is such a pleasure to listen and understand the lyrics now. I moved to the city long and I had so many events occur in my life since then, but even now I can still deeply relate to this melancholic music. And when Morrissey asks "And if you're so clever, then why are you on your own tonight?”, I feel he asks me personally.
The Smiths' music is laced with loneliness and non-existent love, but it gives the sense that you’re not abandoned in your desolation. It gives a sense of shared human experience. It is a remedy which turns despair into beautiful solitude with a light touch of self-irony.
And as pathetic as it may sound, I still want to say to the world:
"But I know that you would like me
If only you could see me
If only you could meet me”.