Monday, December 11, 2017

Morrissey Cancels Philadelphia Concert Date

Four hours before the doors were set to open, we received the all too familiar news delivered by Bigmouth himself.  Morrissey had cancelled yet another show, this time in Philadelphia at the Fillmore due to a sickness in the touring party.  Although obvious and expected, it was still disappointing.  I was first introduced to The Smiths in 1986 by my high school English teacher, who is soon to be immortalized by Josh Radnor on the TV show “Rise” in March on NBC.  Appalled that I had not heard The Smiths, he made me a cassette copy of The Queen is Dead – the very next day.  Immediately, I fell in love. Our love was not traditional.  Morrissey and I were connected in life by a series of letdowns and disappointments.  His latest cancellation was just another one of those connections.  I have always wanted to see Morrissey play live and even now, over 30 years later, seeing him perform a show still eludes me.

High school in the 80’s was a John Hughes movie.  Outside-the-box personal expression was mocked or beaten out of you on a daily basis.   Thoughts of the non-mainstream variety were not meant to be heard, lest the establishment become leery of your motives.  Yet, here was this young man, dressed in a manner that suggested he had more books than friends, singing such horribly beautiful words for the world to hear. Had my teenage emotions suddenly morphed into an actual human being, my Weird Science creation would have been Steven Patrick Morrissey.  Heartache, stupidity, loathing, and contempt were wrapped in over-sized shirts and blue jeans with wilted flowers in his back pocket.   Morrissey encompassed everything young misfits championed as teens.

Cooped up in his room, a sickening wreck of a teenage boy contemplated all the usual dilemmas of a disassociated teen.  He never once wondered why he was different, rather why others weren’t like him.   Others were generally boorish and stupid and lacked intelligence and personality.  Love did not seem to be meant for him, so he dismissed it at an early age.  It’s not that he didn’t want companionship or affection – he craved it.  Yet, it eluded him like a shadow on a rainy day.  Lonely and afraid, he pondered whether he’d ever find true happiness. Life was simply taking and not giving.

Still, he did venture from his solitude.  Pilgrimages to record stores far and wide were enough to provide respite.  In Philadelphia, New York, and many other cities, he frantically scoured through crates for connections like a lost boy in a mine with a slowly dimming flashlight. Lyrical attachments filled the relationship void.  Feelings of rejection, loneliness, and isolation – Martin Gore, Robert Smith, and Morrissey seemed to know so much about these things.  He collected his feelings in the form of vinyl albums placed neatly in plastic sleeves and then arranged them in chronological order.  At night, he’d peer at them and wonder which one represented him the most.  Each ring with its spinning grooves would release a world he understood.  As if staring at these magical discs could transport him to a place where everything made sense for at least a few minutes at a time.  They were sanctuary pressed in vinyl and stamped with photos of interesting people he’d imagined he’d met.  He could not rest until he had collected them all.

If it was at all possible to be alone in a crowd of two thousand, the boy achieved it.  He navigated the hallways of his school donning sunglasses that functioned as blinders and wearing headphones with enough orange foam to drown out the stupidity that echoed off the tile floors.  The cassette tapes in his second-hand Walkman played Erasure, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and The Smiths. When the music wasn’t playing, he heard snickers about his clothing and his hair.  His thrift-store clothes were the dreadful combination of a depression-era bum and a 50’s TV housewife with hair by Aqua Net.  To pull the attention away from the conventional behavior he lacked in the eyes of society, he would wreak havoc throughout the day choosing infamy over righteousness and holiness.  With a biting wit and a sharp sense of humor, he would turn classrooms into circuses.  Lesson plans became mockery as he made outrageous statements and dared teachers to prove him wrong.  Classes became more about his chaos and less about learning.  When the bell would ring he would simply turn the tunes up and exit the destruction he created.  Some of his fondest memories were walks home from school.  Just a boy and his music.

He would talk about himself on the telephone for hours on end to avoid hearing others’ boring problems.  People seemed to like to talk to him.  So much so, his parents once changed their phone number without telling him, negating his need to stretch the cord of his rotary phone down the hallway and to his room, creating an obstacle course his father often lost on the way to the bathroom.  Instead, he sat alone in the confines of his room listening to lyrics and pretending to live them out.  Often inspired by his vinyl friends, he wrote poetry of his own.  He vowed to one day sing those poems to the world.  Some would hear his voice and wonder how someone so young could sing words so sad.  Others, like him, would hear these melancholy calls to arms and become his whimpering apostles.  The sun would set, the sun would rise, and the song would start over.

Morrissey once said nothing in life is worth repetition, yet it seems his career has become somewhat cyclical. After almost thirty five years of persistant moaning, it starts to sound as if the grooves have worn thin.  Still though, to this day, it appeals to me.

I am Morrissey’s lifelong disillusionment.

As a man who has worked more of his life than he has not, I have very little to show for it.  Many of my dreams have been muted for everyday existence. I keep ripping apart and rebuilding a life out of a LEGO set that is clearly missing pieces. It is becoming more and more apparent that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is starting to look like a nursing home.  And reminiscing about old music with an imaginary Martin and Steven is the best prospect I’ve had in quite some time. My discontent has been aging right along with Morrissey’s lyrics.  Yes, they seem old and contrite, but so does my life.  Morrissey is as relevant to me today as he was to young Fran, that wreck of a teenage boy from all those years ago.  Only the bedroom has changed.

The best you can hope for in life are memories.  A day with your kids, a laugh with good friends, or a concert you enjoyed.  That concert will not be Morrissey, at least not for now.  Thirty years of being a fan and I have never seen him in concert. It only seems fitting he should cancel.  The performance would have made me happy and there are no happy endings.  Not to Morrissey fans.  He wouldn’t have it any other way.

See you when the needle drops!


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