HEY NOW. This is the first from a large backlog of recent broadcasts--prepare yourselves for an onslaught. It feels good to break the silence with an episode that gives me good feelings.
If you haven't been listening live, I might be so bold as to believe that you have missed me. I will assume [optimistically? IDK] that you have been listening, and haven't missed me. So, in this "verbal" portion of the post, I will try to provide value for money. What money, you ask? Exactly.
The Smiths are the reason why I do this, why any of this matters to me. It could have been a number of other artists, had circumstances been different, but they weren't, and it wasn't.
I am not and have never been Punk Rock. I grew up 3000 miles from CBGB and I was eight years old when The Sex Pistols said "fuck" on television. California-style "punk," as embodied by Black Flag and Dead Kennedys, was hilarious and energetic but ultimately just bad rock and roll, which, as Mark E. Smith has said, the music was never meant to be. That Music appeals to me as an abstraction and as an energy. It's essential that it happened. I might appreciate its actual manifestations more if it had happened during my crucial years, but ultimately I'm glad that it didn't.
Like any intelligent consumer of music, I had to leave the mainstream to be happy. So--if not punk per se, then what? Fortunately there was a really good station for me to listen to in my teens. I could hear Cabaret Voltaire, Cocteau Twins, R.E.M. [naturally], The Replacements, Husker Du, even Chris & Cosey, 23 Skidoo, Section 25, 400 Blows, Dub Syndicate, and so forth. I enjoyed all of these, but didn't identify for whatever reason.
Receiving Hatful of Hollow as a Christmas gift one year changed my life. Yes, I was black and straight, and the singer was white and gay, so it was an odd obsession. It went beyond the "finally someone is singing about my life" story that you hear from so many people, although that was important. The band had everything that mattered about punk, or was supposed to matter--the integrity, the intelligence, the refusal to play along--without sucking at the same time. I loved that they didn't make music videos [at least for a while]. I loved that they were in complete control of the record art. I loved that they didn't put garbage on the B-sides. It was as much about what they weren't as what they were, and most of the time they made exactly the right choice. It is silly to invest emotionally in a band--even this one, as it turns out. Young people have, for the most part, grasped this. But in the 80s, when it mattered who a person's favorite band was, The Smiths came along and convinced me that independent music was actually important.
Strangely, when I actually started doing shows at that station, I never found myself playing The Smiths on air. They didn't fit the "style" of the program I was doing. I was not one of those people, of whom there were many at the time, who believed that Smiths songs should never rub shoulders with other bands' music. Remember them? I actually lived with one such person for a year or two.
He affected a slight English accent. He was from Contra Costa County. He was funny and literate, which was why I liked him, but he was also the stereotypical "mopey, bedsit" type who gave Smiths fans a bad name. I never saw The Smiths' music as unmasculine or "miserablist," but I am pretty sure this person did and liked them on account of it.
The two of us shared a bedroom. He had posted a Wilde quotation above his bed. But--he had written out the quotation by hand, in cursive, and written "Oscar Wilde," also in cursive, and in big letters, underneath. One night we were having a party in our apartment. A girl and I had retreated to the bedroom--just talking, of course, NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED (didn't I tell you Morrissey was singing about my life?)--and my roommate walked in. The girl turns to him and says, with formidable coolness, "So Oscar Wilde wrote you a note?" The exposed, terrified look on his face--now THAT would be worthy of a Morrissey lyric, and it would be knowingly hilarious, as most of them are.
By the way, he and those like him are right--Smiths songs don't play nice with others. But such people are often insufferable nonetheless.
ANYWAY, this was a great show, even if it does establish me once and for all as "an 80s-90s guy," and even if the "B-sides" concept was a pretense to play that Smiths record, and even if the story about giving vegetarianism a try on account of Morrissey is more than a joke. You have to take me as I am.
BOMBAST playlist, 2013 December 10, 1900-2100:
"The Show Is Coming" | The Dub Syndicate | Night Train | Industrie Discografiche Lacerba "Into the White" | Pixies | Here Comes Your Man | 4AD "No Government in the Jungle (Bud Brothers Remix)" | Nicolette | No Government | Talkin' Loud "Song to the Siren" | This Mortal Coil | It'll End in Tears | 4AD "Spacelab" | Kraftwerk | The Man-Machine | Capitol "L.A." | The Fall | This Nation's Saving Grace | Beggars Banquet "Mirror" | Burial + Four Tet + Thom Yorke | Ego | Text "Getting Better" | The Wedding Present | George Best + 9 | Pearls from the Past "Looking from a Hilltop - Megamix" | Section 25 | Looking from a Hilltop | Factory "Hog's Jaw" | Thee Headcoats | My Dear Watson | Estrus "Empty Beach" | Pink Industry | Don't Let Go | Cathexis "Georgia Lee Brown" | The Cramps | Can Your Pussy Do the Dog? | New Rose "Nowhere Fast" / "Stretch Out and Wait" / "Shakespeare's Sister" / "Meat Is Murder" | The Smiths | Singles Box | Rhino | "Physical Evidence" "Argos" | Shitmat | The Lesser Spotted Burberry | Planet Mu "Rococo" | Cocteau Twins | Cocteau Twins Singles Collection | 4AD - Capitol "Hey Jagunath" | Suns of Arqa | Govinda Go | Arka Sound "Language (B)" | 23 Skidoo | Language | Illuminated "One Way Mirror" | A.R.Kane | Up Home! | Rough Trade "Si Firmi O Grido" | A Certain Ratio | Force | Factory "Kinky Love" | Pale Saints | Flesh Balloon | 4AD "Beat on the Brat" | Sonic Youth | Master=Dik | Blast First!