Thursday, April 09, 2009

This Charming Man

It's been said before, but in the 80's, it was possible for a band to be important. This importance expressed itself in several ways. They had shadowy, mopey, intellectual reputations. They were ideally British or from Athens, Georgia or possibly pretending to be from one of those places, complete with the kind of affected accent that one doesn't hear anymore. They were whispered to be involved with odd causes (ecology, communism, vegetarianism, riots, bisexuality, hair dyes). Their albums were hard to find. You couldn't just get them at the record store in the mall; you had to go down to the slightly sketchy record store with the purple walls, mauve salespeople and mannequin dressed in bondage pants. They were advertised primarily through painstakingly painted artwork on the backs of jean jackets and three ring binders. The discographies were uncertain, with EP's and singles appearing briefly, sometimes under multiple aliases.

Someone would slip you a mix tape, and the next day, you would wake up a Smiths fan. It was a badge of being a mopey, dreamy kid. The sad, lonely songs made you fill up with happiness inside. Some days, they still do. Pop Louder Than Bombs on the old iPod, and you're 17 again (if your're not already, sweet and misunderstood and pining for someone somewhere:

Ask me, I won't say no, how could I?
Spending long summer days indoors
Writing frightening verse
To a bucktooth girl in Luxemburg

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