Of Morrissey & Melancholy

Though his public statements have been questionable in recent years, Morrissey’s voice will always embody the best moments of angst ~ those times when sadness becomes a thing of beauty, when melancholy is a state of glorious madness, one that rivals the most joyful gladness. For most of my adolescence I managed to avoid much of Morrissey’s music, even his work with The Smiths. It wasn’t until his 1994 album ‘Vauxhall and I’ that I fell under his spell – and what a wonderful spell it was.

Somewhere in the winter of 1994 I looked into the dreamy blue eyes of that simple album cover as ‘Now My Heart is Full’ came over the stereo speakers. Familial betrayals, ruined romances, obsessive and unrequited love, self-doubt and crippling insecurity – this was the soundtrack to my stumbling existence. There was such a resigned sense of sorrow in some of his wails, but at the same time an unfailing hope for something better. ‘Hold Onto Your Friends’ was a self-recrimination of sorts, while acknowledging a loyal support system. ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’ was easily the theme for almost all of my doomed infatuations. My burgeoning gay self read much into ‘Billy Budd,’ and ‘Used To Be A Sweet Boy’ was ambivalently disturbing in owning up to some of the blame for everything I became.

Throughout the album, questions ~ of longing and heartache, want and desire, anger and resolution ~ surface and subside. For a Freshman finishing up his first year at college, it was a defining musical companion. To this day, whenever I hear Morrissey I remember those tender days, when the whole world hinged on a sad song.

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