Friday, 25 February 2011

Songs of Definition pt.1

The Smiths - 'Accept Yourself'
Imagine yourself as a lanky, acne-ridden, fourteen year old. Physically you are a gargantuan target for ridicule. Luckily, you are a step above the true victims of high school life, the outcasts who spend every minute of the school day regretting their existence. Imagine you are a lanky, acne-ridden fourteen year old who has managed to avoid the pit of constant bullying. Sure, the bigger, cooler kids pick on you every now and again for being a 'boffin' or for being a bit 'weird' but you're by no means a suicide case. Imagine you're favourite subjects are History and in particular, English Literature. Imagine you love football, movies and music.
You are imagining me.
I felt out of place, as though I would never fit into the mould my friends, my parents and my teachers insisted on putting me in. "You can make something of yourself. You're a bright lad." I had neither the incentive nor the inclination to 'make something of myself'. I felt as though my close knit group of family and friends were forcing me into a corner. I often felt alone in a room of people I called my closest. It's a very adolescent sensation, to feel so very different to your peers but most teenagers go through it and I was no different. The torment I experienced daily, inside my own skull was greater than any external worry I could ever have had about what girls fancied me or the size of my dick or whether I could pop a boner on demand. Feeling like some kind of outsider, while enjoying the luxuries of a large group of people who loved me was a very strange experience. Guilt and disappointment.
By this time, as with most kids my age I was very familiar with a band called The Smiths, led by Johnny Marr's driving guitar and Morrissey's witty lyrics. I claimed songs like 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' and 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want' were personal anthems but even then when I was at my most moping, at my most angsty and forlorn I felt that it was all a bit much, as though all of this emotion was a bit silly.
With my devotion to The Smiths at an all-time high I pooled some money together and bought 'Hatful of Hollow', a collection of B-Sides and John Peel sessions. On this was a song called 'Accept Yourself' in which Morrissey's wordplay was at it's most succinct. Playfully joking with lines that actually resonated with me. As was the way with Mozza, he made the most imploring messages seem commonplace with his everyman turn of phrase and irreverent humour. I won't patronise you by going into a full analysis of each line, explaining why they appealed to me so much at this juncture in my maturing brain but it was finally a song that rather than reinforcing any negatives in your situation or merely pretending everything was going to turn out alright, it was a song that jauntily suggested just accepting that you are going to look, behave and think the way you are doing BECAUSE you are you. Nothing else. You are who you are and rather than trying to struggle against the current or, indeed, submit, just enjoy the fact that you are a human being, much like any other human being with your talents, fancies, insecurities and issues. It reminded me that, Jesus, we're all a bit fucked up, we're all under duress but you needn't worry about yourself because that's the least of your worries.

By J. F. Rudge.
Twitter: @Johnny_Rudge

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