I was reading a post the other day where the writer mused, “I wonder what it’s like to hear The Smiths with ‘fresh’ ears.” (http://faff.wordpress.com/2006/10/09/existential-pop/) This is something I also have trouble with these days as I look back on my old CDs and try to objectively assess each one’s merit given the distance created by time, my changing tastes and modern music. The problem is, of course, that it is also difficult to divest oneself of the powerful associations of music, particularly where it links to our youth or a particularly special time of our lives. And yet, by coming at certain albums with the advantage of time and maturity, it is also possible to re-evaluate them in a way that we might have found impossible in our more impressionable days. Some, it’s true, reveal a paucity of depth that leaves us wondering what could have possibly possessed us to have ever bought them. Others, though, attain a new level of respect as we recognise subtle nuances in the lyrics and complex layers of musicianship. I doubt if, even then, however, we really regain the emotional awakening and personal revelation that some songs brought to us when we first heard them. I read a quote somewhere, – from the Sixties, I think – which captured the powerful connection we bring to music when we are younger: “Holding in your hands the latest Beatle’s or Stone’s album was like being a virgin on the brink.” And, as for The Smiths, well, I went out and bought a collection of their singles. Somehow I’d missed them and what a surprise and joy it was to find songs like “Please Let Me Get What I Want,” “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Big Mouth Strikes Again.” Couldn’t help but wonder what else I’d missed from that period when music took a backseat to other things that were happening in my life…But that, as they say, is another story.