“…a virgin on the brink”

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.

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3 Comments

Filed under Music

3 responses to ““…a virgin on the brink”

  1. In college, my absolute favorite band was Heart. I had every album. I listened to them with almost obsessive furvor. And then, for almost 20 years I heard almost none of their music (largely because my albums were on vinyl). A couple of years ago I bought two of my favorites on CD and was excited to hear all that wonderful music again — only to find that it didn’t sound the same. Where were the the emotional power I remembered, the stunning turns of phrase, and the instrumental virtuosity that kept me listening to some of the songs overandoverandover? It was quite a letdown. Apparently, with life maturity has come a certain … shifting of musical taste and appreciation. But I’m sorry to have lost some of the ability to feel what I felt then.

  2. Perhaps that is the problem, Tiffany – we think we are remembering the music when we are actually remembering a time of our lives, one where our senses were open and our emotions sensitive to the world like they would never be again.

  3. hello!
    am so pleased you are ‘enjoying’ The Smiths. i often wonder about the relationship between johnny marr’s music and morrissey’s voice… what is the nature of the interdependency between these two elements?
    i wish one of those kids on idol would sing a smiths song….

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