It now seems that every week brings along a new anniversary to make me feel old.
The latest reminder of the fleetingness of time came a few days ago with the news that it is now 25 years – that's a quarter of a century for those of you who failed your Maths Standard Grade – since the release of Strangeways Here We Come, the posthumous album from the band I once loved more than any other.
If anything I should have been slightly too old for the Smiths. When they first appeared in 1983 I was near the end of my teens, my acne was fading and I even had a girlfriend (hard as that is to believe).
But I still fell hard for them; for the mouthy arrogance of their self-belief, Morrissey's magpie eye for a good quote to steal and the soft boy vulnerability of lyrics far removed from the phallocentric cockiness of most guitar rock. And I loved them for the music. For the ache and pull of Marr's guitar lines and how they dovetailed so perfectly with the words.
The band had split before Strangeways Here I Come was released in 1987. Another nail in the coffin of an awful year. Margaret Thatcher had just been re-elected for a third time. There was a sense of bitter defeatism swamping those of us who hated her. We were left singing songs about waiting for her to die (Morrissey and Elvis Costello both provided the choruses that year). And so for all its wit and lightness that album felt drenched in a sense of operatic grief. Grief for where we were and for the band we had just lost.
Today I listened to Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, a gorgeous, swooning hymn of self-pity, and remembered how I used to play that song every day for weeks after the album came out. It still feels like time well spent.
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