Shelia take a bow

Last updated 14:15 14/12/2012

Sait Moz

One day back in 1988 or there abouts I skipped school in favour of endless hours of daytime telly and prancing about in my PJ's singing Duran Duran into a hairbrush. So much, so Ferris Bueller.  But little did I know the decision to skive would change my life forever.

It was all down to TV One which, in those days, was a hotbead of indie music-adoring whimsy. I will always thank them for slotting that random episode of UK youth music show The Tube in between Days of Our Lives and Santa Barbara because, amid the inane bumblings of Jools Holland and whoever else was high enough to co-host that 80s nightmare, I fell in love with a band.

There was a short guy with flippy dark hair and silly dark glasses playing a Les Paul almost as big as he was on my TV. 'Huh,' I thought to myself. Next to him was a tall, lanky chap with a boss jaw and hair of a height I had not until then known hair could attain. 'Huh, huh,' I thought, and blinked at the screen.

As he of the mighty hair flounced his way, hips first, across the stage, warbling like someone had him by the throat about a girl called Sheila, I was ensourcelled. I'd just turned into the kind of teenager who loves The Smiths.

Later I would discover that being the kind of teenager who loves the Smiths is actually a life long lifestyle choice. At least 60 per cent of my current friendship circle are still people I met through mutual adoration for the Mancunian band.

"I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside," Morrissey, the band's lead singer and iconic mastermind crooned on Unlovable, and it became my personal anthem.
I met my best friend a week or so before Saint Moz played his first solo show in New Zealand in 1990 because she was wearing a Smiths T-shirt outside Eng101 and another best mate accosted her, demanding to know her intentions re. stalking Morrissey until he agreed to be our life mentor forever and ever. (We did stalk him all the way to the lobby of the Hotel Intercontinental, where we waited for hours and hours, though he never appeared.)

Fans of the guy jokingly call him Saint Moz, but really the passion with which I took up the Smiths fan mantle is a testament to the kind of lyrics he wrote back then - mostly songs about not fitting in, not wanting to fit in and feeling incredibly sorry for yourself that you didn't fit in.
He was a teenage Messiah and a kind of charming pied piper, leading timid suburban youth off into the wilderness of indie and alternative music, never to be found listening to the top 40 again.

"You shut your mouth," he sang on 1985 single, How Soon Is Now, "How can you say, I go about things the wrong way?  I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does." And he won my heart forever. 

Suddenly here was a champion who could express all the hormone tangled, backed up emotions of youth I had absolutely no tools for dealing with. Here was the Prince Charming monstrous me had been waiting for.

Sadly, Moz's mistique is somewhat tarnished these days. Between accusations of racism and his penchant for being mean to fat people and the Norwegians for eating all his woodland friends - he is a fierce advocate for vegetarianism - I find myself wishing he'd just shut up and play some songs.

But there will always be a place in my heart for the wounded outcast role he still owns, although his recent songs have been more about acceptance, defiance - he was always pretty good at that - and finally getting to kiss the boy instead of just pine for him.

Morrissey is playing in Wellington tonight and I can't wait to commune with him again; to celebrate the awkward yet Morrissey-assured-me charming teen I once was; to reminisce about being so naive and hopeful, as much as to celebrate how far I've come.

"Well, I think when I was a child, more than anything else I wanted not to be ordinary," he said in a 2004 interview with the NME. 
"And I wanted to be considered to be a bit peculiar. When I was at school I wanted to be peculiar and I was delighted when I was at secondary school and I was actually thought to be peculiar (laughs). It was fantastically good for me because I looked around me and I thought, 'Well, however you are I don't want to be like you, so if you think I'm unbalanced then I'm delighted.' That really stayed with me."

Thanks for making that a valid life choice, Moz.

* Morrissey plays Wellington Town Hall tonight and Auckland tomorrow night.

- Kapi-Mana News


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