You know the drill. Blogs report rumors that The Smiths are reuniting. Blogs dismiss rumors that The Smiths are reuniting. All this gets passed around on Facebook. Debates ensue in comment sections. We’re all scratching our heads wondering if, in fact, Morrissey and Marr will cave like pretty much every other group of the post-punk era that doesn’t have a dead frontman (and some that do) and will hit the tour circuit again. Can they resist the urge to cash in on aging weirdos who were too young to catch the band during all of its 1980s misfit glory?
For a brief second, I’m flooded with images of possibilities. There’s me sweating it out in Empire Polo Field trying to catch a glimpse of Morrissey and Marr from half a mile away. There’s me dragging my boyfriend to the ends of the earth, at least Glastonbury, so we can get caught in rain and mud during “How Soon Is Now?” There’s me crawled up in the fetal position, holding a bouquet of gladioli and a copy of the Picture of Dorian Gray, sobbing as I listen to “Paint a Vulgar Picture” on repeat because I couldn’t get tickets. If The Smiths were to reunite, I’m certain that the latter scenario is the only plausible one. But, thankfully, the band is once again not reuniting, or so says NME.
A couple years ago, I covered a Smiths/Morrissey convention that happens annually in Los Angeles. I said then that, as much as I love the band, I don’t want them to reunite. I stand by that. At the time, I said I didn’t want a reunion because I didn’t want the chance to be disappointed. That is still true. I’ve seen great revivals (Pulp) and boring ones (Pixies) and I have a hard time imagining that a band that sounds like they don’t want to play together will be one of the great revivals.
Really, I’m scared that a Smiths reunion would leave out everyone who lived by their music during the most chaotic years of our lives.
I got into The Smiths when I was 11 or 12. They had already split by that time, but hearing them was a revelation because Morrissey sounded every bit as alienated and sarcastic as I was then, and continue to be now. None of my friends liked the band, in fact, these “friends” mocked me incessantly for my tastes. Regardless, I went to see Morrissey play on his first U.S. tour without The Smiths (at Pacific Amphitheater) the week before I graduated from middle school. (I think I wrote about this for Razorcake years ago, but I can’t find the issue.)
The lesson I learned at the first Morrissey concert I attended is that there was a real, obvious bond between us fans. I would see this time and again, whenever I made a new friend or acquaintance who was also really into Moz. But, that bond, was only partially because of the frontman. Mostly, we were all tied together by a myth surrounding a band that we never saw live, that we will probably never see live. If The Smiths were to reunite, it could be the greatest collective moment of our lives– the moment when our prays of “Please, please, please let me get what I want this time” were actually answered– or, we would walk away as “truly, truly disappointed” as Morrissey was at the end of Bona Drag.
To speculate, if The Smiths were to reunite, a Coachella date would be a given. After all, that’s where all dead bands go to play Lazarus. Now, even though I’ve said that I would only return to the festival if The Smiths reunite, I don’t actually want this to happen because it’s a terrible idea.
I’ve been to Coachella plenty of times. In fact, I saw Morrissey, solo, at Coachella numero uno. The last festival I attended was in 2010 and a lot has changed in those years. Where this event really did start out as a huge gathering of music nerds who wanted to party for a weekend, now it’s an event where the biggest bands on the planet provide the background music for cheeseball celebrities and the accompanying paparazzi, drunk girls in bikinis and drunker guys who think that muscle t-shirts are the height of summer fashion. It’s like flipping channels between TMZ and MTV Spring Break. Can you imagine The Smiths playing that? Can you imagine Smiths fans having to put up with it?
Ultimately, the myth surrounding The Smiths and the constant rumors that they will reunite are too great for it to happen without leaving the actual Smiths fans out in the cold. My fear of a reunion is that we’ll all be left at home, moaning along to Strangeways Here We Come as people with less interest in the band, but more money or connections, get to see the thing that so many have desperately wanted for years. I’d rather leave things be as they have been for the past quarter-century, with The Smiths as a brilliant memory on vinyl.