I remember 'Strangeways' coming out. I was a freshman in college, and for the first part of the year I had a single dorm room. I was getting ready for classes that morning and listening to our college radio station. The DJs, Rondell and Darrell, talked about the new album by The Smiths for a little bit. And then they played 'Girlfriend In a Coma'. It was so absurd and I'd never heard anything like it before. I fell in love.
I grew up in a planned suburb between Baltimore and DC. Most kids I knew were either listening to top 40 or hard rock. Me and my friends were mostly in the latter camp. We had MTV, and I had sort of tried to branch out musically. I loved The Clash and The Go-Gos. I had the Modern English album. When I bought Romeo Void's 'Never Say Never' ep and excitedly played it for my friend Karen, we got maybe a minute into the song before she informed me that it sucked. I put on a Led Zeppelin album instead. I tried very hard to find someone to go with me to the U2 'Unforgettable Fire' tour. My boyfriend finally relented, and he talked a friend of his- who listened to country music- into going too. The concert was great, but it was hard to get into it when the guys I was with just stood there like they couldn't figure out what they were witnessing.
In that way, college and our campus radio station had been a revelation. Some of the music was familiar to me- songs I had heard in passing at parties or on movie soundtracks. It felt fantastic to immerse myself in these albums, and to do so with new friends who were just as geeked about the music as I was. The Smiths quickly became my favorite- no matter that they broke up before 'Strangeways, Here We Come' was released. They were amazing and their last album helped to push me into a whole new world of music.
I still love all of my Smiths albums. And I still buy everything Morrissey and Johnny Marr put out. I don't know if 'Strangeways' is my favorite. I usually go with 'Meat Is Murder'- 'How Soon Is Now' and 'What She Said' tend to give that album the edge with me. But I do love 'Strangeways', and it was the first cassette I bought by The Smiths (yes, cassette- all my college music was on cassette). When I was home for Thanksgiving break my freshman year I went shopping with Karen. I bought it while we were out and she seemed rather annoyed with my new music tastes. Honestly, I was secretly pleased. We didn't really stay in touch too much longer after that.
So, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, here's my favorite song from the album, 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'. Classic video to boot, with many Morrisseys on bikes.