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Songs that save your life: A Morrissey fan examines her devotion to the Pope of Mope

Austin Photo Set: News_Monique Lavie_Morissey_Nov 2011
"Morrissey reminds us to never forget the songs that made us smile, the songs that made us cry, and the songs that have saved our lives."
Austin Photo Set: News_Monique Lavie_Morissey_Nov 2011_live
Courtesy of Stanford.edu

During my college years, I didn’t get Greek life. I hung out at bars I was too young to be in with thirty-somethings and art school dropouts. We bonded over our love for music from England, particularly The Smiths. We danced, we drank, we smoked to the “Pope of Mope,” and it made me happy.

Yet, only now am I starting to understand the impact Morrissey has had on me. His music brings me back to the best years of my life. 

The night that I lost my virginity, I happened to be wearing my favorite T-shirt: a bare-chested Morrissey on the Feb. 13, 1988 cover of NME Magazine. When my New York City apartment building caught on fire, I ran out with several of my most valuable possessions. That T-shirt happened to be one of them.

The first time I saw Morrissey live was at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I was barely 20 years old, and it was life changing. The electricity that filled that room was unforgettable. Rowdy skinheads were chanting Morrissey’s name as if they were at a West Ham United football match. From that day on, I vowed to follow Morrissey as much as time and money would allow.

 The first time I saw Morrissey live was at the Royal Albert Hall in London. . . From that day on, I vowed to follow Morrissey as much as time and money would allow

I once took a brief trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. During my visit, I found Varsity Music Shop on Nicholson Street. The owner saw me snatching up every Smiths and Morrissey single I could lay my hands on. He probably thought it was comical to see an American freaking out about bargain bin vinyl.

He struck up a conversation, and I quickly made a new friend. Before I knew it, he excitedly ran to the storeroom to grab something he wanted to give me. He returned with several original promotional postcards for The Smiths album Louder Than Bombs. They were in mint condition, and he had been saving them for a worthy fan. 

I next saw Morrissey in Stockholm, Sweden. Because I was traveling, I had a very expensive camera with me, but the venue had banned all photography. Somehow, I convinced the security guard to let me check in the camera for safekeeping. He sent me to an unmarked door on the side of the arena.

I knocked, and the door cracked open. I suddenly realized I was at the backstage entrance. As I was being escorted to a security booth, I noticed a small crowd gathered around a black pompadour. I entrusted a complete stranger with my camera, and he pointed to an opening in the black curtain, telling me to exit through there. As I proceeded to walk out, something caught my eye. Morrissey’s face appeared through the small crowd, and for a brief second, our eyes met.

Post-college, I moved to New York City to work for SPIN Magazine. After several years of paying my dues as an assistant, I was finally able to travel to SXSW for work. The timing could not have been more perfect; that year Morrissey happened to be performing. I was invited to sit in on an extremely rare interview between Mr. Morrissey and Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke.

I managed to snag a seat in the front row and thoroughly enjoyed watching my idol poke fun at this very nervous reporter. Later that night, I caught Morrissey’s set and maneuvered my way into the photo pit. Fans usually risk everything to jump on stage to touch him, and there I was within arms reach. I stuck out my hand, and he gingerly grabbed it and nodded.

When I saw Morrissey in 2009 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, he took the stage in a tuxedo, and for some reason, I felt like my world of Morrissey had come full circle. I was older, as was he. His pompadour was no longer solid black, and he had gained a few pounds. Yet, he was humbled to be on the stage of this renowned venue and thanked all of his fans for their continued faith. Had that been the last Morrissey performance in my lifetime, I would have been satisfied.

Over the years, my life has changed immensely. Relationships have come and gone, but Morrissey and his music have always remained a constant in my adult life. In one of my favorite songs by The Smiths, Morrissey reminds us to never forget the songs that made us smile, the songs that made us cry and the songs that have saved our lives.

Morrissey, you have done precisely that for so many of us — and that is why I will always be true to you.

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