Sweet and Tender Hooligans

The other night I was reading a delightful MSNmusic list feature on the mopiest singers of all time.

Ben Gibbard. Conor Oberst. Ryan Adams. Cat Power.

And where would they all be without the saddest bastard mope of them all? Mr. “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” himself?


I used to listen to the Smiths all the time when I started high school, locking myself in my upstairs bedroom where the light glowed red against the walls, reading their sad lyrics and then writing sad poetry of my own.

His words, so eloquent and twisting and positively lovely, captured at that time every ounce of ninth grade pessimism that one only experiences before they’ve been properly kissed.

Yet, four years later, I can still sit and listen to his sorrowful moans and fevered tales and still feel encircled by his words, like they belong to me. “That joke isn’t funny anymore!” I frequently shout in approval.

It’s lyrics and crooning offset by jangly guitar hooks and an occasionally biting sense of humor.

And anyone who’s ever sat in the dark listening to “I Want The One I Can’t Have” knows that they are never alone. There’s thousands of other mopes, dressed in slim-fitting The Queen Is Dead t-shirts scribbling lyrics over wrists and elbows, so they’ll never forget that it probably is just another false alarm.

There are books written about it. Not necessarily about Morrissey, but about the rising sense of doom, encircled in white light, that fills a person’s chest when they have properly listen to the Smiths.

“It’s awful isn’t it?….Yes, but isn’t all so beautiful?” The call and response question posed within the poetry-filled minds of unloved misfits. Unloved misfits that would tattoo the phrase on their own foreheads just so the rest of the world knows that they are, in fact, entirely alone. And that they are ironic. And far too literally conscious. And passive aggressive. And angry with their sometimes imagined lovers (even after they’ve been properly kissed.)

And they have only one, proper, ringleader. And he has a lovely puffy hairdo and a voice that has made each and every one of cry on more than one occasion.

We all silently, and not so begrudgingly, finger our first-place moping ribbons beside him.


One response to “Sweet and Tender Hooligans

  1. Hello, Olivia. There’s a lot of competition for the mopiest song or mopiest band. Adolescents are often mopey, and thus are marketed with mopey music.

    I would prefer less mopey music. Happy music is better. There is time for sorrow and feeling like a pile of shit. Yes. But not all of adolescence is angst and despair. There are joyful moments too.

    Moping gets very, very boring after a while. Particularly if it is all you sing about.

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