|Day 20: The Smiths (I Started Something I Couldn't Finish)
May 16, 2020
This Pandemic Panoply was destined to run into either The Smiths or Morrissey solo at some point. I doubted it would happen within the first three weeks. I probably hoped it wouldn't. The canon of both provide way too many opportunities to dig deep into my emotional hope chest.
But I keep wondering if I really will get through this plan to write about 365 songs by 365 artists in the next year. Few things haunt me through life but if anything comes close it's starting some things I couldn't finish. Almost all of them come from the world of friendships. I have had plenty of great friendships, including many that have lasted 4+ decades, and others that I know will survive for as long as the future allows.
But there have been times I have taken The Smiths' "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" too much to heart, friendships and loves I have had to walk away from because they were too hard to maintain. A dedicated reader can find a few references, outright full blogs, to some of my desertions through the 10 years of this website. I have a history of dramatic, clean breaks from people who for awhile meant everything in the world to me. I can justify all of these abandoned friendships as necessary to save myself, but whenever I hear The Smiths "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish," I think about what all these things unfinished say about me.
"Typical me, typical me, typical me," Morrissey sings, "and now I'm not too sure." First off, has there ever been anybody more suited to writing lyrics around "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish," the man who has, according to one source, cancelled 130 concerts in between 2012 and 2018? It's bad enough that I have purchased tickets to at least 2 of those, but add to that Morrissey's Autobiography, which even published sure could have used a little finishing. I mean I loooove Moz a lot, but the man is music's equivalent of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
If anything, I have worked hard to not keep this cycle going as I reached my 50s. However, a cardiac arrest and multiple surgeries to install stents makes me wonder if I need to let things go more easily again. On a day when I might feel a little sick, I wonder if this series of blogs will be something unfinished.
Thus, like a great Johnny Marr lick, I am back at this Pandemic Panoply. Am I insane to think I can carry off this 365 songs in 365 days venture, given that I am always another blocked artery away from a heart attack, all the more likely when I know the next 350 days or so will require me to lead SMC's reaffirmation of accreditation efforts, instructional adaptations of our courses to meet the equalizer that is COVID-19, institutional efforts to become fully blessed for online classes, along with the regular work I have to do? And on days, like this week at a meeting, when I "doused our friendly venture with a hard-faced three-word gesture" (and trust me I know my moment is the exact opposite of what Morrissey's means), I worry that I am on the way to more things I can't finish.
This damn world of the pandemic requires superhuman effort to rise above the challenges and truly move the needle on work. When Morrissey sings that "eighteen months hard labor seems fair enough" for the crime of starting something he couldn't finish, that sounds like an optimistic view for the survival of this pandemic. My health has pushed me several times over the last couple of years to not be too sure about what I can finish.
It's funny but as I got into this Pandemic Panoply, I thought I knew where I would likely choose songs. With The Smiths, I would have bet the house that I chose "I Know It's Over," an equally brilliant Morrissey lyric about coming up short, about difficult closures. "I Know It's Over" and "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" are his goodbye love letters to The Smiths and Johnny Marr. Typical me, I thought for sure I would be citing the soil I can feel falling over my head, but in the end I was not too sure.
"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish." Strangeways, Here We Come. Rough Trade. 1987. Link here.
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Day 21: The Raspberries "I Wanna Be With You." ->
See full unfinished list here.