The song that made me a Manics fan, in October 1993:
From my diary, 23rd of February 1995, the day I found out:
“This is it then. This is the news I’ve been dreading for the last sixteen months.”
It was still summer holidays in Australia, and I’d joined my parents at the kitchen table for a mid morning coffee when my mum told me what she’d read in the paper.
“As I grabbed the ‘Today’ section and read the small article within I swear my heart was beating faster than it ever has it my life. By the time we were all sitting there drinking coffee I was shaking. “It could just be a publicity stunt,” suggested Mum. I said it was unlikely. “One of your heroes, is it?” asked Dad. I could barely mumble an answer but Mum came to the rescue with “Just a good music person.” When I finally made it back to my bedroom I began crying uncontrollably. My Manics collage had fallen to the floor but that’s not symbolic, It’s happened many times before… It was a bit much, however, when they began discussing a US cult called Slash and Burn on the radio. Well at least that made me laugh, which helped me to regain my composure a bit.”
When you’re a person like me, who connects more easily with music, with bands and songs (or a book, a poem, a play, a film) than with the people actually around you in your life, it’s a very difficult time when something awful happens to one of your idols. On top of the grief, or worry, or whatever emotions the event has arisen in you, you have to deal with people around you shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘well it’s not like you knew him, is it?’
No, it’s not. But imagine you’re 18, and feel isolated, anxious and strange, and you hear lyrics like “There’s nothing nice in my head / The adult world took it all away… Outside opened mouthed crowds / Pass each other as if they’re drugged… The weak kick like straw / Till the world means less and less”. I didn’t know Richey, or any of the Manics, but listening to them, reading their interviews, and, later on, seeing them live, I felt I was known, and real, and less alone.
From my diary, 9th of March, 1995:
“Why has he, for the past year and a half, meant more to me than any other pop star in the world? It’s not just his beauty, but obviously that helps. But I remember reading Manics interviews even before I became a fan, and identifying with things he said – “all rock’n’roll is homosexual”, there is no love because love can’t exist without jealousy, human beings and life in general are full of contradictions, not being able to sleep is very horrible… In interviews and in songs Richey has never hidden his humanity. With so much honesty, so much of his self exposed, in words, in actions… you can’t help but identify with him in some way, or at least think you do.”
My Manics collage is getting on a bit now, but still in one piece. I put it back up on my wall today.
Thank you Richey. x