By April Richardson
On May 22, 1959, in Davyhulme, a section of Manchester, England, Steven Patrick Morrissey was born and the course of history changed forever.
You see, it's hard for me to avoid hyperbole when talking about Morrissey (I can truthfully say that he's the person who has had the greatest impact on my life, second only to my own mother), but I really feel his influence cannot be overstated. Some say Morrissey pretty much invented indie rock when he formed the Smiths in 1982 (with Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce), his intelligent and articulate lyrics contrasting greatly with what was on the radio at the time. While you might not agree with this and you might not even like him, his influence can be heard far and wide and probably in the music of some of your favorite bands — from Pete Wentz's lyrics to Brandon Flowers' stage presence to Andre 3000's songwriting (yes, dude wishes he'd written "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me").
Best lyricist since Bob Dylan? Probably. Most charming and handsome? Certainly. His swagger is on a whole 'nother level. And while he is definitely a polarizing figure — the phrase "love him or hate him" was invented for this guy — there is something to be said for staying true to yourself in a world of youth-obsessed trends and constant image makeovers. The (now-graying) quiff, the granite jaw, the provocative answers to interview questions and absolute refusal to change in any way to please "the industry" — that's Morrissey. And Morrissey has never stopped Being Morrissey and will never stop Being Morrissey, like it or lump it.
So happy 50th to my hero, the guy who told me and millions of others that it was OK to be weird, OK to be bookish and awkward — that there was a certain kind of unique glamour in being alone, a kind of hope in despair. "You've got your books, you've got your records — you'll be OK. Hell, you might even be better off alone, because most people probably won't understand you anyway; you're weird and it's OK to be weird. I am too." As a teenager, that's what Morrissey said to me and countless others — nerds of the world, unite and take over!