This is by far my favorite song of The Smiths. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it had to do with a guy strumming a shabby guitar playing this song on North Quad at Oberlin. But I think, I hope, I liked this song before that performance. (Because it actually turned out to be the only endearing thing about that guy. He was a dickish devil’s advocate type. You never knew what he really thought about anything).
Of course, I love this song because I used to be impossibly shy in middle & high school although no one believes that now.
But maybe I also love this song because it played with my fears of a nuclear holocaust. I used to have such vivid, hyper reality nightmares about nuclear incineration when I was growing up in New Jersey. One in particular stood out. I guess it’s one of those false awakening dreams.
It was the middle of a cool fall night but I felt like I was burning up, so I got up out of bed. Everything was ringed in tense auras. My brothers were also up. The sky started to brighten unnaturally. The three of us went into my grandmother’s bedroom. She wasn’t there and then everything started to incinerate, I remember trying to shield my eyes and the unbearable heat.
These dreams of a nuclear holocaust are probably generational. I think that’s why my favorite book by Gen-Xer, Douglas Coupland is Life After God because of the short story The Wrong Sun, the flashes of light ending everything, because it’s unremitting in its apocalyptic vision. I felt like he cracked open my brain in 1995.
So I guess I love Ask because it makes such fun of that fear, to love in spite of it.