Goths at the beach.

This short article picks up the thread of previous articles ‘Music of a More Innocent Time’, ‘Heavy Metal and I’, ’84-86: The Lost Years’ and ‘My Gran’s Contribution to the Lost Years’. I promise that the music gets better from here on in but only if ‘here’ is the end of this article rather than the beginning.

Did I ever seriously believe myself to be a Goth? The curly hair didn’t help. It would require daily ironing and thus, in becoming a Goth, I would be committing myself to a lifetime looking awkward waiting my turn for straightening  sessions in hairdressers. Where did it all start or nearly start? I think the Damned’s ‘Grimly Fiendish’ incarnation are to blame. Sort of cartoon Goth, Addams Familyesque almost.  For the sake of I don’t really know what, this article will refer to things being Goth rather than Gothic as that would suggest a more architectural and generally 19th century image as opposed to the poor quality copy affected by 80s teenagers, sort of like a tidy Woolworths opening next door to Harrods.

I certainly owned a few of the records and even some of my earliest CDs were Goth in nature. In fact, the first CD I ever purchased almost a month before I could play it on the CD midi hi-fi I would eventually own. ‘Floodland’ by The Sisters of Mercy in all its Jim Steinman produced glory. In fact, I think it was this superior production that persuaded me to buy the album on CD and simply wait for my Xmas 87 present. ‘Children’ and ‘God’s Own Medicine’ by The Mission were my only other Goth CD. They really weren’t very good. They were also my only Goth live experience at the Manchester Apollo. They split on stage though this may have been rehearsed for the occasion. I travelled there and back in the boot of a Vauxhall Cavalier, thankfully it was an estate. The Mission did serve some purpose in my future listening as their cover of ‘Like a Hurricane’ may have been my earliest exposure to Neil Young.

Typical Goth gig transport?

I also liked Siouxsie and the Banshees who had certainly gone a bit Goth by the mid 80s and also The Cocteau Twins who were liked by Goths though never really considered proper Goth. Mind you, their early pre-greatness material does suggest big Goth influences. Maybe, Goths used to buy the later releases in all their ethereal beauty and complain about the lack of misery and spiders.

The Cure also had a role to play. I think I developed a love of The Cure around the same time as my lifelong love of The Smiths developed. One inspired me to read and write literature. The other inspired me to consider lipstick, not comb or wash and to like insects. I recall discussing The Cure quite regularly during biology lessons along with Siouxsie and the Banshees, obviously I mean that Siouxsie and the Banshees were also discussed rather than they, Siouxsie and the Banshees, were my lab partners. That would have been interesting though.

So why did Goth not really take a hold of me? I guess that The Smiths handled the awkward teenage years far more suitably to my tastes. I also considered horror a little childish and the Gothic obsession with spiders could have been an almost boyish draw towards playing with insects. It must also be said, that a humorous disposition and inability to take things seriously would never sit well in the Goth world. As doom-laden introductory music would announce A Goth band’s arrival on stage, I would be thinking that things just seemed like the beginning to a Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode rather than the more existential attitude that pure Goths may have thought that they gave off. How could one ever take this movement seriously? Dracula has always had the allure of the exotic but, coupled with the setting of Whitby and the fact that the name itself comes across as a proto-Joycean pun, it does all seem rather ridiculous.

What remains of the unfortunate yet ultimately half-hearted Goth flirtation? I think black is still my colour though these days that might only serve to highlight my grey hairs. The Goths that I stumbled across often liked The Cocteau Twins and I still do. There’s the ‘witch house’ that’s around at the moment. I’m sure my enjoyment of Zola Jesus and Grimes stretch back to Goth. Post-Goth I also briefly liked Cranes but not for long before I cottoned on to the irrefutable truth: that they were shit. I also once fell asleep in a graveyard on top of a burial vault but it was no deliberate pilgrimage of doom, the graveyard was merely equidistant between the bar and the kebab van. It also happened in Reading and that’s not very ‘Goth’ at all really.

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