17 January 1991 was a Thursday, pretty close to my twentieth birthday. Young people in my hometown decided unanimously to give up the school day, and gather in the city square to loudly protest the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, better known then as the Gulf War.
Lots of slogans were making the rounds, we were understandably outraged and scared: in the prime of our lives, that day represented the fateful moment where a real war unfurled in front of our eyes. Live on TV, no less. Despite sharing the feelings with the crowd, part of me was sceptical about how effective a group of screaming teenagers from a small town in a western province could be.
Around noon, a couple of classmates and I decided to leave, heading for the close seaside town of Rimini. We drove quietly for half an hour, greeted by a bright sun and a gentle breeze. While walking to a near bar, I was attracted by a record store on the opposite side. Apparently, that was all it took back then to turn my distraught teenager worries around: a captivating melody in the air, the smell of vinyl and a dusty carpet.
My two friends waited patiently on a bench outsde, while I turned my attention to a specific section. Still mourning their relatively recent split, I knew I would flick through The Smiths’ repertoire, indulging while reading through the sleeve credits. Of course everything was already familiar — how could I expect to find anything new from a band that didn’t exist anymore? Morrissey’s Viva Hate didn’t really placate my craving for their music: sorry, Stephen Street. I barely knew about his recent collection Bona Drag.
I waved at Luca through the shop window, signalling that I was about to join them, when I caught the grey cover of a 45 RPM single by Morrissey. I immediately picked it up and had a thorough look. It was titled Yes, I’m Blind — typical Morrissey! I’d never heard of that, so I asked the clerk. After his unsatisfactory explanation, I’d decided to buy it on a whim. Because yes, with certain things, I’m blind.
Couldn’t wait to go back home and listen to the song. I still remember how I immediately loved that single. The chord sequence, the minimalistic arrangement, the clean and thoughtful performance that framed perfectly Morrissey’s lovely whining. Of course I was stunned when I read the full credits: written by Andy Rourke.
Requiescat in pace, Andy. Forever and ever my favourite bass player.