Doesn't matter when you were born, I guess, my daughter is 11 and just dropped "Meat is Murder", "The Queen is Dead", and "Strangeways" on her ipod and she was impressed.
Thinking back it was a best of times, worst of times era for music. There was new music, U2, REM, to name a few. Then there was the crowd waiting for "The Who" to reunite and make another albun similar to "Whos Next", alot of people wearing Doors shirts insisting Morrison wasn;t dead, you get the picture.
Then came The Smiths. From the time I heard "What Difference Does it Make" I was on board. "Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me", "Cemetry Gates" and "There is a Light" are truly classics.
The Smiths were the band that moved me out of my metal phase. I still like good classic metal (and just about all rock and roll) but as you said, it was the best of times, worst of times music wise. Bon Jovi and other hair metal bands where ruling the airwaves (Twisted Sister, Cinderalla, Ratt, etc.), and after years of listening to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, etc., I started looking for something new, something ... vital. I had heard the odd Smiths song, but when I first heard Panic, I was hooked... Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
IT SAYS NOTHING TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE
The Smiths were a gateway drug for me - to bands like the Jam, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, Joy Division (oh god, how great were Joy Division?), REM, Big Country, the Waterboys, on and on.
Great to see that so many Smiths fans are Art Bell fans, too. Must be something about being open minded.