Morrissey – Autobiography (A book review)
Songwriters are the poets of the modern working classes. Nothing resonates more with the soul than the moment when the thoughtful clarity of a finely crafted lyric elates such strong feelings. Morrissey has a full arsenal of those words, and it is within the confines of the written word ‘autobiography’ that he manages to develop and elaborate on the existentialist musings that have often permeated his musical life.
These rare moments when we are given pure unadulterated access into the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of an individual so far removed and so much attached to our own lives, are often for most fans, the only opportunity we’ll ever get for a real insight into the ‘das leben das anderen’, the lives of the others. There are many things to learn, and many things to clear up from this enlightenment of one of the most well-known musical artists of the last three decades.
The most important thing that needs to be cleared up is that there will never be a Smiths reunion. THE SMITHS ARE DEAD. Forever. The haters will no doubt rejoice, and the young hipsters in their t-shirts will no doubt yearn forevermore, yet those that have read Morrissey’s account of former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce suing for royalties will no doubt understand and respect that such a reformation could not in any way take place. If they do, there will be no integrity left within the music industry. If we take Morrissey’s words at face value, then Joyce is a cunt. He wasn’t the only one in that saga though…
The vitriolic, hateful and rightfully scornful portrayal of Judge Weeks who presided over the case is a particular highlight of the book. Morrissey does not hold back in his condemnation of him and the biased, antiquated and absurd nature of the British legal system. A disdain for the British establishment and its class system has never been far off the Morrissey radar, and here he turns up the volume of jeer to unprecedented levels.
This level of hatred penetrates perfectly through the lyrics in the song ‘Irish Blood. English Heart’, with “I've been dreaming of a time when…The English are sick to death of Labor… and Tories… and spit upon the name Oliver Cromwell… and denounce this royal line that still salute him.” This book reminded me how powerful this poetic punk piece is, and every time I hear it, sing it, the hairs on my back stand up. It comes as no surprise that he has abandoned the country in favour of Los Angeles.
The other cunts in the story are the NME. You already know that, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. A familiar story of slander and defamation awaits those that aren’t scared of reading all 450 pages. It’s remarkable to think how successful he has been despite the unfounded accusations and the amount he has been shunned by radio and TV promotion.
Generally, what you will find when reading this, is enjoyment in the eloquence of his execution – ordinary tales of the grind of day to day life are brought to life by his poetic words and astute analysis of a world filled with equal amounts of misery and madness.
It’s hard not to be taken in by the charm of Morrissey, the wordsmith has is way of wooing the reader into the central tensions of his life. He goes into great depth about the recent world of Morrissey and the privations of his life as a young Steven, without looking for pity or eluding a sense of privilege. Loners of the world will certainly unite and feel comfort with his feelings of inadequacies towards the mainstream culture and his detachment from others – it’s genuinely heart-warming stuff, and makes me feel better for preferring to be in solitary existence from time to time.
Whether its grim tales of school and family life in 1960’s Manchester, The Smiths period on Rough Trade Records, or the dizzy heights of Morrissey’s solo career; this book covers it all, and no doubt there is something in here for everyone, whether you are a casual or hardcore fan. Without doubt, one of the best music autobiographies I have ever read.