“Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head”
Dorian Lynskey has written an article about Morrissey’s cantankerousness and whether it has distanced his ageing fanbase.
As one of his ageing fanbase, I replied to a few questions.I took an hour or so to decide if I wanted to partake, after all, this was Morrissey and, as a purchaser of the novel and frequent visitor to his gigs, could I really betray my cult leader?
Here are my original rambling replies.
It was probably The Queen is Dead that won me over and repeated listening of “pay no more than £4.49” Hatful of Hollow. All the clichés abounded “I am deep because I am lonely and sad too” “oh yes, all the clubs at the end of the road will lead top me crying and wanting to die.”
“I better write some poetry” Thank heavens that was put in a bonfire in the early 90s.
I didn’t have reservations during the Madstock controversy and I worked hard to imagine Kill Uncle wasn’t terrible. I remember pinning up a bad Melody Maker review of Kill Uncle and daubing it with slogans about what a liar the journalist was…then i heard it, and with the chutzpah of youth, attempted to maintain my position despite the evidence.
I think Southpaw Grammar was the first splinter. Only ten years before, in The Headmaster Ritual, he had been on the side of the pupils, now, with The Teachers are Afraid of the Pupils, he was entering his “kids nowadays” phase. The clunker of a final track on the US release of Maladjusted, Sorrow Will Come in the End
“And you were believed
By a J.P. senile and vile
You pleaded and squealed
And you think you’ve won
But Sorrow will come
To you in the end”
His revenge song against Mike Joyce seemed very clunky.
The “what about me-ness”, ‘the aren’t i always the real victim of everything” started to be too overt.
It all seems like a long way from the Patti Smith inspired feminist, though maybe it wasn’t.
Now I find that he represents a rather typical selfishness, a sledgehammer provocateur who seems to have much in common with the “paid to wrote spite” columnists of our daily papers.
The “Aren’t white middle class men the real victims nowadays” sort of archaic Littlejohnisms are just around the corner.
I was drawn to him because he was writing about humanity when i was young and trying to work out how to be a human and now his view of humanity, his appreciation for some of the world’s more oafishly petty politicians makes him a hard listen. With some artists I think I can separate the art and the human, but he is an artist whose subject is himself, so that gets tricky.
There is a point where I think, I can listen to Life is a Pigsty or I can listen Nick Cave’s Distant Sky or Savage’s Adore, songs that do not call for a haughty withdrawal from life, but engaging with it whatever its trials. I am too old to be a Box Bedroom Rebel blaming everyone else for my failures. There are plenty of people doing that already. I begin to wonder if Morrissey joins that group of people whose hope is not that his work will make anyone else’s life better, merely that he can eventually make everyone feel as bad as he does. Cave elevates, while Morrissey takes out a shovel and offers you a new hole.
And he seems to have become less elegantly cantankerous with age. It’s like being the only guest at a seaside bed and breakfast and, while waiting for your grey scrambled eggs, the host goes on and on about what’s wrong with the Chinese and how the promenade is not what it was since all the new people came and removed the Only Fools and Horses fruit machine. After an hour of waiting, you ask if the scrambled eggs are nearly ready, he throws up his arms and says, “I only have one pair of hands” and insists you leave as it is all so unfair and no one will ever know how a harassed bed and breakfast proprietor feels. ” Oh, TripAdvisor, so much to answer for.”
“It takes strength to be gentle and kind.”
I am doing two shows in Edinburgh for the first twelve days of the festival and will then be off on tour with an amalgam of them both. All details of such things HERE.
also, I highly recommend Dorian’s 33 Revolutions Per Minute, a book about the protest song. Here is his article. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jul/23/morrissey-when-did-charming-become-cranky-smiths-england-is-mine