Morrissey

I love this virtual world where you can invite to your virtual party, to celebrate the first year of Live on 35mm, the most important artist to have appeared on the English scene after the Beatles: Morrissey.

“A jumped up pantry boy
Who never knew his place
He said “return the ring”
He knows so much about these things
He knows so much about these things

I would go out tonight
But I haven’t got a stitch to wear
This man said “It’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care”
Na, na-na, na-na, na-na, this charming man …
Na, na-na, na-na, na-na, this charming man …”

[The Charming Man – The Smiths]

Indie philosophy linked a community that socially identifies around a music for more than 20 years. As Wendy Fonarow describes in her wonderful book “Empire of Dirt – The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music” it is a proper british phenomenon, radicate and influencing society beyond music and up to fashion, design and journalism.

“Existence is only a game
And I’m, Not sorry for, For the things I’ve done
And I’m, Not looking for, Just anyone

And I’m, Not sorry for, For the things I’ve said
There’s a wild man in my head, There’s a wild man In my head”

[I’m Not Sorry – Morrissey]

Morrissey since he appeared on Top of the Pop with a bunch of gladioli singing This Charming Man obtained a godlike status within UK. As any God, he speaks his Word and the words he uses are always so effective to storm debates that question the inner nature of being British. A country split between worshippers and people who cannot stand him.

“Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I’d like to smash every tooth
In your head

Oh … sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
When I said by rights you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt
As the flames rose to her roman nose
And her Walkman started to melt

Bigmouth strikes again
And I’ve got no right to take my place
With the Human race”

[Bigmouth Strikes Again – The Smiths]

He synthesized in 4 lines the indie manifesto. Before Panic we were looking for a holy grail, after we found it. A music about emotions, against technique and show-off, a music that speaks about us.

“Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life”

[Panic – The Smiths]

We have our clubs and our nights, we are beautifully lonely in our own depressions

“Take me out tonight
Where there’s music and there’s people
And they’re young and alive
Driving in your car
I never never want to go home
Because I haven’t got one
Anymore

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten-ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well, the pleasure – the privilege is mine

Oh, there is a light and it never goes out”

[There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths]

“There’s a club, if you’d like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go, and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry
And you want to die

You shut your mouth
How can you say?
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does”

[How Soon is Now? – The Smiths]

I don’t know who was the target when wrote Get Off the Stage song, but is reinforcing the point. The addressee must have stopped playing, since authenticity and credibility, the two key features of any independent artist (cit. Wendy Fonarow’s book again) are missing.

“Oh, you silly old man
You silly old man
You’re making a fool of yourself
So get off the stage

You silly old man
In your misguided trousers
With your mascara and your Fender guitar
And you think you can arouse us?

But the song that you just sang
It sounds exactly like the last one
And the next one
I bet you it will sound
Like this one”

[Get Off The Stage – Morrissey]

There is a never-ending struggle with England and the rest of the world, a sense of impatience and discomfort about places is recurring in the lyrics

“Oh ! Take me back to dear old Blighty,
Put me on the train for London Town,
Take me anywhere,
Drop me anywhere,
Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham

Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between arches
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing

I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil ?
Oh …
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the 18th pale descendant
Of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed ?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed ?

Past the Pub who saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Life is very long, when you’re lonely”

[The Queen is Dead – The Smiths]

Few years living in LA and is America’s turn.

“America your head’s too big, Because America, Your belly is too big.
And I love you, I just wish you’d stay where you belong

In America, The land of the free, they said, And of opportunity, In a just and a truthful way.
But where the president, is never black, female or gay, and until that day,
you’ve got nothing to say to me, to help me believe

In America, it brought you the hamburger. Well America you know where, you can shove your hamburger.
And don’t you wonder, why in Estonia they say, hey you, you big fat pig

Steely blue eyes with no love in them, scan the World,
And a humourless smile, with no warmth within, greets the world.
And I, I have got nothing, to offer you
No-no-no-no-no, just this heart deep and true, which you say you don’t need”

[America is not the World – Morrissey]

A farewell to California settled him in Rome, Rome? why Rome? Something I’d love to know, Is any hint hidden here?

“Pasolini is me
‘Accattone’ you’ll be
I entered nothing and nothing entered me
‘Til you came with the key
And you did your best but

As I live and breathe
You have killed me
You have killed me
Yes I walk around somehow
But you have killed me
You have killed me

Piazza Cavour, what’s my life for?

Visconti is me
Magnani you’ll never be
I entered nothing and nothing entered me
‘Til you came with the key
And you did your best but

And there is no point saying this again
there is no point saying this again
But I forgive you, I forgive you
Always I do forgive you.”

[You have Killed Me – Morrissey]

Mancunian fans petitioned to close any butcher and burger shop if he moved back to his neighborood, he opted out for the Eternal city

“…and the flesh you so fancifully fry
Is not succulent, tasty or kind
Its death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder

And the calf that you carve with a smile
Is murder
And the turkey you festively slice
Is murder
Do you know how animals die ?

Kitchen aromas arent very homely
Its not comforting, cheery or kind
Its sizzling blood and the unholy stench of murder

Its not natural, normal or kind
The flesh you so fancifully fry
The meat in your mouth
As you savour the flavour of murder”

[Meat is Murder – The Smiths]

A big chapter. Beef eaters aren’t Moz only target, he creates much more of a storm when he talks about his country. The ambiguous facets encountered in his lyrics, reinforced in interviews, have created several discussions that reached serious questions about his and English intolerance today. I can’t stand for him or against, because I can’t read the inner side of such lyrics, English is a tricky language when you are not English…

“No no no
he does not want to depress you
oh no no no no no
he only wants to impress you
Bengali in platform
she only wants to embrace your culture
and to be your friend forever
Bengali, Bengali
oh shelve your Western plans
and understand that life is hard enough when you belong here
A silver-studded rim that glistens
and an ankle-star that…blinds me
a lemon sole so very high
which only reminds me, to tell you
so I break the news gently
I break the news to you gently
“Shelve your plans”
Bengali, Bengali
its the touchy march of time
that blinds you
don’t blame me
don’t hate me
just because I’m the one to tell you
that life is hard enough when you belong here
life is hard enough when you belong here
shelve your western plans
life is hard enough when you belong here”

[Bengali in Platform – Morrissey]

The one that didn’t seem (to me) to leave much space to interpretation from the title to the chorus, apparently does

“David, the wind blows
The wind blows …
Bits of your life away
Your friends all say …
“Where is our boy ? Oh, we’ve lost our boy”
But they should know
Where you’ve gone
Because again and again you’ve explained that
You’re going to …

Oh, you’re going to …
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
England for the English !
England for the English !

National, ah …
To the National ..
There’s a country; you don’t live there
But one day you would like to
And if you show them what you’re made of
Oh, then you might do …

National
To the National
To the National Front Disco
Because you want the day to come sooner
You want the day to come sooner
When you’ve settled the score”

[National Front Disco – Morrissey]

To reignite the question a fight caught him, NME, the journalist Tom Jonze, the national press and some solicitors busy for weeks about a year ago…all was around an interview with few sentences “The gates of England are flooded. The country’s been thrown away”. He denied and accused to be manipulated by NME, one thing is for sure, his thought about the music press was clear even eighteen year before

“Journalists who lie
Stealing the money
Prospering with spite
Hate-In-A-Hurry

They’re only trying to make their name
By spreading Biz myth-lies
About the ones who’ve made their name
Stick in the knife
Stick in the knife

Journalists who lie
The truth is, it happens
Praise, then crucify
Just follow this pattern
And see how :

They’re only trying to make their name
By spreading sickening lies
About the ones who’ve made their name
Mate, give us the knife
Give us the knife

Journalists who lie
So happy in malice
Rock star – out of line
So happy in malice
Oh …

They’re only trying to make their name
With unprovable lies
About the ones
Who’ve made their name

In the black hole
Of your soul
Still bargaining away the Truth
So easily
Truth

Journalists who lie
Stealing the money
Prospering with spite
And Hate-In-A-Hurry

Journalists who lie
The truth is, it happens
Praise, then crucify
Just follow this pattern

Journalists who lie
So sick and belaboured
They want to be favoured
They only want to be favoured”

[Journalists who Lie – Morrissey]

Journalists are in good company, the record industry was already an enemy at the times of The Smiths

“At the record company meeting
On their hands – a dead star
And oh, the plans they weave
And oh, the sickening greed

At the record company party
On their hands – a dead star
The sycophantic slags all say :
“I knew him first, and I knew him well”

Re-issue ! Re-package ! Re-package !
Re-evaluate the songs
Double-pack with a photograph
Extra Track (and a tacky badge)

A-list, playlist
“Please them , please them !”
“Please them !”
(sadly, THIS was your life)

But you could have said no
If you’d wanted to
You could have said no
If you’d wanted to

BPI, MTV, BBC
“Please them ! Please them !”
(sadly this was your life)

But you could have said no
If you’d wanted to
You could have walked away
…Couldn’t you ?

I touched you at the soundcheck
You had no real way of knowing
In my heart I begged “Take me with you …
I don’t care where you’re going…”

But to you I was faceless
I was fawning, I was boring
Just a child from those ugly new houses
Who could never begin to know

Who could never really know
Oh …

Best of ! Most of !
Satiate the need
Slip them into different sleeves !
Buy both, and feel deceived

Climber – new entry, re-entry
World tour ! (“media whore”)
“Please the Press in Belgium !”
(THIS was your life…)

And when it fails to recoup ?
Well, maybe :
You just haven’t earned it yet, baby

I walked a pace behind you at the soundcheck
You’re just the same as I am
What makes most people feel happy
Leads us headlong into harm

So, in my bedroom in those ‘ugly new houses’
I danced my legs down to the knees
But me and my ‘true love’
Will never meet again …

At the record company meeting
On their hands – at last ! – a dead star !
But they can never taint you in my eyes
No, they can never touch you now

No, they cannot hurt you, my darling
They cannot touch you now
But me and my ‘true love’
Will never meet again”

[Paint a Vulgar Picture – The Smiths]

…which would be a bit more believable if an umpteenth greatest hits album wasn’t out with its many editions and packagings available.
There is no other artist as Morrissey in UK and probably around the world, either you love or detest him, one thing he can claim, England and not only his music would have been different today if he hadn’t appeared.

In the “difficult to believe” case you don’t know Morrissey songs you can listen some short sample here [myspace] browse his website [website] or find thousands of performances on .


~ by Valerio on October 5, 2008.

5 Responses to “Morrissey”

  1. Very good Valerio, one of the few topic of yours wich you put your ego a step or two behind and let only espress just the artist
    with the lyrics or details of his life and yourself with the camera.

  2. love love love the smiths, To see them photographed on black and white film is just simply pleasure.
    Keep up the good work friend.

  3. you probably already know my opinion on the subject.

    greatest poet alive, still inspired (and inspiring) after all those years.

  4. Glad you caught him live then, I have a feeling you’d walkout if you saw the current photo agreement you are asked to sign to capture him now.

  5. I would yes, there was not agreement at all at this gig.

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