Friday, February 13, 2009

Morrissey: An Assessment

Here' s question: is Morrissey any good? I ask because he has a new album out - lyrics 'so horribly sour you could make cottage cheese by leaving a pint of milk next to the speakers' - and because I have absolutely no idea whether he is any good. In fact, I've never listened to a whole Morrissey song and what fragments I have heard were merely overheard. He is a void in my pop cultural awareness. There are many such voids, of course, but none seem quite so gaping as Morrissey. I must, in the eighties, have been doing something else. Perhaps I was happy - I gather that disqualifies one from liking Morrissey.


  1. No he isn't, he produces and endless stream of boring bland tunless music and combines it with an irritating persona and a large dose of self importance. I have always found his popularity inexplicable particularly as people who like him tend to have very similar taste to me apart from that.

  2. You've got to get into the right place, Kev. Take him neither seriously nor lightly.

    Morrissey is one of the best things in life, as I explained here.

  3. That's a excellent observation Brit. Morrissey is playful, with a Northern working class Wildean sensibility ('Belligerent ghouls
    run Manchester schools' etc).

    Many of his tunes are wonderful. Occasionally he makes some silly statements, but you've got to enjoy the mock grandeur of the man.

  4. you've made this mistake before! he's enjoyed by millions therefore he must be of some good.
    however, I think he's proof that The Smiths was significantly greater than the sum of its parts. You'd have to be miserable not to like them just a little bit.

  5. It's okay to be happy & like Morrissey, as long as bitterness and homicide make you happy.

    i quite like him. i think 'Vauxhall and I' is good, the first and last tracks are particularly stirring.

    i think he was accused of being a racist...? - probably said he likes fish & chips or something similarly Hitler-like.

    He's also apparently incredibly strong and can kill a man with a single blow.

  6. I think the whole point is to be happy in your unhappiness or others unhappiness.

    take for example, the local free paper this morning carry's sad news, the passing of ex councilor Fred Woodbine (96)

  7. Must admit I never got the Smiths at all. I think I must just have been too Southern, three or four years too old (makes a difference in your twenties), and too unimaginatively heterosexual …

    But isn't there something unique about 80s music generally --- in that most of it sounds just as horrible now as it did at the time? On the whole, time is remarkably kind to pop music --- more so than to most of the other arts, I'd venture. Even the most ephemeral-seeming 60s bubblegum seems to have acquired a monumental quality over the years, a quite inexplicable gravitas (Dylan pins this down in an interview somewhere). Same has begun to happen to the really cheesy 1970s stuff – Abba, of course, but also the Carpenters (for God's sake), even disco and prog. This could be put down to nostalgia but I'd rather go all Blakean and say it's something to do with Eternity being in love with the productions of Time. But even Eternity couldn’t love the productions of that decade.

  8. Nobody in pop has better understood the tragic figure of the intelligent teenager.

    You say : "'Ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn"
    And you claim these words as your own
    But I've read well, and I've heard them said
    A hundred times (maybe less, maybe more)
    If you must write prose/poems
    The words you use should be your own
    Don't plagiarise or take "on loan"
    'Cause there's always someone, somewhere
    With a big nose, who knows
    And who trips you up and laughs
    When you fall
    Who'll trip you up and laugh
    When you fall

    You say : "'Ere long done do does did"
    Words which could only be your own
    And then produce the text
    From whence t'was ripped
    (Some dizzy whore, 1804)

    Now that's Eternal, because intelligent teenagers will always be tragic.

  9. Hurrah for the internet! I thought I was the only one who didn't like Morrissey. I thought it wasn't allowed.
    And there were much more enjoyable ways of being young and unhappy in the 80s.

  10. Here's a few of my fav songs:

    Last of the famous international playboys:


    I have forgiven Jesus:

  11. The process by which we end up listening to music is threefold, accidentally heard wherever, we buy it in CD form or as a visit to a performance, or as a parent given not much choice by miscellaneous sprogs.
    The Smiths fall into the third category. I went through three phases, "who the hell are this lot?" then "hey they ain't half bad" followed by "these people really have something to say."
    I went through the same learning curve with punk.

    I seriously objected to being forced to listen to the Dead Kennedy's.

    Morrissey is in danger of becoming a latter-day Les Dawson.

  12. The Smiths and Morrissey's early solo work were excellent proper pop music but since the mid 1990's his work's been pretty hit and miss.
    His music is apparently very popular with young latino men in California, this pleases me for some reason.

  13. Oh no. I love Morrissey and was hoping he'd found... oh never mind. Agree with Stephen's comment. Johnny gave him the music and then he wrote the words. Perhaps more expressive music would spark more wit and charm. From the Radcliffe and Maconie concert This Charming Man sounded beautiful, despite no jangly guitar, and I welled even as a retrospective Smiths fan. I haven't given up hope because when it all works no one else comes close. It's personal, like it is for everyone.