MORRISSEY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Penguìn books, 2013)
"There is no self-discovery in a safe life"
Steven Patrick Morrissey has, to some extent, always courted equal measures of praise and ridicule. The mean-spirited criticism by the NME and other hacks within the music press was less evident while The Smiths were still together mainly because only those with cloth ears would have dared criticise the band’s four magnificent studio albums and peerless run of singles.
As a solo artist, however, he has become fair game for the haters so he is not exaggerating too much when he complains that “all I ever read about myself is one of intolerable egocentricity and dramatized depression”.
Carole Cadwalladr’s ridiculous Guardian article (‘Morrissey, You’re A Fraud’) exemplifies the kind of feeble-minded reporting he tends to generate these days. Cadwalladr effectively blames him for all the ills of modern Britain and writes that “he is the very definition of old news”. If this were true, character assassinations like hers would be rejected as irrelevant but the reality, as she well knows, is that the man remains newsworthy and, moreover, is still greeted with adulation from millions of fans.
Of course, for someone with such a well-developed martyr complex, Morrissey sets himself up to be knocked down.
Morrissey’s outspoken opinions have always been designed to grab headlines and ruffle feathers so he rarely troubles to use temperate language. Likening the treatment of animals to child abuse and their slaughter for food to the holocaust is deliberate exaggeration for effect. The mass media are only too happy to rise to the bait presenting these statements with fake outrage while attracting a sizeable readership in the process.
Just one of Morrissey’s excellent solo albums.
One might argue, with some justification, that his best work is behind him but too many are quick dismiss all Morrissey’s post-Smiths work as second-rate. This judgement is one of blind (deaf?) prejudice which ignores the consistently high quality of his song writing. Morrissey acknowledges that Kill Uncle (“recording something for the sake of recording”) was a mistake but his evident pride in fine albums like Vauxhall & I, Your Arsenal and You Are The Quarry is wholly merited.
There is a rush to dismiss his autobiography in the same terms that I went out of my way to avoid reading any reviews or spoilers before reading and I think long time fans or foes should make up their own minds before being so hasty in their criticism. Continue reading