Monday, November 25, 2013

Autobiography - Morrissey - Penguin Classics

Stop me, stop me, if you've heard this one before…. "I come not to praise Morrissey, but to bury him' write the critics. They tear at the carcass of his mottled career, they point at his bones, sticking through the thick skin of irony and they shout: "Fake!", "Poseur!", "Charlatan!" They call to question his public comments and they challenge his sexual agnostics, his vegan lifestyle and his abandonment of the mother country for the crass urbanism of the Americas. They even grunt and moan at the voluptuousness of his new Autobiography, it's ample 600 pages bosom of beared soul-poetic hate, loathing and embracement, which, it seems spent an eternity in its rumoured gestation period. And they are cynical about the imprint of its release, on Penguin Classics. This, now, shouldn't be a surprise. After all Morrissey had pushed for the release of his solo albums to go out on EMI's HMV imprint, which was, at the time, an exclusively classical music vehicle. Typical Morrissey hubris - ad nauseum (sic! The real problem lies in the expectations of the word 'classic'). Can Stephen really expect to live along side The Iliard, Rudyard Kipling or even Frances Hodgson Burnett. The joke or the pun, intended, is on the critic! Like a deeply depressing Dicken's novel he begins with the account of childhood, in miserable post war, sludge-grey Stretford. Life was terrible, school was unhappy and Angela's Ashes seemed like luxury - it did! Yes we all lived in a paper bag in middle of road! Morrisey does not believe in paragraphs or punctuation, reeling against his mid 70's state education with a languid verbosity. He disenfranchises the north in one fell swoop of the keyboard, never to return, but always to dwell. Sad tales told with the weight of a wet dog from the sewers "…these were times when…" he writes of the Smith's early sparkle "a personal music collection read as private medical records." Any student of the Smiths knows how Marr stopped by Morrisey's house and was vastly impressed by his music collection. That early collection of rare Motown inspired the music of the band, the look and the ideas to come. We also get early glimpses of humour. Morrissey had an early career scraping human waste off surgeon's scrubs. He flunks an interview at Sounds magazine, despite his encyclopaedic music knowledge, and botches an interview at the local blue rinse shop when he can't differentiate between a wig and real hair! The Smith's years are fascinating and probably the best bit to read. The ensuing 50 page diatribe from the court case where Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce attempt to claim royalties for the band's work from Marr and Morrissey is reaction I've read for some time. Morrissey does not share with others. All sympathy is lost through this tedious read. If ever an editor was needed - how soon really is now for this? Speaking of which, I hope Sandie Shaw, or relatives of, are not reading it lest they find his icy distaste for her version of the song. But, not all is the chiding of ol' misery-guts. There is the surprisingly tender revelations about relationships such as Jake Walters and Tina Dehghani and even sweeter reflections on family members. Sad but true - Kirsty MacColl sends a postcard from her holiday in Mexico, where she goes on his recommendation, only a few days before her tragic death, killed by a speedboat whilst diving with her sons. "I never found love from one, I instead find it from thousands". Anyone who's been to a Morrissey concert is in on the self-adoration jokes. They get it. Yet his lyrics and music continue to define parts of our lives, they soundtrack our feelings, our loves, our desires. A pity that they can't do this for the man himself.


  1. Morrissey has a girlfriend and it's not Tina.

  2. Tina Dehghani was one personality in Morrissey’s life – not necessarily a recent girlfriend.

    1. Tina was never his girlfriend.

  3. Further to above - readers might be interested in Bilboard Magazine's article:
    10 key takeaways from Moz's tell-all, from his feelings about the Smiths and his first serious relationship to that time he was almost on "Friends."

    It will save you actually reading the book - though I have to say that you can't truly comment until you've read it.

  4. PS Groove is always interested in your opinion feel free to leave your own review of any book you see on this blog. Please be objective, critical and fair, and of course, respectful to others.
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