I have spent the last few days listening to quite a lot of Morrissey and The Smiths. Seeing as how this week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums of all time, The Queen is Dead, I felt I should write about my love for Morrissey.
I have been a Morrissey fan ever since I met my first boyfriend. I would go over to his house and we’d sit in his bedroom and listen to the first Smiths album, and sometimes we’d cry together. (Yes, he turned out to be gay and left me for a boy.) He educated me about a lot of amazing music, but I really fell in love with Morrissey and The Smiths.
Morrissey spent a lot of time alone reading books, just like I did. We both thought Oscar Wilde was a genius, and we both thought we were unloveable. I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside. If I had ever thought of getting a tattoo at age 17, I am pretty sure it would have said that. (I am glad I never got this tattoo though) Things change as you get older…that being said, here is my interpretation of the Five Stages of Morrissey fandom.
When you first encounter Morrissey, you’re a teenager (if you’re lucky). Teenagers feel things so much more deeply than anyone else in the world. I would hear Morrissey’s songs and they would speak to me in such powerful ways. I was an outsider and a loner, and so was he. It was terribly romantic to picture him as a Byronic figure, standing on the windswept moors, with a tear running down his cheek. Only he understood the pain of living. Only he could rescue me from that pain.
Morrissey is known for making good sound bites. He has often gotten himself into trouble for saying things that have been misconstrued. Back in the 80’s, he gave a good quip. I remember that he said things like “Long hair is an unpardonable offense which should be punishable by death.” (Later, I discovered this photo of him as a lad with very long hair…haha!) He also loved to put down other pop stars of the time. He accused Robert Smith of The Cure of being a “whingebag”. Robert Smith replied by saying that, “If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat; that’s how much I hate Morrissey.” (Not that Robert Smith is an angel – I remember that he said he wanted to see George Michael hung by the neck – I can’t find the exact quote but you get the idea.)
During this phase, the young Morrissey fan will educate him or herself by reading loads and loads of Oscar Wilde, Byron, Shelley, Keats, etc. etc. Every word that passes the lips of a Morrissey fan in this stage is either a quote, an epigram, or a witticism of their own invention. This becomes very tedious for their friends, if they should happen to have any.
This phase ends when the fan reads A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, and ends up highlighting every line that ended up in a Morrissey song. Finding out that Morrissey has plagiarized and taken on loan creates an overwhelming sense of disillusionment, which is immediately internalized and forgotten so that you can continue to listen to Morrissey and not feel like the world is crashing around you.
I personally have never gone through this phase, because when it comes to food I am unable to deny myself. Well, I do eat a lot less meat than I used to, but that’s just out of necessity due to not having any money. Also, there are all sorts of nasty diseases caused by toxic meat, and also I happened to read Fast Food Nation, which is The Jungle of the 21st Century. If you don’t know what The Jungle is, click here.
However, the young Morrissey fan who first hears Meat is Murder may become inclined to eschew meat, leather, dairy, eggs, and all of those things that are made from animals. The Morrissey acolyte will also make sure to let everyone within hearing know that they are eating the decayed flesh of an animal that once had a face, or some such similar lecture. This phase will either continue until the person becomes a vegan, or it will end once their family cooks up a barbecue.
I did see Morrissey at Coachella in 2009, and he could smell the barbecued meat coming from a nearby food vendor. He left the stage for a moment, declaring, “I smell burning flesh…I hope to God it’s human.”
4. Death Wish
It’s inevitable. If you are listening to Morrissey, eventually your thoughts will dwell upon your eternal slumber. For someone that has written so many songs about suicide, Morrissey sure does persist in staying alive. Still, there is nothing like listening to endless litanies about how things would be so much better if you were dead. I used to listen to Asleep before I went to sleep, which is a song about killing yourself and/or dying in your sleep. NITEY NITE! SWEET DREAMS! Yes, I had issues. (Still do) It’s terribly romantic to think of your funeral, and all of the people who would be there in tears, wishing they had been nicer to you while you were alive. (Ah, youth!) This is the phase in which I should have gotten that tattoo I mentioned earlier.
Once you’re grown up, and you’ve become a clever swine, Morrissey might lose some of his allure. The golden god may tarnish a bit and you might forget about him altogether. If you forget about Morrissey, I hope you enjoy your corporate sycophantic life, because you are dead inside. As long as you have a little affection for the Mozzer, you will continue to question reality. When you’re listening to Morrissey and The Smiths during this phase, you will think back on all of those nights you spent crying into your cat’s fur and smile fondly. What fools we all were in those days, ah what fun to write your suicide note in longhand while tears splashed the page! Is it weird to feel nostalgia for crippling depression? I am not sure. All I can say is that back in the late 80’s, Morrissey already knew how we were going to feel about him in the future, so he wrote a song about it.
Listen below to Rubber Ring, and remember that Morrissey is in the corner of your room, holding a torch.
When you’re dancing and laughing, and finally living, hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly…do you love me like you used to?