At the moment, I’m in the middle of reading Morrissey’s Autobiography. I’m not about to attempt a book review, although I will tell you that while the ones I read before I started were fairly scathing about Mozzer’s tendency for moaning, it’s not really bothering me (though I’m not exactly one to criticise where rants are concerned).
I bought the book the very morning it came out. Partly, admittedly, because I walked past a Waterstone’s and almost collided with a man leaving the shop with his nose already stuck in the newly purchased copy, which I obviously took as a clear sign from the universe. But also mainly just because, well… I love a bit of Moz.
On the surface of things that morning, I, the 21 year old leopard-print enthusiast, and this balding 40 something had little in common. But that’s the thing – the appeal of both The Smiths and Morrissey himself is practically universal to those of a melancholic disposition. Hence why decades since their 80s heyday, teenagers the world over are still moping around to the tune of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.
And despite the fact that he tends to come across as fairly…cantankerous, shall we say, it’s not just me; Morrissey has still found a special place in the hearts of millions, and inspired a following that belies his apparent contempt for most of humanity.
They say you shouldn't meet your heroes if you want to avoid disappointment, and Morrissey is probably in pole position in my most loved yet most unwilling to meet list. Just for starters, he’d no doubt be disgusted by my cavalier attitude towards chicken nuggets.
But actually, I’m more than content to remain very much out of his acquaintance, just as long as I can keep listening to his music. While I love the man himself - one of the most intelligent and articulate pop stars there’s surely ever been – it’s the songs he's penned which will always remain a landmark discovery of my adolescent years, and ones that I’ll still be listening to for many years to come.
So although this is a virtually impossible task, I decided to whittle down the lengthy list of my favourite Morrissey tracks, and why they happen to mean something to me, to the following...
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Not a blindingly original choice, I know. But I can still remember the first time I ever heard this song, and the way the lyrics, ‘In my life, why do I give valuable time, to people who don’t care if I live or die?’, jumped out at me as if Morrissey and I were the only ones to ever think such a thing - as moody introspective teens are wont to do. This song encapsulates the kind of existential angst that teenagers are particularly adept at (and I still am at times...) – looking for a job and finding a job, and yet still being miserable, being happy in the haze of a drunken hour…and afterwards, yep, still miserable! The song for anyone who ever occasionally feels like kicking ‘someone in the eye’.
I Know It’s Over
The kind of song that really earns Morrissey his miserable reputation. If you’re having a sad single bastard day, ‘And as I climb into an empty bed…oh well. Enough said’ will probably strike the right note. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good wallow, and if that’s what you’re after, with lyrics like ‘If you’re so very entertaining/ Then why are you on your own tonight?’, look no further. But not just that – there is of course more to Morrissey than his melancholia, and the lyric ‘It's so easy to laugh/It's so easy to hate/It takes strength to be gentle and kind’ is just a small example of his (in my opinion, anyway) great wisdom.
I Won’t Share You
I've always loved this song and its unusual sound, which I don’t think I can ever recall coming across elsewhere, but recently, the lyrics themselves have become particularly pertinent. Call me a wanky English student, but poetry was never my strong suit, and it’s not exactly cryptic, so I think I can be forgiven. ‘I won’t share you,/ No I won’t share you/ With the drive and ambition/ The zeal I feel/This is my time.’ Your early twenties is as good a time as any for being fairly selfish - thinking about yourself and going after ‘the freedom and the guile’ instead of the ‘you’, whoever that may be, and that seems like the essence of this song.
Everyday is Like Sunday
If you’ve been following this blog closely (the likely two or three of you – thanks!) you’ll be aware that I love the seaside, which is what Morrissey talks about in this song. Though not exactly complimentary, and partly inspired by Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach, where a group of people are awaiting nuclear devastation, ‘Everyday is like Sunday/ Everyday is silent and grey', and ‘Share some greased tea with me’ are lyrics that are appropriate to a fair few British seaside towns, and even if they are grey, and nothing ever happens, ‘Trudging over wet sand’ is still one of my favourite things to do. Plus, it sounds amazing, and there’s something about it that means listening to it can still make me shiver. Seriously – play it loudly in your headphones, and thank me later.