Friday, January 27, 2017

Morrissey's Autobiography

You could never accuse Morrissey of not having a balanced - and unhealthy -  diet of grievances; he has  bags of chips on both shoulders.
Ever the misanthrope (‘I've come to wish you an unhappy birthday’), his Autobiography has a go at everything and anything from Manchester - especially its school system - to  record companies, marriage, the judiciary, and his old band mate Mike Joyce (dismissed as ‘not even qualified enough to be a nonentity’).  His reaction to the death of Neil Aspinall, former Beatles road manager and head of Apple, is particularly nasty. Those who know Morrissey’s lyrics will find many familiar themes here.

Despite his often tedious vitriol,  I would still thoroughly recommend this honest, opinionated, sometimes infuriating, mostly admirable book. Apart from the protracted, self-pitying account of the post-Smiths court case, his style is never less than engaging and his characters, unlike so many of the cardboard cut-outs that litter the literary landscape, are made of real flesh and blood. The descriptions of his intensely Irish family are especially memorable and the short section dealing with the death of his beloved grandmother would move a heart of stone. In the proverbial nutshell, Autobiography is exceptionally well-written.
I found the pages dealing with his solo career much more interesting than those devoted to The Smiths. He has many striking things to say about the exhilaration of performing (“…. having never found love from one, I find it from thousands…’) but also emphasises the artist’s responsibility to his/her audience. I can’t, incidentally, understand his idolatry of the New York Dolls, or the 'winsome' Damien Dempsey (who 'captivates and enchants with all the love of one blessed and unselfish') but, as the man said, it takes all sorts.
Finally, I have to say –  as someone with only lukewarm affection for the music of Morrissey and The Smiths – that Autobiography  has resuscitated my interest to the extent of going back and listening to their albums again.


Anonymous Mark Conroy said...

I read, I think, the first 5 pages of this (never one to judge a book by its cover, me!), and thought - if the rest of the book is going to be as self-indulgent, I'll just pick up one of those books on the locker I've been meaning to finish.

Ah, Midnight's Children, how I've missed you. And One Hundred Years of Solitude, here you are again. Autobiography, you can continue to be a door stopper.

9:52 pm  

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