"Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime." Quite right too. There is something special about Morrissey. First there is his inimitable voice, keening and weeping and burrowing into the memory. There are his lyrics, which veil but do not shroud some of our deepest insecurities behind the smoke of a fatalist humour. There is his guitar hero dream-team collaboration with Johnny Marr. A quiff and a love of animals complete the picture. A shame then that the man suspected of writing the quote above is Morrissey himself, ahead of his memoir due out later this year.
You see, the catalogue of his recent notable activities suggests that, great man though he is, our beloved Morrissey has rather gone off the rails that brought him there. In fact, I think he's trying to tear them up. He has invited accusations of racism, expressed UKIP sympathies and even rejected loveable Simon Armitage for a cat. The music does not seem as good as it was either.
Of course, it is probably not best practice to judge a book before it has even appeared. I could be inviting the sort of ridicule heaped upon the early reviewer who pronounced the Great Gatsby 'an absurd story'. But this is an opinion by which I am willing to stand.
Let's consider the context here. Firstly, one suspects that Morrissey's creative zenith lies in the past, and that is no bad thing. Those songs really take you back, don't they? For my parents that would be the Eighties. For me, the Easter holiday earlier this year when I engaged in a bit of a Smiths binge.
He speaks to us all. He made self-pity artistically respectable, funny and beautiful. That mercurial humour still sparkles from Morrissey, but as here on The One Show he increasingly seems to be playing to an audience of one. Nothing matters more than what Morrissey finds funny, no matter how smug, obscure or offensive everyone except Morrissey seems to find his current brand of humour. Are his recent pronouncements the stuff of great art?
Secondly, Morrissey appears to be trying to bounce Penguin into publishing his book as a classic. His book is not going to be a classic (see above). Either Morrissey knows that - in which case the 'classic' label is a genuinely hilarious joke and I will be first to snap up the book when it hits the shelves - or, horribile dictu, he believes it, in which case the book is likely to have all the humour and finesse of a statue produced by the Kim Jong-Il metallurgy factory for the glorification of the great leader. The literary greats of our canon might have loathed their words or suffered crippling self-doubts about the value of the work that later became classics. Fitzgerald, of course, died long before Gatsby was recognised as a seminal Great American Novel. But Morrissey is different, Morrissey KNOWS.
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