Why (despite everything) we still love Morrissey

The Smiths alum turns 64 today and, despite his recent outbursts of acid opinion and spotty records, despite being despised by labels and some having deemed his career to be on the cliff edge, he continues to perform. to be a unique and extraordinary creature: the artist who shakes up the establishment like few others.

Morrissey seems to be confined to his room in front of the mirror and with the radio at a shrill volume . He dances awkwardly, stares aimlessly, moves awkwardly, doesn’t control space, punches the air with a bouquet of flowers, lip-syncs a song that will soon become a radio hit, dresses in a T- loose shirt and black pants as glamorous as those of the cashier who takes care of you at the bank.

It looks like the scene of any teenager miming in his room, sheltered from the outside world and reproducing the tics of his idol, but no: Moz is in full 1983 in the British series. top pops, introducing his band The Smiths to the whole country with the single This charming man.

It was the first massive image England – and strictly speaking, the planet – had of the singer, who turns 64 today. And it was a shock, a sequence so far as magnetic as confusing. Accustomed to the athletic savagery of Mick Jagger and the choreographic ambiguity of David Bowie, the public saw that evening about twenty break with the usual patterns of the rock star, who bore little resemblance to the overpowered, infallible artists, confident of themselves, the testosterone and the telegenesis that had dominated the scene.

For the rest, his band bore the surname of the people, the most repeated in all birth records in England, that of the middle and lower classes. . “I thought it was a good formula to give yourself the most banal name possible, since it was time for the ordinary people of this world to show themselves”, he justified himself much later.

As well as the presentation of the Beatles in 1964 in the American star The Ed Sullivan Show frame forever the nature of the quartet -the image of the ingenious and full of vitality youth is intimately linked to this Big Bang of pop culture-, the singer had his most eloquent statement of principles in this televised baptism of the early 80s.

no sex

Then came The Smiths records whose covers featured black-and-white photos, bare torsos and not-so-cute people. as a way to herald songs of deep melancholy, twisted romanticism, teenage existentialism, and a disbelieving look at what the news has reported. Everything seemed to oppose the glamor of yachts, models, catwalks, incombustible parties and the infinite frivolity propagated by English groups like Roxy Music or Duran Duran; the Smiths, to further underscore the distances, didn’t even charge for overly flashy videos.

Morrissey hated the fashionable pop of his time – his confrontations with the other great titan of those years, Robert Smith of The Cure, are legendary – and for this he used a strategy which was also a feat: in interviews, at the time of citing influences and idolatries, of talking about his background as a composer and his genealogy as an artist, he avoided the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who or David Bowie, the great beacons of the British songbook, to place themselves in a time long before rock, in names that weren’t even musicians, like Oscar Wilde, or James Dean and the great dandies of classic cinema. He elevated them all far above the untouchable deities of popular music.

With all of this, Morrissey established himself as a provocateur who touched the administration’s ear, the polemicist who shook up the obvious, even in terms that weren’t just musical. In the 1980s, pop’s most sexualized era to date, with Prince expelling moans from his early albums or Madonna eroticizing her music videos to declare female empowerment, he took the more unusual alternative. He declared himself celibate, asexual, a rarity without an intimate life.

“I don’t have a social life, I don’t need it. I live quietly in solitude. Pleasure is an artificial construct, and if you don’t have a sex life (and I don’t at all) it’s impossible to deal with people, because people only talk about sex,” he said years later.

Even his option was even more extreme. At a time when major pop icons were also starting to tout their gayness as a flag of struggle or just another resource for their songs (Boy George, George Michael, Jimmy Somerville), Moz called for them to be removed as well. from this list: he was not gay either and they had no reason to compare him to personalities who had succeeded in this group.

Anyway, Morrissey, long before Nirvana and the grunge deities, had created the alternate hero.

indifference never

His credo followed a similar path in his early solo years in the 1990s, in a discourse that grew alongside big records, smash hits and lyrics that continued to tackle the unfathomable corners of the small condition. human like few others; In other words, no one could accuse him of being a simple sniper with easy headlines, a poisonous opinologist or a monster with excessive ambitions for notoriety.

Today, the singer has chosen to give almost only interviews by email – it is known and understood: he hates human contact – but despite everything, his words open more debates and stimulate reflection than anyone else. what other artist who counts hours talking with journalists and repeating again and again promotional axioms dictated by their press officers.

In recent years it has become even more false like a hurricane that claims victims indiscriminately, caricatured as a grumpy old man who sees a lot of gray in the feminist movement, who shoots against the immigration that invades Europe and who hates the new generations of stars, calling them mere puppets of the industry, flat, nondescript puppets like Ed Sheeran, or stars who, in his words, are more like “a lock of hair,” as he described Justin Bieber.

In all this bravado, clearing the forest to leave only the essentials, he is right. . For example, he has shown himself to be a staunch enemy of crowdfunding, this collective financing system in which artists ask their fans to contribute financially in order to be able to release albums, undertake tours or put on big shows.

The former The Smiths frowns and shakes his cheek when someone reminds him of these platforms: “By going to concerts or buying our records, the public has already given us enough money. What’s the next thing we’re going to ask them? ? Shall we brush our teeth?

REUTERS/Toby Melville

At 64, Steven Patrick Morrissey continues to fascinate pop culture and the music scene, Sometimes so prefab, predictable and correct, numbed by vapid awards, misleading records and effervescent hit artists.

His mannerisms, his phrases, his darts, his words irritate, disturb, amaze or amaze, they never end in the indifference he hated since he was a teenager, perhaps since that first big TV appearance that shocked the English.

He himself is clear about this and invites you to choose: “When you hear my name, you always have only two options: either you love me or you vomit.”

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Source: Latercera

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