Morrissey was called the "Pope of Mope " in his youth for his songs (with The Smiths) often went into. His stunning new album is purporetdly about curing depression through music, any kind.
Many people appear to be discovering song all around the world due to their respective lockouts, and the appropriateness of the words. Far from being an obscure track, this is actually one of the greatest and most influential rock songs written. When something as upbeat and joyful as this is also this melancholic, you know you're in the presence of magic. An intensely intimate song, yet oddly a sing-along stadium anthem.
A morbid song about loneliness and death, yet romantically life-affirming. This is considered to be one of the greatest rock songs ever written, from an album (called "The Queen Is Dead") often considered to be on par with "The Joshua Tree" in the 1980s decade, by a band often considered in polls to be more significant than even The Beatles in Britain. The Smiths lasted just 5 years (1982-87) but influenced a generation of now-legends after them (from Jeff Buckley to Oasis to Radiohead to The National to name a few).
Many consider this song, from 1986, to be their biggest masterpiece. Morrissey was 27, Johnny Marr 23 when this song came into being - a testament to a time gone by, when such youthful expression could shake up new generations (as The Smiths did). The work of those two resident geniuses is obvious here - Marr's guitar-work and overall arrangements, and Morrissey's lyrics and vocals, but Andy Rourke's bass and Mike Joyce's drums also rise to that same level in as near-perfect a rock song can be.
As Johnny Marr said about the recording of this - "We only played it a few times, no-one had much to say – there’s serenity after you’ve done something like that. We knew we’d done something pretty special." (The first studio take is in the first comment; highly recommended.)
That very rare rock song about ageing, from a 60-year-old misunderstood legend. One of the highly discernible things about racism, bigotry and the "far right" is a distinctly lower level of compassion, humanism and indeed, intelligence. It follows that an artist accused of being those things is highly unlikely to be able to produce work that has the latter qualities in droves - even such a fundamental connection has escaped the echo-chamber journalists of our times, and their lazy readers.
Thankfully, this artist continues to make a mockery of them. (The album "I Am Not A Dog On A Chain" is available everywhere, as it should be).
One final time, this is the entire landmark album by Morrissey that released mid-march, right in the middle of the Covid crisis. It is landmark because of its depiction of the highly polarised world both this album and Covid were born into.
Very little in the entire history of rock has accomplished this level of clear-eyed depiction along with a larger humanism. And with this kind of diversity. Perhaps because of Morrissey's bitter personal experiences of being labelled and hounded by the "liberal" intelligentsia, there is a visceral pushback against this in many of the songs on this album, but along with that rage is also a distinct compassion. And the music by itself contradicts all there is to say against the labels he has been wrongly and idiotically ascribed based on the unimaginative and incomplete assessment by that lot, with a vicious and deliberate misrepresentation being at play too.
If you're one of those who cannot listen to his music with an open mind because of that brainwashing, the loss is all yours. Too many people need to realise that it's not the music that needs to be good enough for them, but them who need to be worthy of the music. This is Morrissey's finest solo album of his career (by his own assessment as well) and for an artist who has been universally considered one of the greatest songwriters living for three decades, that should warrant a little extra attention, one would think.
Unlike the homogeneity of a lot of his solo work in the past, this one is extremely diverse - sonically engaging with the electronica ethos of its time yet maintaining his own rock aesthetic (and that inimitable voice still soaring magically), lyrically dealing with a great deal - political despair ("Love Is on Its Way Out "), suicide ("Jim Jim Falls"), chastity ("Darling, I Hug a Pillow"), social media and Wokeness ("Knockabout World"), unalloyed anger for so-called liberals ("I Am Not A Dog On A Chain"), contempt for the insular privileged ("What Kind of People Live In These Houses"), repressed homosexuality ("Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?"), transsexualism ("The Truth About Ruth"), deeply personal family memories ("I Saw the River Clean"), music as an antidote to depression ("The Secret of Music") and ageing ("My Hurling Days Are Done") - all with that legendary wit, and a distinctive soul.
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