Heaven knows he’s still miserable now: Morrissey publishing shock (not)

Regarding Mozzer memoirs, don’t begrudge a book by its cover


Where will you be Wednesday, October 16th at midnight? Actually, you may not have any choice in the matter, as we’ve already been told we will be tremulously queuing up outside a bookshop (if we can find one) waiting to get our clammy hands on a hot-off-the-presses copy of Morrissey’s autobiography.

It’s apparently the “publishing event of the decade” with “Harry Potter-style pandemonium due to break out in bookstores”. Sadly, Autobiography will not be the former, while the latter is just typical publishing PR rubbish.

We already know what’s going to be in the book for the simple reason that Morrissey, contrary to received wisdom, is the most open and transparent lyricist going. He has long given us every single blow-by-blow (pun intended) detail of his life through his songs.

As Morrissey put it himself so many years ago, he will “walk right up to the microphone and name all the things he loves and all the things he loathes”. The former shouldn’t take long: Patti Smith, The New York Dolls and Iggy Pop at a push. The loathing stuff will make up the remaining 99 per cent of the text.

Still, you really should support Morrissey and buy the book for the sole reason that once, after TV host Richard Madeley called him an “insufferable prat” for his rigorous stance on animal rights, Mozzer replied: “that’s a bit rich coming from a man who actually married his own mother”. Such a poetic slap-down of the village TV idiot must be encouraged. It’s even better than his line on Suede’s Brett Anderson: “He’ll never forgive God for not making him Angie Bowie”.

The first people in Autobiography to get the full-bore treatment will be the good folk of Manchester. Morrissey has never forgiven them for calling him a “Paddy”, and not with affection, during his early years. (He covers this topic somewhat in Irish Blood, English Heart.)

Second up will be the Manchester’s educational authorities. Morrissey once told me he was still thinking of suing them for the “damage” they inflicted on him. He explains all this on The Headmaster Ritual: “Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools” etc.

His miserable teenage years will be played out to maximum melancholic effect. After all, he did only form The Smiths after “walking home alone in the rain too many times”. This era is chronicled in How Soon Is Now and, for his early teen years, in Late Night, Maudlin Street.

Onto The Smiths’ first record contract, with the seminal indie label Rough Trade. That didn’t end well (what does with Morrissey?), but it’s all there on Frankly Mr Shankly. Will he mention that he wanted Linda McCartney to play keyboards on the track?

The Smiths splitting up? See Break Up the Family. His personal relationships? The entire Vauxhall and I album. His real feelings about Johnny Marr? Pick and choose from Angel, Angel and Billy Budd.

There you have it in the main, but the manuscript also contains (it is believed) Exocet missiles for Bono and Bob Geldof. Just don’t contrive any sense of shocked surprise by how many people Morrissey tracks down and skewers slowly. Or how vituperatively he goes about his task. As he told us in his lyrics years ago: “I bear more grudges than lonely high court judges.”

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