Spotlight on This Charming Man

 

For some it might be a depressing prospect, even a drag, but for many this weekend’s two-day symposium on Stephen Patrick Morrissey will be a perfect chance to dwell on one of music’s true geniuses.

The event, The Songs That Saved Your Life (Again), in the University of Limerick today and tomorrow is expected to attract hundreds of Mozza fans from around Ireland, only days before the start of the Irish leg of his Years of Refusaltour.

The former Smiths lead singer, born to Irish parents in Manchester on May 22nd 1959, plays in Killarney on Tuesday, followed by gigs in Galway, Omagh and Belfast. He returns after gigs in Cork and Dublin last year.

The symposium, celebrating Morrissey’s 20-year solo career features 20 Irish and international speakers who will present papers examining all things SPM, including his iconic status amongst immigrant Latino fans in Los Angeles and his link with Italian popular culture.

A panel discussion will include Len Brown, author of the recent best-selling book ‘Meetings with Morrissey’. Brown has interviewed Morrissey more than any other journalist. After all the tortuous analysis, attendees will get what they want with an evening gig in Dolan’s Warehouse, by tribute band These Charming Men. The band has recently played at the Smiths Convention in Los Angeles.

The symposium is the brain child of Head of Sociology at UL, Dr Eoin Devereux, who said it was only event of its kind in the world. He told The Irish Timestoday that the idea emerged out of an "informal chat" last year with Professor Micheál O'Suilleabháin from the Irish Royal Academy of Music.

"I sort of half-joked about the idea of doing a seminar about Morrissey and we did a half day last year and were overwhelmed," he said.

“We had over 250 people attending. What was striking was fans had travelled from Estonia, Italy and the UK, from all over the world for a half-day even. I was astounded."

Dr Devereux said Morrissey was "one of the most significant lyricists and song writers of the 20th century" and said there was plenty of material for academics as well as music fans to get their teeth stuck into.

Asked if the star would turn up for the event he added: "I doubt it very much. My impression of Morrissey is that…he is pathologically shy and incredibly private, intense, shy individual and I would want to respect that.

"At the same time, if he knows about the event I’m sure he’s bemused at the idea of a university sitting around for two days taking about the significance of his work. I’m sure he’s flattered."