Much has been said in the press this week about Morrissey’s autobiography. The man himself is like Marmite; you love him or hate him.
Or do you? Are you in fact like me? You loved The Smiths. Had all their albums. Quoted his lyrics to friends and lovers. But then, when The Smiths were no more, you moved on. You knew the Morrissey/Marr combo would never be equalled. So you left it there. Happy memories. Poignant memories.
That was me. I never saw The Smiths live but I did years later see Morrissey at the Brighton Centre. He was everything I thought he would be. Witty and charismatic. But I wasn’t blown away. There was some weird detachment that I felt. Like he was in a forcefield. Untouchable. Unlovable…
Like George Michael, he has become a parody of himself. He seems to believe in his own genius. That he will go down in history alongside Yeats and Wilde. Why else would he insist that his autobiography would only be published by Penguin Classics?
Maybe the problem is to be found in middle-age. If he had died at 27 – like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse – he would have been preserved in rock and roll aspic. But, as a 54 year old man, with houses all over the world, who’s made some outrageous, hateful statements, who puts animals above humans, he does not have enough distance or perspective or self-awareness to write a balanced memoir. But then who does? Maybe it is better to leave it to the biographers.
‘Autobiography’ lies on our kitchen table. I look at the cover – a beautiful image – but I can’t open the book. I am happy to leave The Smiths where they are, a certain moment in my history. I don’t need to know the gory details, the recriminations, the self-justifications. I have the albums and that’s enough.
‘Brilliant one minute, petulant the next, Morrissey’s autobiography is as maddening as the man himself’ – Stuart Maconie, The Guardian
I know I shouldn’t comment until I’ve read the book. And maybe I will. But I have read Alan Partridge’s autobiography, ‘I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan’, and loved it. But, then, Alan is fictional.
PS. If you haven’t yet done it, try this quiz:
And finally, ‘remember, there’s more to life than books you know…’