Weird, mental, pretentious…sublime: this is the best thing I’ve seen in years

From the age of 13 until 21, Steven Patrick Morrissey from Davyhulme, Manchester was my hero. For me, The Smiths were the greatest band that ever lived and my teenage years are forever entwined with their poetry, art and sublime Rickenbacher-driven chords. Morrissey was the inspiration behind my becoming a vegetarian, the kitchen sink dramas he championed marked my teenage years indelibly and his Wildean wit was my guiding light.

Since those days, my relationship with Morrissey has been up and down like a boy racer in a souped up motor on an Essex high street. His first post-Smiths album, Viva Hate, remains his best solo album by many country miles. Sadly, alongside the poignant genius of songs like Late Night, Maudlin Street and Suedehead lurked a depressing ode to xenophobia, Bengali In Platforms. The first time I heard it – on the cassette I’d rushed home from the shop with on the day of its release – was like being punched in the face unexpectedly by your best friend. My family is from Bangladesh, I was born there and here was my idol telling us to “Shelve your Western plans…life is hard enough when you belong here.”

While I eventually decided to put that patronising racist bollocks down as a misguided attempt at a profound state of the nation observation, this was my first taste of the hard life lesson that your heroes are never perfect. Morrissey was no longer up on a pedestal but back down at ground level with the rest of us. His fallibility was confirmed by his dire solo career. While he’s occasionally hit some peaks – Now My Heart Is Full is one of the greatest songs of all time – the duds far outweigh the diamonds. However, as the man himself has noted, the word is full of crashing bores. And Morrissey absolutely refuses to be one of them.

I love that this man stands firm behind what he believes and that there is no-one else like him on the planet. I love his fearless cheer-leading and trouble-making for vegetarianism and animal rights, his abhorrence of the royal family and his insightful disdain for the idiocy of politicians. He’s a clear-eyed specialist in telling truth to power, a master of belly laughter in the dark, a thorn in the side of wankers and hypocrites. Long may he create art and prosper, long may he surprise us and make us laugh. Long may he continue to give us unique and brilliantly pretentious meditations on what it means to be human, like the masterpiece above.

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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