I’d been looking forward to reading Morrissey’s much-anticipated Autobiography since the book was first announced. I had followed its progress incessantly. When Penguin decided to publish it under ‘classics,’ I gasped and smiled. I couldn’t wait to see the outrage clash with the celebratory glee (I am a bit of a silent troll). Our great lord and savior Morrissey rocked the boat yet again, this time in the most literary of fashions.
I counted down the days to October 17th, the book’s official release date. When that fateful day came, I naively scoured various bookstores, dismayed by the fact that I couldn’t find it. No one knew what the hell I was talking about. One man said I was too young to know about Morrissey. I scoffed.
When I finally arrived at the third bookstore, their help desk was finally helpful. The employee told me that the book was only published and available in the UK. My heart shattered.
“Oh,” my cheeks blushed. “Do you know when you will have it in?”
He shook his head apathetically while giving me the snarkiest, most-entitled glare. I tucked my tail between my legs and hurried out of the multi-floored store.
After weeks of coming home, tea in hand, to listen to You Are the Quarry incessantly and sob lightly over the fact that I was not in possession of the works of the great Morrissey, I finally read that Morrissey the Great would be releasing a US edition on December 4th.
AN EARLY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
When the day (well, technically the day after. Sorry, guys) came, I rushed back into the same bookstore where I had previously failed. I excitedly asked the help desk if they had the book. They handed it to me. I looked down, smiling ear to ear. It was as if God had cast down a ray of glimmering light on the picture of Morrissey’s wonderful face. Birds sang. Children laughed. Butterflies flew around me; one landed on my finger. I sang to it.
Well, you get the picture. I bought the book and went about my day.
“So why are you only writing this now if you’ve had the book for so long?” you must be thinking.
Well, life got in the way. But alas! I am here now, my loves. And if you have any wits about you, the moment you pick up his new book, Morrissey will be with you as well.
Morrissey’s Autobiography is a gripping, humorous, heartrending, and extravagant glimpse into the world of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. He takes us through the many stages of his life, from his early years to the days spent with The Smiths, from their illustrious career all the way to the band’s tumultuous end, from the rise of his solo career to his current state of being, finding surprising yet welcomed success in parts of the world he never knew would love him.
We see an insecure boy with great bravado and youthful innocence, bright-eyed and shining as he treks across Manchester to watch his favorite bands, kindly asking for autographs and pictures and slinking away if rejected.
We watch Moz fanatics ripping away at his clothes, causing riots, crying at the chance just to touch his hand. They viewed him as their own demi-god.
We stand in the back of the courtroom while Morrissey fights against his former friends, the other members of his pride and joy, The Smiths.
We follow the young Steven Patrick Morrissey as he wanders the desolate streets of 1970s Manchester, playing and wasting away in the ruins of the English town.
We see a life seeped in loneliness and despair mixed with the glitz and adoration of stardom.
When I first opened the book and read the cryptic opening line — “My childhood is streets upon streets upon streets upon streets” — I was immediately sucked into the world of Morrissey.
Steven Patrick Morrissey had a life with more than its fill of tragedy and heartbreak. Death follows him wherever he goes. Through the book, we watch him lose so many friends, both through death and self-inflicted isolation, yet we also see him catapulted to an almost unimaginable level of fame.
We learn, however, that popularity and adoration is not enough. Morrissey is constantly yearning for more. Never satisfied. He became an infamous rock star, but he is still distraught each time an album or a song doesn’t top the charts or get constant radio airplay, regardless of how many amphitheaters he sells out.
His work is biting. His hatred towards his former label for The Smiths, Rough Trade, is palpable. He bitterly describes The Smiths lawsuit with belittling and toxic descriptions of judge John Weeks, balking at publications, especially NME, for their “slanderous lies.” He is frustrated. He is mad. But are you surprised?
What is interesting is that Morrissey is self-aware. He understands that he can be insufferable. Extreme. Off-putting. He knows he is hard to work with. His arrogance is realized.
His admiration for Johnny Marr — whom he eventually parted ways with in an unsavory manner — is touching. “I didn’t ever want to go solo,” he quoted himself saying early on. “I thought The Smiths would run for at least thirty albums.”
He rants. He raves. He goes through waves of bitterness and acceptance. His words create a cocktail of cockiness and self-deprecation. But there is a wit to all that he says.
Through reading the book, it is clear that Morrissey is a poet. Sometimes, comically so. “A beacon of bacon with the wonder of Wonderloaf” is Morrissey’s perfect descriptor.
At times he takes himself so seriously that you can’t help but chuckle. But hey, that’s Morrissey.
The autobiography is full of dry, witty humor that occasionally catches you off guard. “’The riot ensued when Morrissey instructed the crowd to ‘come party,’ says a reliable newshound, to the on-the-spot camera, and the very idea of me ever sinking so low as to use the expression ‘come party’ makes me spray tonight’s toddy across the television screen.”
There is tragedy. The sheer weight of Morrissey’s loss and isolation is tangible. It seems his friends and family were plucked out of his hands one by one. There are cringe-worthy stories. Many feel slightly skewed, self-gratifying, and self-indulgent. But they are excused.
The American version of the autobiography unfortunately leaves out crucial information about Morrissey’s relationship with photographer Jake Owen Walters in the ’90s, downplaying their intimate bond. Although the book is wonderful without it, that component will forever be missed, backed with countrywide frustration.
To all those who love Morrissey, The Smiths, or the ever-expanding world of music, Morrissey’s Autobiography should be cherished. Through his ups and his downs, Morrissey finds himself in what he loves — his music — and taking the exuberant and at times frustrating journey through Morrissey’s life with him is an inviting treat.
Pick up your copy of Morrissey’s autobiography via Amazon.
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