Morrissey A-Z: 'Alma Matters'

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
Day 3... Today’s alphabetical tune is 'Alma Matters' from Maladjusted.
Despite being my least favourite Morrissey album, I still regularly spin 'Alma...' (along with the title track and 'Satan...'). I think it’s got a great keyboard melody, which helps to disguise the normal Whyte fare. The chorus is golden too. My one criticism would be its length: it’s just far too long, with lots of needless key changes and repetitions tacked on at the end. There are many places where it could easily fade out and be a much better song for it.
Anyway, I digress. What do you think? (Good video by the way)
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
When this song was released it got a bit of airplay on Radio 1, but I remember one of the DJs asking, "When is this song going to end???" A fair question as it ought to have been 3 minutes long. When Morrissey appeared on Top of the Pops, they very sensibly cut it to around that length.

It's semi-likeable, but the lyrics are very vague and I think it's a second tier single.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
(I just noticed... Didn't we skip over All The Young People Must Fall In Love yesterday?)
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
That had never occurred to me before, as being the reason why I find this song so impossible to love: it's just too bloody long. (Whereas there are dozens of Morrissey songs I wish were a little longer.) Yes, it's a half decent vocal melody but for me it never sparkles, it never soars, it never really springs to life. The lyrics do nothing for me, either! But, given how often he plays it live, Morrissey himself seems very attached to it.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I'd definitely agree that it's too long, otherwise it would have been a very radio friendly, almost mainstream sounding single, because it's so easily accessible - and something tells me that's the precise reason Morrissey lets it go on for almost 5 minutes.

Another song that is carried mostly by the vocal melody. Lots of fun to sing along with.

The lyrics are... a bit cryptic. Morrissey once gave an explanation which he retracted later on:

"Well... it really does mean something specific. I think it means that we should be pleased and proud of the female side of our character, of our nature. Or if we're female, we should be proud of the male side of our character and give it just as much import as the other side. So, everything's fine, it doesn't matter how you behave."

But it made me wonder about the lines

"Alma matters in mind
body and soul
in part and in hole"

Why is it "hole"? Not "whole"? In connection with his explanation about embracing our female/male sides etc, which "parts" is he actually talking about? I feel like the whole lyric is some kind of in-joke that you can't get unless you're inside Morrissey's mind and that "Alma" is merely a placeholder for something else. (Besides the obvious Alma matters/Alma mater pun.)

The reason why he's become so fond of singing it live in recent years seems rather obvious to me: The choices he has made may seem wrong (or strange) to us, but it's his life to ruin his own way...

The video is one of his greatest. Sexy as hell as well.
 
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This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
That had never occurred to me before, as being the reason why I find this song so impossible to love: it's just too bloody long. (Whereas there are dozens of Morrissey songs I wish were a little longer.) Yes, it's a half decent vocal melody but for me it never sparkles, it never soars, it never really springs to life. The lyrics do nothing for me, either! But, given how often he plays it live, Morrissey himself seems very attached to it.
For me, it might be the warm atmosphere of the keys and shimmering guitars in the chorus that really make it - the verses aren't really as strong, melodically, as these parts of the track.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
Was hoping I could avoid posting the whole list on here, to save people from having to scroll over it. Spoiler doesn't work either because it removes all the breaks.

Action Is My Middle Name
All The Lazy Dykes
All The Young People Must Fall In Love
All You Need Is Me
Alma Matters
Alone Again (Naturally)
Alsatian Cousin
Ambitious Outsiders
America Is Not The World
Ammunition
Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together
Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?
Art-Hounds
Asian Rut
At Amber
At Last I Am Born
Back On The Chain Gang
Because Of My Poor Education
Bengali In Platforms
Best Friend On The Payroll
Billy Budd
Black Cloud
Black-Eyed Susan
Blue Dreamers Eyes
Bobby, Don't You Think They Know?
Born To Hang
Boxers
Boy Racer, The
Break Up The Family
Brow Of My Beloved
Bullfighter Dies, The
By The Time I Get To Wherever I'm Going
Certain People I Know
Children In Pieces
Christian Dior
Come Back To Camden
Cosmic Dancer
Dagenham Dave
Darling, I Hug A Pillow
Days Of Decision
Dear God Please Help Me
Dial-a-Cliché
Disappointed
Do Your Best And Don't Worry
Don't Interrupt The Sorrow
Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice
Drag The River
Drive-In Saturday
Driving Your Girlfriend Home
Earth Is The Loneliest Planet
East West
Edges Are No Longer Parallel, The
El Cóndor Pasa
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Fantastic Bird
Father Who Must Be Killed, The
First Of The Gang To Die
Forgive Someone
Found Found Found
Friday Mourning
Ganglord
Get Off The Stage
Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel, The
Girl Least Likely To
Glamorous Glue
Good Looking Man About Town
Hairdresser On Fire
Happy Lovers At Last United
Harsh Truth Of The Camera Eye, The
Have-A-Go Merchant
He Cried
He Knows I'd Love To See Him
Heir Apparent
Hold On To Your Friends
Home Is A Question Mark
Honey, You Know Where To Find Me
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
Human Being
I Am Hated For Loving
I Am Not A Dog On A Chain
I Am Two People
I Bury The Living
I Can Have Both
I Couldn't Understand Why People Laughed
I Didn't Know What To Do
I Don't Mind If You Forget Me
I Have Forgiven Jesus
I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
I Knew I Was Next
I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday
I Know Very Well How I Got My Name
(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden
I Like You
I Thought You Were Dead
I Will See You In Far-Off Places
I Wish You Lonely
I'd Love To
If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look At Me
I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now
I'm Not A Man
I'm Not Sorry
I'm OK By Myself
I'm Playing Easy To Get
(I'm) The End Of The Family Line
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
In The Future When All's Well
In Your Lap
Interesting Drug
Interlude
Irish Blood, English Heart
Israel
Istanbul
It Happens Every Time
It's Hard To Walk Tall When You're Small (new)
It's Hard To Walk Tall When You're Small (old)
It's Not Your Birthday Anymore
It's Over
I've Changed My Plea To Guilty
Jack The Ripper
Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage
Jim Jim Falls
Journalists Who Lie
Judy Is A Punk
Julie In The Weeds
Kick The Bride Down The Aisle
Kid's A Looker, The
King Leer
Kiss Me A Lot
Kit
Knockabout World
Lady Willpower
Last Of The Famous International Playboys, The
Late Night, Maudlin Street
Lazy Sunbathers, The
Lenny's Tune
Let Me Kiss You
Let The Right One Slip In
Life Is A Pigsty
Lifeguard On Duty
Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning
Little Man, What Now?
Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets
Loop, The
Lost
Love Is On Its Way Out
Lover-To-Be
Lucky Lisp
Maladjusted
Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed
Margaret On The Guillotine
Mexico
Michael's Bones
Moon Over Kentucky
Moonriver
Morning Starship
Mountjoy
Munich Air Disaster 1958
Mute Witness
My Dearest Love
My Hurling Days Are Done
My Insatiable One
My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye
My Love Life
My Love, I'd Do Anything For You
National Front Disco, The
Neal Cassady Drops Dead
Never Again Will I Be A Twin
Never-Played Symphonies, The
No One Can Hold A Candle To You
Nobody Loves Us
Noise Is The Best Revenge
Nothing Rhymed
November Spawned A Monster
Now I Am A Was
Now My Heart Is Full
Oboe Concerto
Oh Phoney
Oh Well, I'll Never Learn
On The Streets I Ran
Once I Saw The River Clean
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
One Of Our Own
Only A Pawn In Their Game
Operation, The
Ordinary Boys, The
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Our Frank
Papa Jack
Pashernate Love
People Are The Same Everywhere
Piccadilly Palare
Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness
Pregnant For The Last Time
Public Image, The
Reader Meet Author
Redondo Beach
Roy's Keen
Safe, Warm Lancashire Home
Satan Rejected My Soul
Satellite Of Love
Scandinavia
Seasick, Yet Still Docked
Secret Of Music, The
Shame Is The Name
Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear
Sing Your Life
Sister I'm A Poet
Skin Storm
Slum Mums, The
Smiler With Knife
Some Say I Got Devil
Something Is Squeezing My Skull
Song From Under The Floorboards, A
Sorrow Will Come In The End
Sorry Doesn't Help
Southpaw
Speedway
Spent The Day In Bed
Spring-Heeled Jim
Staircase At The University
Street Life
Striptease With A Difference
Subway Train
Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference
Suedehead
Suffer The Little Children
Sunny
Swallow On My Neck, A
Sweetie-Pie
Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils, The
Teenage Dad On His Estate
That's Entertainment
That's How People Grow Up
The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
There Speaks A True Friend
There's A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends
This Is Not Your Country
This Song Doesn't End When Its Over
To Give (The Reason I Live)
To Me You Are A Work Of Art
Tomorrow
Tony The Pony
Trash
Treat Me Like A Human Being
Trouble Loves Me
Truth About Ruth, The
Used To Be A Sweet Boy
We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
Wedding Bell Blues
We'll Let You Know
What Kind Of People Live In These Houses?
Whatever Happens, I Love You
When Last I Spoke To Carol
When You Close Your Eyes
When You Open Your Legs
Who Will Protect Us From The Police?
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself
Wide To Receive
Will Never Marry
World Is Full Of Crashing Bores, The
World Peace Is None Of Your Business
Yes, I Am Blind
You Have Killed Me
You Know I Couldn't Last
You Must Please Remember
You Say You Don't Love Me
You Should Have Been Nice To Me
You Were Good In Your Time
You'll Be Gone
Youngest Was The Most Loved, The
You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side
You're The One For Me, Fatty
You've Had Her
Thanks for this. If I copy everything and put it on a document, you should be able to delete the comment, so people don’t have to scroll over it.
 

Ben Budd

Well-Known Member
I'm not a musician, so I don't know how best to reference this, but whilst Alma Matters is probably too long, the "crashing" guitar solo section just before the last rendition of the chorus is absolutely magical possibly the highlight on the whole album.

Jesse's rendition on 25 Live is really good too, fair play to him.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I'm not a musician, so I don't know how best to reference this, but whilst Alma Matters is probably too long, the "crashing" guitar solo section just before the last rendition of the chorus is absolutely magical possibly the highlight on the whole album.

Jesse's rendition on 25 Live is really good too, fair play to him.
Agree on the solo part.

Hadn't listened to the album version in a while. The keyboard really is quite nice too. I think it would have been enough to just cut one of the chorus repetitions.

25 Live version is fab.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
I was confused by what it meant because I kept thinking of a university - but as a pun on Alma Mater (nurturing mother) - it's really just saying that nurturing matters.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I was confused by what it meant because I kept thinking of a university - but as a pun on Alma Mater (nurturing mother) - it's really just saying that nurturing matters.
Yes, that would be the most literal interpretation I suppose. It's possible that it's just simple as that but I think there's more to it. We probably will never find out though.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Yes, that would be the most literal interpretation I suppose. It's possible that it's just simple as that but I think there's more to it. We probably will never find out though.

I suppose it depends what's being nurtured - I'd have taken a guess that it was his songwriting, but it could also be about gender... or anything.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
Didn't Alain say he assumed it had something to do with Alma St?

Edit: Well, he didn't really say that. Just that he lived on Alma Rd at the time (is there an Alma Road in Kentish Town?)

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