Telegraph article: Why hardcore fans will always love Morrissey

Bit of a strange article that appeared in yesterday's Telegraph. The author takes a long time to say nothing new of note, although it is at least a plug for the new album. Among Ian Winwood's recent articles have included a piece which declared Green Day the best punk band of all time (which caused some raised eyebrows in the comments section), so make of that what you will. I was also left wondering how well he actually knew Morrissey's repetoire, describing him as the writer of 'such magnificent songs as I Know It’s Over, Death Of A Disco Dancer, Reader Meet Author, and Yes, I Am Blind'. Not that they're bad, but, you know, strange selection. Anyway, for whatever it's worth, pasted here because it's behind a paywall. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/a...ll-always-adore-morrissey-nothing-would-make/


Why hardcore fans will always love Morrissey: 'Nothing would make me turn my back on him'

Steven Patrick Morrissey's views on Englishness have made him the most divisive man in rock. Which only makes the faithful adore him more.
By Ian Winwood 19 March 2020 • 4:43pm


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Morrissey performing at Wembley Arena, March 14 2020 Credit: getty

On Saturday night at Wembley Arena, notions of social distancing are being kept to a minimum. In a large standing-area in front of the stage, hundreds of people cram against the safety barrier in a way that gives the venue’s security detail cause for concern. At times, such is the level of commotion that one could easily imagine that this is a concert by Slayer; only the fact that some in the audience are holding gladioli suggests that it’s not.
Towards the end of his 25-song set, Steven Patrick Morrissey removes his shirt and launches it into the front rows. Bedlam ensues; people are punched and choked. In the seconds it takes for the garment to be torn to pieces, one member of the audience deliberately bites another on the arm. Pathogen fever: contract it now.
With the world goosed in a way that recalls the Cuban Missile Crisis, tonight’s happening gathers together the reckless and the brave, the committed and a few that ought to be. In the men’s rooms, gents are spending longer at the sinks than they are at the stalls; clearly something is up.
But on the last weekend of live concerts for goodness knows how long, the man onstage seems determined to play the contrarian. As Morrissey whips the chord of his microphone around in the manner of a drunken lion tamer, an image appears on screens of him standing beside the spray-painted words You’ll Be Fine. The sleeve of his album You Are The Quarry is also re-imagined, as You Are The Quarantine, its author’s face obscured by a surgical mask.
But if anything is a match for the hard rain of a global pandemic, it’s Morrissey audience. In 2020, the singer’s core constituency is comprised of people who embody the music industry’s most misused term – fans. This is not merely a crowd, this is a body of women and men who are fanatics.

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Morrissey's new album, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain



Musically at least, it’s easy to hear why. Since his arrival onto the scene, in 1983, Morrissey – who this week issues I Am Not A Dog On A Chain, his 13th solo album – has perfected the vanishingly rare gift of communicating to his audience feelings of loneliness and longing that appear to have been cut by hand for each individual listener. Such glorious and artful introspection is not easily dislodged, and neither should it be.
Profound sexual doubt also features. “You without clothes, well I could not keep a straight face, me without clothes, well a nation turns its back and gags,” he sings on the masterful Late Night, Maudlin Street.
For the people here tonight, there is no argument that can be brooked against the music Morrissey makes, not even when it’s made by Morrissey. Scores of incautious comments and reams of articles headlined Big Mouth Strikes Again will not dissuade them of his singular gift.
Still, the 60-year old does seem determined to push to the limit everyday notions of separating the song from its singer. In response to the country’s shocking record on animal rights, he said that “you can’t help but feel that the Chinese people are a subspecies.” Generalising on behalf of you and me, he said that “everyone ultimately prefers their own race… does this make everyone racist?”

Armed only with a press card and a winning smile, I solicit the opinions of some of the people gathered in the aerated petri dish that is Wembley Arena. Trapped near a concession stall selling vegan hot dogs, Anne tells me that “I actually do agree with everything he’s saying lately, and I’m glad he speaks out.” She adds that “I didn’t think too much about what he was saying when I was younger, but I think about it more now that I’m older, and I like what he’s saying.”
“There’s nothing that he could do that would make me turn my back on him,” says Michael, a middle-aged and pleasantly tipsy fan, standing pint-in-hand in the arena’s corridors. “He’s a proper hero to me. I don’t necessarily agree with what he says, but the fact that he’s so principled means that I want to hear more from people like him.”
Morrissey’s utterances presently occupy more space in the imagination of the wider public than the music for which he is known. They certainly explain the vast number of empty seats inside Wembley Arena – entire sections unpopulated, tickets unsold rather than unused - and the ominous black curtain that hangs in front of the rear grandstand. For a performer who six years ago gathered 20,000 people at the 02 Arena, in London, the diminishment is acute.
Last year, Morrissey was widely (and wildly) criticised for wearing a badge of the far-right political party For Britain. Along with offering his support for the pan-handling Steven Yaxley-Lennon, he has described its leader, the Dublin-born Anne Marie Waters, as someone who “believes in British heritage, freedom of speech, and [who] wants everyone in the UK to live under the same law.” Alternatively, Nigel Farage described the party as the domain of “Nazis and racists.”

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Morrissey and Johnny Marr performing with The Smiths Credit: retna

“I know the media don’t want Anne Marie Waters and they try to smear her, but they are wrong and they should give her a chance,” Morrissey has said. “And they should stop accusing people who want open debate as being ‘racist’. As I said previously, the left has become right-wing and the right-wing has become left – a complete switch, and this is a very unhappy modern Britain.
“There is only one British political party that can safeguard our security. That party is For Britain,” he said.
I could go on. But stop me, oh oh oh stop me, stop me if you think that you’ve heard these ones before.
In the absence of an audience with Morrissey himself – I did ask, but these days he grants interviews only to his nephew – I spoke in person, by telephone, and via email to a dozen current and former supporters about their relationship to the man and his music. Helpful and kind, each contributor understood that today it is impossible to talk about the co-author of such magnificent songs as I Know It’s Over, Death Of A Disco Dancer, Reader Meet Author, and Yes, I Am Blind without reference to his more bracing pronouncements.

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Morrissey performing at Coachella in 2009 Credit: reuters

“I think that I have kept faith because I don’t think that a person’s politics are the be all and end all of their character,” believes Luca. “There are so many people who have meaningful friendships despite their considerable political differences. Famous examples of Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, or Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, come to mind.
“I think we’re becoming less and less tolerant of one another which is very dangerous… I think we should endeavor to be more charitable about our fellow countrymen,” he says.
Others are less phlegmatic. Ben Avison was once “fanatically obsessed with Morrissey” but has now divested his energy. In its place, he released the song Steven, Can We Talk? – “I can’t talk to my dad ‘cos he won’t understand, mum wishes he was another man” – in which, in the form of a letter, he explains that “Steven used to mean so much to me, but now your words just confuse me and make me sad. Please please can we talk?” All profits from the song are donated to the organisation Love Music Hate Racism.
“Morrissey talks about Britishness a lot, about British culture and British heritage, as if there’s some kind of permanent norm that needs to be preserved,” Avison says. “I find that a little bit problematic when it veers into the territory of saying that the only valid people in society are white people whose parents lived here for generations and generations, especially when he himself is the child of immigrants from Ireland.”
Ben is the only person to whom I spoke who has severed the cord that had connected him to Morrissey since his teenage years. Much more common was the response of Steve Bond, who via email said that “to me being a fan doesn’t mean we have to blindly subscribe to [his] ideas anymore than it means we should throw out his records in disagreement.

“It’s the same for any band or artist, I judge them on the music only. You keep making good records and I’ll keep listening irrespective of your beliefs or which way you vote,” he says.
But here’s the thing of it – Morrissey wants you to notice what he’s saying. Artists as alert as he is do not to say to journalists things such as “[dance music] is the refuge for the mentally deficient,” “Madonna is closer to organised prostitution than anything else,” or “the sorrow of the IRA Brighton bombing [in 1984] is that Thatcher escaped unscathed” without being aware of their currency. By equal measure, journalists do not hear these comments without the sound of trumpets parping in our ears.
Morrissey has been juggling for a long time with the kind of fire that is boiling the water in which he presently finds himself. During my first summer as a Londoner, in August 1992 I caught the tube to Finsbury Park to see the Mancunian play with Madness on the second date of the London band’s Madstock weekend. Proffering 20-quid for a ticket, I was told by the man at the box office that the headliners’ special guest was no longer part of the bill.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because he’s a wimp,” came the reply.
The previous day, Morrissey had met with a hostile response from some members of Madness’s audience after wrapping himself in a union flag thrown from the crowd while singing in front of a black and white picture of skinheads. It was the wrong place at which to be provocative; the performance was greeted with a deluge of bottles and coins.
“The 1992 show where he sang… draped in a union flag seems to have been a turning point,” the journalist Peter Paphides later wrote. “At the time, I was one of the few people in the music press who felt that Morrissey should have been given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was trying to make some arcane point about the nature of Britishness to a park full of Madness fans.
“In retrospect, though, it seems pretty clear that he was defying people to misunderstand him, fattening his persecution complex in the process, and intensifying his disciples’ love for him,” he said.
It worked. For the first time in the publication’s history, the New Musical Express – known colloquially as the New Morrissey Express – ran a five-page cover story that was critical of its subject. Written by Dele Fadele, the paper’s only reporter of colour, the feature concluded that Steven Patrick Morrissey was less an iconoclast and, at best, more a Little Englander plunging without care into turbulent waters.

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Morrissey and his band performing in Buenos Aires, 2012 Credit: epa

Andrew Collins, one of the NME’s reporters, remembered the discussion to publish the story as being “like a Cobra meeting for the government.” Speaking to Pat Long for his book The History Of The NME: High Times And Low Lives At The World’s Most Famous Music Magazine, he described the commotion as “like being on a real newspaper.”
The main piece of evidence in the NME’s prosecution of Morrissey was his song The National Front Disco. Released against a backdrop of far-right violence, its lyric tells the tale of a young man drifting away from the embrace of those who love him and into the arms of a nativist organisation. Why? Because he wants “the day to come sooner,” the day when it’s “England for the English.”
Heard today, it’s tempting to imagine that the character in the track is Morrissey himself. Consumed by notions of Britishness, and aligned to disreputable forces, his determination to say what others do not has drowned out everything else. It is for this reason that I Am Not A Dog On A Chain– by far his best album for years - will slip away unnoticed by all but a dwindling number of heavily-invested adherents.
I Am Not a Dog On a Chain by Morrissey is released on March 20 by BMG
 
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Comments

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
It would be interesting to know what Anne Marie is telling Moz, if he thinks everything in the media about her is a smear. Don't know why it doesn't strike the press as absurd that a 1st generation Irish immigrant & an Irish person are 'obsessed with notions of Britishness' & Britain's security.

Also - a persecution complex that deep is probably more about a mental illness than it is about getting press attention & I get a hint that the hacks are beginning to twig that & feel guilty about pretending he's in control of it.
 
A

andddddd

Guest
It would be interesting to know what Anne Marie is telling Moz, if he thinks everything in the media about her is a smear. Don't know why it doesn't strike the press as absurd that a 1st generation Irish immigrant & an Irish person are 'obsessed with notions of Britishness' & Britain's security.

Also - a persecution complex that deep is probably more about a mental illness than it is about getting press attention & I get a hint that the hacks are beginning to twig that & feel guilty about pretending he's in control of it.
are you saying that he's mental for having those views.
 
D

Darren Martin

Guest
Why I might not always agree what he says he should be allowed to say it. I love him for his music and his challenging views. It's easy and lazy to call him a racist without actually taking the trouble to think about what he's saying. Viva Morrissey.
 
"Written by Dele Fadele, the paper’s only reporter of colour"

"White" people are the people of color. We get red when we burn, green when were sick, yellow when our kidneys fail, purple and blue when were cold and dying. We are the most diversely colored people on Earth.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Isn’t For Britain the first political party to really stand up and advocate animal welfare? Morrissey said he’d never vote and, if he did, the party would have to treat animals and humans equally. Or at least have a strict policy.

Yeah. Animal rights are its priority issue. Either because Anne Marie believes in it or as an issue to try to lure in a demographic that would take them closer to the centre.

He liked her before the party existed so he's probably going by things she'd said rather than policies.
 

hand in glove

40 percent papier mache
Subscriber
Yeah. Animal rights are its priority issue. Either because Anne Marie believes in it or as an issue to try to lure in a demographic that would take them closer to the centre.

He liked her before the party existed so he's probably going by things she'd said rather than policies.
How do you know he liked her before the party existed? Just curious. When has he mentioned her before?
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
How do you know he liked her before the party existed? Just curious. When has he mentioned her before?
When she lost the UKIP leadership contest he made a comment about it on a BBC radio 6 live set he was doing. In 2017. To general confusion.

It implies he knew her enough to be invested in her. Don't know how. He's never said. And he's shown no real interest in UKIP beyond her failed leadership bid.
 

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