Wednesday, April 7



An Gabhar Ban said...

I've never heard this before. But I like it. :)

Metamatician said...

Morrissey is an English singer and songwriter who fronted the band The Smiths in the 1980s. They were one of the seminal rock bands in Britain, and began the whole "Manchester" scene, which resulted in bands like The Stone Roses and Oasis becoming popular.

While receiving mostly college and alternative airplay in the US, they racked up #1s on the UK charts - the combination of jangly 50s style rock n roll music with Morrissey's trademark dour but witty lyrics and distinctive vocals hit a chord in Britain that mostly failed to catch on in America (except for those of us in the know, of course).

After recording 4 extremely successful albums, a compilation of singles, and a live album, they broke up at the very height of their popularity, as sometimes happens with bands that get successful too quickly (about 4 or 5 years together was all, though like the Beatles, whom were the ONLY band rated by Britons recently as more influential musically than The Smiths, they produced a prodigious and still-admired body of work in their short time together). It was the old candle burning brightly thing, it seems.

Guitarist Johnny Marr went on to play with The Pretenders and other bands, influencing a whole generation of would-be axemen who wanted that "Manchester sound," but it was Morrissey who found the most success post-Smiths, and who ironically found it not in his native Britain, but largely in the US - and particularly in Los Angeles, where he moved (into Clark Gable's old home) and lived for more than ten years, before recently relocating to Rome.

In Los Angeles, Morrissey was able to indulge his quirky obsessions - 60s female pop stars like Nancy Sinatra (with whom he became good friends), James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Montgomery Clift. He also surprisingly found a large audience amongst LA's Hispanic community, who somehow identified with the singer's frequent themes of being an outsider in a larger mainstream culture with which he could not identify. For Morrissey (b. Steven Morrissey 22 May 1959), his true loves were all in the past - Oscar Wilde and Victorian England as it could never be again. For Hispanic audiences (not just in LA, but soon all throughout Latin America), his lyrics and attitude appear to have appealed to feelings of being at all times second-class citizens regardless of immigration status or even education - the "new Blacks" if you will.

A substantial number of disenfranchised Caucasian and African-American youth in the US and UK also gravitated to his implied message that "it's ok to be different" and "the majority are bankrupt of meaning" and thus at concerts you'd see quite the odd mixture of old Mods (from The Smiths days), new goths and proto-emo types, gays and lesbians (another group perpetually feeling slighted by society), and hardcore Hispanics complete with gang tattoos and Morrissey tattoos in close proximity. (cont'd)

Metamatician said...

I've seen him 6 times in concert, sadly never with The Smiths, though I was a fan of theirs before they broke up. He has always been eccentric, passionate, odd, mischievous, brilliant, unpredictable, and coy yet somehow completely honest. It's as though he nods to his fame, such as it is, by trivializing the entire machinery which would produce such a thing.

I'd be happy to share any part of my VERY complete collection of both Smiths and Moz studio recordings and bootlegs with anyone interested. I have video as well.

If you're totally lost about what to expect, I can say from the "inside" that the music is definitely alternative and a tad arcane, though well this side of The Cure or Dead Can Dance. But it's much less artificial than the Top 40's usual fare. If you've enjoyed Bowie's non-mainstream music or any crooners like Scott Walker, Nick Cave, or Nick Drake, or the sheer downbeaten words put to an ironically happy musical backdrop of SWANS, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or yes, The Cure, then you will surely enjoy The Smiths and Morrissey.

If you only enjoy R&B, Rap, and Country music, and whatever "classics" are selected for the current season of American Idol, you will of course hate him and his intellectually challenging songs. And if you have no sense of humor, wit, or irony, you may find the whole affair to be morbid and depressing, but in that case you would be largely missing the point.


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