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Morrissey's Autobiography - A Digested Read

(John Crace)


My childhood is wave upon wave upon wave of misery. For those around me. Manchester unpleasing wheezing incomplete concrete. Naturally, my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big, full of words words words birds turds. My lineage stretches back to Ovid who grew up being diffy near the Liffey, before moving near to the Wirral to save the squirrel. From being eaten.

At school, I am the futile pupil brutalised by neo-fascist inquisitors who do not understand the subtleties of sublime rhyme. My only valent talent is for athletics, my event the 20-kilometre walk on water. Blood laced with disgrace flows from my hands, feet and side. "Oh, Steven," says my Mother Mary. "What have you done to yourself now?" I feel forlorn in my crown of thorns. Death death death unbreath is all around me. Nancy laughs, her wild smile frozen for ever as a bus loses control on a pothole and crushes her against the grimey cor blimey door of the Rover's Return. Gloria Gaynor sings I Won't Survive. Life is thus.

I seldom leave home. Top of the Pops is my one refuge from the deluge of my tears and fears. The chorus of Mud's Tiger Feet - "That's neat, that's neat, that's neat, I really love your tiger feet" - fills the gloom of the room. For the first time, I feel the possibility of persistent existence. I can see the stripy paws of one of the world's most endangered species bounding unhounded through the jungle. Those paws are mine. No more condescension at my pretension. I will sing. I will be famous. I write a song, Living Next Door to Malice, and send it to Smokie. They tell me to fuck off. The sure allure of the unbrave grave returns.

A nonentity introduces me to a moderately talented guitarist named Johnny Marr who is friends with a useless drummer called Mike Joyce and a bassist whose name I can't remember. And from that moment on, this book starts switching between the present and the past tense, and gives up trying to be shitary literary in the interests of settling as many scores as possible.

At the beginning, there was a great sense of energy, despite the small-mindedness of the automated, burger-eating pen-pushers at Rough Trade. Where this energy was coming from, I couldn't say, for my mind was fizzing with the creativity of a Keats or an Auden who had been caged for too long. The band didn't appreciate my tortured physicality that brought them hit after hit. They just enjoyed the trivialities of the repetitive life on the road while I endured the barbs and arrows of the intellectual pygmies of the music press. I was the meat being murdered.

I woke up one morning to discover that the Smiths were finished. To this day, I still can't say how that happened. Though Johnny Marr stuffing my silly gladioli up my arse may have had something to do with it. For the last 25 years and 25 nights have I roamed the deserts of London and LA doing my best to appear enigmatic and then complaining that no one understands me. David Bowie called. But who is he really? Johnny Depp turned his back. Just a parody of Paradis.

The nails went in hard. One by one. Whip me, beat me. A lawyer asked for £200,000. I paid without a backward look. Record companies robbed me, musicians who would have been nothing without me damned me, Julie Burchill tried to devour me. Friends died. And then they died again. And again. Still the audiences flocked to me in Stockholm, Rome, Stockholm and Stockholm. My message endured the cross and the very cross. And so it came to pass that the more you ignored me, the closer I got to my narcissistic heaven.

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