Home is a Question Mark by Paul Laird @mildmanneredmax
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
(“My Way”, Paul Anka)
I hear a call
I hear a cry
I raise my voice
I have no choice
I raise my hand
I hammer twice
I see no point in being nice
(“I Am Not a Dog on a Chain”, Morrissey)
Morrissey is, once again, without a record label.
The news that BMG have decided to terminate their relationship with this once charming man should come as a surprise to no-one and everyone.
Let me explain.
The last three albums from Morrissey have been his best since 2004’s “You Are The Quarry”. While that doesn’t place them at the top table alongside “Your Arsenal”, “Vauxhall and I” or “Quarry” itself it does suggest that there was still fuel in his creative tank. This year’s “I Am Not A Dog On A Chain” was the equal of any of his best, crucially (at least for Morrissey) it also performed well in the charts in various territories. While that may no longer be the gold standard for success that it was thirty years ago it does suggest that more people than the loyalists were listening.
“Dog on a Chain” arrived hot on the heels of his wonderful collection of covers “California Son” and the dark wonders of 2017’s “Low In High School” which, despite featuring the frankly vulgar “Spent the Day in Bed”, showed glimpses of the old powers returning from the shadows. Why then would BMG decide that now was the time to cut ties with him?
The answer to that is revealed by Morrissey himself in excerpts from a forthcoming interview with someone called “V. Pearson” who some think might not be an actual journalist or even person but simply Mozzer talking to himself…
“It’s still important to me to do music my own way, and I wouldn’t want to be on a label that dictates so specifically how their artists should behave - especially when the word “talent” is notably never mentioned.”
Well done Mozzer.
Who could argue with that stand.
The problem is that the statement from his own website, Morrissey Central, contains another line that reveals slightly more about what really lies behind the creative divorce that is now playing out in public…
“Instead, the new BMG Executive has announced plans for “diversity” within BMG’s artist roster…”
Houston, we have a problem.
After spending much of the past few years doing everything he can to make the argument that he dresses to the right of the right on the political spectrum; wearing a pin badge in support of For Britain, crass (at best) comments on issues he is not qualified to speak on (in any way), positioning himself on the side of the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon and more.
In short the accusation is “He’s a fucking racist”.
For the grotesque and lonely likes of me and myriad others in his fan base that is a difficult thing to come to terms with and to accept. This is a man who used to describe a visit to Rymans as an erotic experience and who encouraged us all to be gentle and kind. You must forgive those of us who find it challenging to just…accept.
Interestingly the whole statement about BMG seems no longer to be on Morrissey Central, certainly as I type this, which suggests that either someone from BMG has been in touch to demand it be taken down or that Morrissey has realised that it might not help his attempt to position himself as a “victim” if he is demonising the idea of creative and cultural diversity
It is a dangerous game to play, to try and “diagnose” someone when you have no clinical experience and when you haven’t met the person you are attempting to understand. That said it’s also great fun. When one looks over the characteristics for a narcissistic personality it includes several criteria where Morrissey’s public persona would appear to fit;
An exaggerated sense of his own importance?
Requires constant admiration?
Preoccupied with success/achievement?
Believes himself to be superior?
I could go on but you get the general idea.
It is worth remembering too that while Morrissey is clearly erudite he has no formal education and has lived his life like some sort of faded Hollywood icon for many years. Secreted away in mansions on Sunset Boulevard, living in hotels in Rome and always surrounded by the sound of “yes”. That could, arguably, corrode the soul and pave the way for something much uglier to emerge from within.
But what do I know.
Nothing is the answer.
Why do I care enough to have spewed this out onto the page?
I don’t know.
I know nothing and I don’t know.
I think there is still a part of me that hopes that one day Morrissey will re-emerge. That the past 20 years or so will have been a very public breakdown of some sort. He will apologise…not for
saying what he believed but for having allowed himself to get to a point where he believed those things.
Where now then for Morrissey?
It’s quite obvious that no major label will go near him and it is equally clear that he won’t go down the path of releasing his own material via Bandcamp or the like. He has very clear ideas about how things should be done. Maybe a small label somewhere will think that they can cut a deal, release a record, make a bit of money and then cut him loose the first time he says something unpalatable. Maybe.
He is now 61…a bus pass now seems more likely than a record deal.
I have a feeling that this might be how it ends for an artist who, at one point, seemed to offer hope for the hopeless. If only I had listened to Cornershop back in the nineties when they pulled back the curtain to reveal the truth about Moz. I could have saved myself all of this…this…nonsense and ugliness.