When Heroes Go Down - Dumping Morrissey
I wrote the letter below in 2016, when I finally gave up on my teenage hero. It hurt, it really hurt. It still does. I get pangs when I see he has a new record out, or is touring.
After New Order, Morrissey was my other first significant love. I bought the records, wore t-shirts, saw him live 20 times, quoted him, berated anyone who criticised him. Judged those who didn’t like him; embraced those that did.
But his lyrics and statements were worrying at times (Bengali In Platforms, National Front Disco etc.), yet I defended him (it's art, it's commentary on the world, not his views etc etc). And at times he took action that reassured me he did not hold these views, that he was not This Alarming Man. He funded the Love Music Hate Racism event in 2008 and he sued for an apology from the NME and its accusations of racism. Phew.
But then his views veered again to the right, announcing he was pro-Brexit and pro-Farage...
So I wrote down how I felt. Like Raymond Marks in Willy Russell’s The Wrong Boy, my letter remains unsent.
And I have had nothing to do with him since. Like checking out an old flame on Facebook to see who they are dating (which is NEVER a good idea), I will occasionally look at his latest setlists to see what Smiths’ songs he is playing. Or listen to one of his new songs, though these are usually rubbish, which helps.
Whilst I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe in the freedom to no longer associate with artists whose views I find repugnant. I respect Nick Cave's view that that his music should live on, despite his views, and we should bear in mind we are all conflicted individuals. But for me, he had to go and I have stood firm; since then I have not bought a record or seen him live. Thank God for Johnny Marr, still making amazing music and playing fabulous versions of The Smiths music, as well as his superb solo work.
I still occasionally play Moz's old solo records, trying to separate the man from the music. The records were such a part of my life, I can’t let them go. Which is hard because his views since I wrote this have got worse, pro-Brexit, pro-Farage and now pro-For Britain, a party even Farage has condemned.
You used to be a sweet boy, but now you’re hated for hating…
We have been together now, on and off, for over 30 years. We have danced, laughed, flailed (arms akimbo) on the dance floor, and occasionally sat on my bedroom floor sobbing at my broken heart and the wrongs of the world.
You have helped me spot arseholes - with a few honourable exceptions, if people don't like The Smiths, they probably aren't worth knowing. We have strenuously disagreed about meat (your videos of slaughterhouses during Meat Is Murder when you sing this live made me hungry)
At times you have made me angry, like when you blew out the gig in NYC, where you were to be supported by Sir Cliff Richard, and I spent a small fortune going before you cancelled because you were "ill". I forgave you because I got to spend a few days with a lovely woman. But you had no hand (in glove) in that good fortune.
I have defended you when you wrote obtuse lyrics that could (reasonably) be seen as racist. You couldn't be and you were an artist above explaining yourself. To my everlasting shame, I made excuses for you when you announced the Chinese were a subspecies - you'd just got carried away and been misquoted because of your passion for animal rights. I was in denial.
I was angry with you for the startlingly unengaging and selfish gig you played in London in 2015, where you played a truly terrible set and charged near double your contemporaries, New Order, who are more relevant and innovative than you have been in over ten years.
Now, you like Nigel Farage.
That's it. It's over. As I told Zoe Davis in 1988 when we split up - it's not me, it really is you....
You have embarrassed me, let me down and treated me terribly and your views are distorted in a way I cannot rationalise, justify or defend. And frankly, your last album is shite.
We're done. Don't call. I have blocked you on FB, my mobile and WhatsApp.
Try not to treat anyone else like shite. And stop being a dick.