The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Black Sky Thinking

Why Morrissey Is Dead To Me, By Gene's Martin Rossiter
Martin Rossiter , May 26th, 2017 10:16

Morrissey was an inspiration to Martin Rossiter, whose band Gene share many fans with the former Smith. But after years of right wing blethering from Moz, Martin has had enough

I share a lot of fans with Morrissey (much fewer, I don't need to admit) and this is why I felt compelled to jot down my thoughts following his comments after the Manchester bombing.

As a teenager I bought a lot of Smiths records along with The Redskins, Billy Bragg, Heaven 17 amongst others and started to develop a love of Motown. What a lot of these records did was soundtrack my developing views of life, love and politics.

In the mid 1980s, music was still fairly tribal and people with the same taste would flutter around the same light, disparaging others that chose a different bulb. People would share articles, books, and thoughts and introduce names of thinkers, writers and poets that seemed like road maps to culture and understanding the world.

Morrissey was a big part of this process; he talked about feminism in interviews at an age when I couldn't even spell the word. He elucidated gut feelings in his songs and gave them words, often beautifully crafted. He felt like a free thinker who celebrated the emotionally and financially downtrodden.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, in his statement about the Manchester bombing Morrissey is guilty of dog whistle Islamaphobia. His comment "Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an 'extremist'. An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?" shows that he is guilty of what he claims the media and politicians are guilty of; not saying, "what we all say in private". What is that you are not saying Morrissey? Are you suddenly afraid of a word? An extreme WHAT Morrissey? Go on, spit it out, and say what you mean. He won't though, he's smart enough to give himself a linguistic escape route, and his words are just about vague enough that he could claim he's been misunderstood. He is the coward accusing others of cowardice.

Morrissey advocates a cricket green England, an England where we tolerate immigration in small numbers, an England where it's exotic to have a 'brown' neighbour? If he believes that, he should have the nerve to say it rather than taking the gutless route and insinuating it. This is a millionaire who has spent years living abroad who doesn't seem to understand modern Britain, a man who would not be moved to tears by the beautiful words of Manchester poet Tony Walsh, a man who has as much of a grasp on wonderfully multicultural Britain as I have of particle physics.

What also goes unaddressed by Morrissey's statement is that the Muslim community in Manchester and the UK as a whole have condemned the bombing despite the fact they have no need to. The person that committed this atrocity is as much Muslim as I am Martian.

I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I quietly remained a Morrissey apologist for many years. I didn't want to admit that someone who wrote songs that helped me in my youth could become an alt-right poster boy. I stopped buying his singles years ago but continued buying albums until 2009. My group Gene also supported him in 2004 at the Meltdown Festival. I really wish I had been as convicted as I am now and refused to share a platform with him. For that I am truly sorry.

After The Smiths split, his lyrical tone started to shift with the release of his first solo album. Two songs stood out, the first, 'Ordinary Boys', contained the lyrics "Ordinary Girls, supermarket clothes who think it's very clever to be cruel to you". Suddenly it seemed he was condemning the people he used to champion. It saw Morrissey turning against the working classes, the people as a child he lived cheek by jowl in 1960s Manchester.

The same album, Viva Hate, has a song called 'Bengali In Platforms' that contains the words "Life is hard enough when you belong here". It is a dreadful caricature of an Asian man trying to integrate into British society couched in faux sympathy for his plight belied by the lyric above. The song also contains the line "Shelve your Western plans". This is worrying in two ways. Firstly, Morrissey is a very capable writer, who I believe, considers every word and decided to choose 'shelve' as appose to stop, cease, quit, end and halt. It plays with the stereotype of British Asians running corner shops. As a fellow writer I understand the power of every word choice and the impact it can have, I believe this was deliberate. Secondly and equally importantly, the line also shares sentiments with the far right. 'Shelve your Western plans' is a synonym for 'England for the English'. It's 'go home P***' in more poetic language with a prettier tune. (For anyone who fancies stating the obvious here, P*** is sadly still an insult used against people of Indian, Bengali and Bangladeshi origin as well as people of Pakistani origin)

With songs like 'Asian Rut' and 'National Front Disco' (which contains the repeated line, "England for the English") Morrissey has skirted around the subject of POC in the UK, but both songs are lyrically too opaque to draw concrete conclusions. Either way he seems determined to dip his quill in that particular inkwell.

More importantly in recent years, are some of Morrissey's comments in interviews. He's said the following:

*"If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won't hear an English accent."

*Talking about the Jimmy Savile abuse investigation, saying: "2013 enlightenment can't be applied to dark and dim nights of 1972, otherwise every singer who ever slept with a 14-year-old would suddenly be behind bars – and that would take a lot of bars"


*To Q magazine he said he didn't "really think, for instance, black people and white people will ever really get on or like each other."

*He described the Chinese as a "sub-species"

*He has expressed his admiration for Nigel Farage and his divisive immigration policies.

*He claimed the BBC, were biased against Front National candidate Marine Le Pen in a TV debate stating "Last night Marine Le Pen easily won the French election debate. Today both the BBC and CNN say Macron won the debate. This is precisely why mainstream news media outlets cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Their private agendas are more important than facts, reality, or their duty to the people."

It's time people stopped making excuses. Music is hugely important but some things matter more. Morrissey walks a lazy path, contrary for the sake of being contrary. Like a comedian, whose only trick is to be more controversial than anyone else, with no concern for the hurt inflicted. Words matter, Morrissey, and you should understand that more than most.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.