Mariel's Reviews > Meetings with Morrissey

Meetings with Morrissey by Len Brown
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Dec 19, 2011

it was amazing
Recommended to Mariel by: certain people I know
Recommended for: why don't you find out for yourself?
Read from December 19 to 26, 2011

"Can you squeeze me into an empty page of your diary and psychologically save me? I've got faith in you."

The five stars up top are for Morrissey. Len Brown's Meetings with Morrissey is truly a four that I am calling a five to maybe give it more lustre (like a gold lame shirt) in the great library in the sky of books about Morrissey and The Smiths. I liked it a lot. Okay, I had some complaints. But this is a curve scale! Not many Morrisey books are any good. I also just like reading about those Morrissey days like they are still happening (aren't they?). It's hard to get again that first time high of when you heard that voice that would make it all seem worth it. It's like some dead seas of gray brain mass parting to let in the way. (I feel bad for those Morrissey fans who don't get that from anyone else, though. Well I wonder what about them made them stop hearing more.)

Other reviewers have already mentioned that Len Brown was a journalist for Britain's NME music magazine. Noooo, how can he be one of them?! He's not the "Morrissey is a racist because he didn't say that he wasn't when we said he was [to sell papers?] and we must take him down even if that means publishing fake interviews with doctored soundbites as often as it takes to keep the bogus venom in the public eye for those who don't really give a shit but believe anything they'll only half pay attention to!" (Pretty much what those Ron Paul haters are banking on, is my guess. Remember that douche who wrote that Stephin Merritt was a racist because he didn't like a Beyonce song? Ludicrous. Stephin Merritt's heart is pure! I sob into the night alone listening to my many albums.) I used to think that Morrissey snubbed some NME twat at a party (probably a former fan coughs) and that was behind all of that. Rejection, you know, is cruel. He's finally taking them to court over that shit and good for him. Why does an artist who writes songs that anyone who actually listens to would know isn't racist expected to throw "Hey! I'm not a racist!" flash bulb parades? It's stupid (it's the same thing they want of him for the gay rumors). So Len Brown isn't one of those guys but he kind of is anyway (the other reviews didn't say this so I'm gonna). He really, really wanted Morrissey to have that Not a Racist ball. He seems to have a stake in the success of Morrissey's career as NME wanted to take him down and sell "Where are they now?" issues in the fallout (that doesn't stop them from selling celebratory issues that still bring up their agendas. Grumbles). There are definite undertones of success bias in Brown's book. Is that all there is?

Does it matter if Morrissey is relevant? I still loved him before the big comeback of 2004. I wasn't getting any cool points on the streets for listening to him in his bad reputation days of the late 1990s (grumbles). The Morrissey book of my dreams doesn't give two pints of light ale please if anyone else likes him or his current status. This year hasn't been a good year for the Mozfather. Moz feuding with a fansite (Morrissey-solo.com is a depressing state of affairs for more reasons than one) and those old racism flare ups. He always canceled shows and always had difficulties staying on a record label. So what else is new? Sure, those last tracks are not going to make it on my ipod playlists any time soon (no matter how many times Brown claims that 'Christian Dior' is the best thing ever). Is it necessary to pretend that 'Throwing my arms around (Paris)' is so great to have an excuse to love on Morrissey? Of course not! What gives, Len Brown?

Brown is a rock journalist. I've written on goodreads many times before my opinion of the rock journalist style. You know how journalists are taught to write for the reading level of third graders? Well, to my mind, rock journalists write for the emotional level of something they assume is some average point that will hit the largest number of people (to say, not to leave anyone out). Cliches about the (had to be painful) brother's suicide making music mean more (that doesn't mean it will), and you know how it is, and we all felt the same old song when listening to these songs. Morrissey is great to me because he doesn't just talk about the you know how it is longing. I listen to him and I feel how it is for him, not how he assumes it is for me. It's not some accepted auto tune machine thing. I don't want to grind out the edges to meet the same note. I really, really don't like the rock journalist style about this. Fortunately, these parts of Meetings with Morrissey are, for the most part, easily skipped over (one is an entire chapter). I don't mean to be unfair. I've read way, way worse interviews with Morrissey. Brown's "I hope they didn't think I was gay 'cause I was going to a hotel room with Morrissey" was barely background noise to a room where I only heard Morrissey (I'm mentioning it now!). Desperate interviewers wanting their idol to feel the same about them and the whole thing becomes about them. Brown reads like the guy trying to set the scene of relevance again when he doesn't need to. I don't mind that too much. Brown is alright with me 'cause he showed up to a (canceled) Morrissey show in a You're the one for me, fatty t-shirt. At least he's looking for the bright star in the sky, right? Why did they campaign against him and want to take him down (besides there seems to be a culture of that)? Is it because he is different, as Brown says? I think it is because he doesn't give them what they want on a ready to print quote (Such as: "I'm gay!"). All they had to do was listen...


My favorite parts were the Morrissey influences part. I know that other reviewers complained about that but I am not other reviewers (I am the goodreader who created the Morrissey reading list book shelf that is my single great contribution to this website). Not that he IS his influences. Okay, this is a part early on in one of the first Oscar Wilde chapters (there are several, at least) that meant a lot to me.

Morrissey said (it was in one of their early interviews): "To hear Wilde's voice is really quite moving. It makes him seem much more of a real person, so much more tangible. Interestingly, the voice sounded very much like John Hurt in The Elephant Man. Do you remember how he spoke? Very soft voice. I think it was modelled on theatre voices of the time because John Merrick was very interested in the theatre. And that's the way Wilde spoke."

To hear something like that then hear it somewhere else and imagine the Elephant Man listening to these theatre actors and making a part of himself (his voice) reach someone else by tuning it to them in that way... That he thought about John Hurt noticing that and putting it in the performance... This is the kind of thing that knocks me over if I'm paying attention enough to catch it. I love that Morrissey said that so much. It might not have been a real recording of Wilde at all (there's debate). But still! Wilde's voice like their theatre voices that had to have been collective tuning into whatever voice of someone else they wanted to get across to other people (their audience). That's why Morrissey's influences mean something to me. Morrissey reading guys like Jean Genet and watching Saturday Night, Sunday Morning.
Isn't it going into the pages of their diary and trying to be psychologically saved? There's a scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (damn, I've referenced this before on goodreads too) when Clementine gives her big speech to Joel that she's just a fucked up girl looking for her own peace of mind and can't save him. Joel says that he secretly hoped that she would. Isn't that it? The hope that they will?

What is relevance but that someone is going to notice that desire? Maybe there are all kinds of deliberate patterns in Morrissey's life with his hero Oscar Wilde (it did occur to me that he drops so many of his friends because he fears abandonment like what happened to Wilde in his last tragic years). Maybe the patterns matter less than the ability to see the story in the shit you see? You could keep your eye on them like Moz being the bright star in the sky and there's some cowboys telling stories about it all under that light. I want to see the stars so I can hear those stories. I KNOW I've said that the hole wasn't responsible for Paul McCartney writing Fixing a Hole. So why can't people cut the shit and appreciate what those influences mean without taking away meaning?

Brown says Morrissey appeal is a strange attraction that is sexual. I can't describe it any better than he did. I forget what Morrissey called it. The dictionary would call it attraction turned towards yourself because you can't get it from the one you wanted. It started with an a and it ended with sexual but it wasn't asexual. (Some review, Mariel.) It's not sexual attraction with sex as the goal, I think. It's not a fantasy to live out in your head and store away in some bank for future use either. (Hot? Colder? Marco and Polo?) It's like the part of you that feels desire. Morrissey's songs capture a space of longing that could stretch out (and wait). Where do you see the longing and which voices do you pick up in a beautiful totally not auto-tuning away (and definitely not rock journalist style).

Okay, so Brown irritated me suggesting shit about Moz's personal life staying this longing to create his art. I think he read too much into the Christian Dior song (god, he overrates that, in my opinion). Dior "sacrificed" to live for his art. If you are as receptive as Morrissey you can pick it up anywhere. The point is that he is able and willing to.

"I really, really did love those people. I gave them my life, my youth. Beyond the perimeters of pop music there was a drop at the edge of the world."

He knows even if I don't.

The Morrissey book of my dreams doesn't want anything more than that from Morrissey. Maybe Brown feels the careerist slant because of his own careerist slant. I did enjoy reading this a lot, even if I complain a lot in my review. Oh yeah, there's your typical biography and why the Smiths broke up stuff. It's interesting to see how Morrissey was afraid to be without the band in his early solo days and then eager to be rid of its shadow creating light. I still say the point is the songs and not the career. At least for me. But it's not my job.

"So can you squeeze me into an empty page of your diary and supernaturally change me?" (the Morrissey books of my dreams.)

Kristen says that lists are my thing so I am going to do some for Morrissey now. Favorite songs. I know, so obvious but I've not done one here yet. When is it going to be my turn?! (Soon is now.)

My favorite Morrissey solo tunes:
1. Seasick, yet still docked
2. Sing your Life
3. Speedway
4. Jack the ripper
5. Tomorrow
6. My Love Life
7. Why don't you find out for yourself?
8. You're the one for me, fatty
9. Hairdresser on Fire
10. Let me kiss you

The Smiths top ten that is really almost all of them:
1. There is a light that never goes out
2. I know it's over
3. Hand in Glove
4. I Won't share you
5. Back to the Old House
6. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
7. Rusholme Ruffians
8. Well I Wonder
9. Bigmouth Strikes Again
10. Half a person

There are so many Morrissey lists I could do! (One day I want to just talk about Morrissey's tastes in photographs. Come on! This man has a soulful eye.) I have too many favorites. The temptation to edit this list is great... That's probably why I never did one even in my crazy listmaking goodreads days. (I should have made a list for Ian to love Johnny Marr. How come Johnny Marr is not compelling? He's not, though... Morrissey isn't the only singular wordsmith with tongue in cheek (slightly bleeding from the sharp tongue) that's either pouting or puckering up for a kiss or something (could be anything). Maybe it's what Morrissey said about Oscar Wilde being special because he was funny and simple and anyone could read him (aw, it's what I already said about the not auto-tuning it. Shut up, Mariel). Anyone could listen to Morrissey and he sings about and listens for what anyone often doesn't. I'm going to stop writing this review before I start blathering again about what makes a pop idol (it could get bad. I could start analyzing pop music). I'm sure that rock journalists would say it is scandal and Morrissey behaving badly and not in the generic car wreck/drunken way that Marr does it. Please don't let it be that. (I hope it's the asking to be cared about.)

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Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Lists ARE your thing! No one else is allowed to have them! When I see an old lady with a shopping list at the store I slap it out of her hands, get your own thing Grandma, stop stealing Mariel's lists!!!


Mariel Santa Clause had better not check that list twice, let alone once! Well, next year.


message 3: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Schindler owes you some royalties.


Mariel My hand wants to turn into claws from signing 1/2 cent checks for the billions on the terrorist/no fly lists.


message 5: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Real-estate agents and sailboat owners better come up with some new terms too!


Mariel And that dude named Craig! The nerve!


message 7: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I'm make sure to drink my V8 so that I won't list to the side and infringe on Mariel!

I'm curious about this word that starts with "a" and ends with "sexual." I can't think of anything.


Mariel Autosexual! I just remembered! Yessssss!

Hospital patients who are listless need to start funding me insurance.


message 9: by Eh?Eh! (last edited Dec 30, 2011 05:44PM) (new)

Eh?Eh! Woohoo! Word recall!

Franz Liszt owes you some serious payment.


message 11: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! And hitmen, and all those to-doers of the world


Mariel And Steve Buscemi in Billy Madison. I'm so ripped off and I didn't even realize it until Kristen told me.


message 13: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez It seems like part of his mystique is not an asexuality, but rather a....post-bisexuality? Like he had already faced down and eventually surrendered in the whole battle of romance before he even began belting out songs about it, so he's this unobtainable vat of sage, smoldering sexuality which is spilling over onto everything he touches. Or something. I dunno. I mean, and he's also, ya know, insanely good looking. He's a strange composite of effeminate voice/behavior and that James Dean, tough guy greaser appearance. It's jarring to some.

I love this review. I am a bit sad that your lists didn't include "I Am Hated For Loving" and "Pretty Girls Make Graves" and/or "I Know It's Over", though. There is just too much wonderful to choose from!


message 14: by Mariel (last edited Dec 30, 2011 06:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariel I know it's over is #2! It's almost number one. My list is all Smiths songs, trust me. It is one I could add flipping everything to and always changes. I've been a Morrissey fan for longer than I haven't been and I'm getting on in years so there has time for repeat button and waking up with songs in my head.

You're right. His sex appeal is that he is everything. Man, woman, animal, atoms. You don't have to be able to touch it because he makes you feel it like you could be wearing it.


message 15: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez How did I miss that? I'm going blind, Mariel. I am getting old, Mariel. One day I will have (a) kid(s) who will make fun of me for loving the Smiths.

"He makes you feel it like you could be wearing it." ...I really like that description.


Mariel I should have put that in my review but if I click edit I will be changing those favorite songs lists all night...

When I'm sick I like to watch the top of the pops what difference does it make and dance like when Morrissey was sick. If I had kids they would tell me I'm never, ever allowed to dance again.

If the kids say not to sing I could say I know you and you cannot sing! And then take them to an orphanage because they can't be mine and some mistake was mine and the Morrissey fan is mine.


message 17: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Gotta love some Morrissey, I just wish my ipod hadn't been jacked. All those Smiths albums gone.


Mariel Oh no! That's so awful.


message 19: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Mine was stolen by a maid at the Embassy Suites, Dallas. Also, my computer is broken and I'm missing the stereo component to my record player. No musics for me right now! And I have some wonderful Smiths records. Sniffle.


Mariel If that happened to me I would lose a lot of music, although luckily not (I'd go nuts) The Smiths. I have cds, records and even some tapes!


message 21: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I used to have so many Smiths tapes! Unfortunately, all my tapes got warped by being left in a case in my car under the scalding hot Oklahoma summer sun. Years of collecting and comp making. Woops.


Mariel Tapes are too fragile!

I used to make crazy ass mixed tapes and CDs. I made album art. God, was I sensitive (I'm not sensitive anymore).


message 23: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Ha I too remember the days of mixed tapes and CD making. Then I said 'forget cases' and let them bounce along in the side compartment in one great stack to scratch up and become useless. Thankfully there is the internet and Youtube, which is playing 'Ganglord' as I write this.


Mariel I still have a lot of mine. I have some from the (yikes) late '90s that are all Morrissey.


message 25: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls I didn't have time to read all this review but I wholeheartedly concur with your Smiths top ten. Mostly my favourites too.


message 26: by David (new)

David The author was going to Morrissey's hotel room, and was worried that the hotel staff would think he was gay? Did he really write that? Bizarre.


Mariel Yes, no doubt left overs from the attitudes towards gays when they were young. Brown was a footballer and Moz represented what you shouldn't be and avoided resembling yourself. He thinks too much about that like Moz could be a friend you avoid being seen with. Maybe there's more to it than just the rock journalist wanting to make a pound on who sells papers... He did care a lot about if Moz is acceptable or not...

The way Brown writes it, the outcasts Moz admired on those Smiths album artwork would keep him from having true lime light himself if he was too much like them.... But he shone for being different and caring about different and thats why he resonated in the first place. That's bugging me a bit. Why does it have to be socially acceptable? It's just what matters to you.

I should have gone more into that in my review. Darn.


message 28: by Bill (new)

Bill great review, mariel. it wasn't quite long enough though...just kidding!! i just bought the boxed set the complete smiths which has everything they did. it's awesome and the remastering is amazing, the sound quality is so good.


Mariel I want that! The Moz and Smiths singles boxed sets are my prizes.


message 30: by mark (new)

mark monday "I Won't Share You"... love that one!


Mariel I'm listening to it right now! :)


message 32: by Tuck (new)

Tuck nice, but i must dissent strongly in your opinion of johnny marr, plu...ese


Mariel So you would read biographical works about him? (That is all I meant on that.)


message 34: by Tuck (new)

Tuck oh yeah, i ouwld have johnny marr's KIDS if posible. hah, not really. that's kindof gross. but marr has been SO BUSY these past few years, either he is a very cool, talented, easy-to-get-along-with, voracious guy, or a money-hungry pop monster. either way i like him (and moz 2)


Mariel I just don't want to read more drug biopics. Of course he's great!


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I just looked up "miserable" in a rhyming dictionary and it said, "sorry, no perfect rhymes could be found".

Lucky for us there is Morrissey.

I think Morrissey has answered the one question that the rest of humanity most dreads: if you could only have one, would you choose sex or romance?

If you choose sex and it's absent from your life, at least you can slip into left-hand drive.

If you choose romance, sometimes you have to make do with misery.

It helps if you can write about it, even if there is no perfect couplet.

I wonder if it was the absence of a perfect couplet that made Morrissey miserable.

Being only one half of a perfect couplet must be as lonely as a studio without a starlet or a drunk without a bar or a boxing joke without a punch line or the rouge without the noir.

Sorry, no perfect rhymes could be found. Lucky for us there is Morrissey.


Mariel That was brilliant, Ian.

That reminds me of a male character in a novel who had deformed genitals. He couldn't ever have sex so he wanted women to keep falling in love with him. Always that first falling in love until they realized it couldn't be had. I'm thinking it was Masks but now I'm not sure. I read too many books last year.

I think Morrissey wants a love that is sustained at it's most brilliant, always burning brighter. Who could live like that? Only on another planet...


message 38: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye The other planet of our imagination.


Mariel Mine would get tired.


message 40: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye It might get tired, but there is a light that never goes out.


message 41: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich So I just read these last few comment, and Ian, that was some of the most profound posts to be found on GR. Perhaps you were a poet in a past life, or this one.


message 42: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Spenke, it was nothing really, the cricket had got predictable.


Mariel If there are crickets then there are also coyotes.
(You could do the comment into a review. Those are always so enjoyable.)


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract.


message 45: by Tuck (new)

Tuck johnny MMMMAAAARRRR fender guitar http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/news/2012...


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