Brian Wilde's Reviews > Meetings with Morrissey

Meetings with Morrissey by Len Brown
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Jan 04, 2009

it was amazing
Read in December, 2008

Meetings with Morrissey is an account of a series of interviews with Morrissey over a 25 year period conducted by former NME man Len Brown. Not alone, Brown spent the early eighties frustrated and depressed by the state of the country and the music it was producing. That was until September 1983 when he first saw The Smiths and his despair at the re-election of Mrs Thatcher and the accompanying celebration of all things crass had a soundtrack, and a voice. Consequently, this book is more social history than biography. There are other books which focus in on the split between Morrissey and Marr and the endless (and pointless) speculation on Morrisey's sexuality and it is to this books credit that it does neither. Instead, it offers an analysis of not just why The Smiths were a great band but from whence came that searing critique which lifts The Smiths work out of the annals of pop music and places it alongside other great works of art. That critique was Morrissey's. While everybody else seemed to be saying `this is brilliant', Morrissey expressed an emotional language that I didn't have to say what I really thought and felt, `this is awful'. By revisiting the interviews he conducted with Morrissey, Brown is able to shed light on the key influences upon Morrissey. The chapter on Oscar Wilde is brilliant and gets closer than anything else to explaining the sense of sexual alienation and tragedy which underpin Morrissey's best work. However, this is just one aspect of the many and interconnected cultural stimulus that is explored to great effect. From soap opera characters to French cinema Brown creates a work that is insightful on a much deeper level than simply 'what happened where'.

Whilst an illuminating insight of itself, it is the personal and socio-political context of the period through which Brown weaves his insights into Morrissey's life and art which make this book such a tender and worthwhile exposition. Brown gives as much of himself as he does of Morrissey and in doing so brings the reader into intimate contact with something of themselves. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, somehow, it really did say something about my life.
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