“Why Do You Come Here?”


I was twelve years old when I first heard “Suedehead” by Morrissey. I had just entered a new phase in my life. I had always been quiet, but I still managed to function and I had typically mainstream tastes. Adolescence changed all of that, it almost seemed to turn my awkward self-consciousness murderous. I now had to contend with monthly agonies and indignities.

One morning I was in a science lesson when I became overwhelmed by nausea and cramps. I was finding it impossible to concentrate. I was therefore unaware of what the teacher was telling us so I put my hand up to ask him if I could go home. However the teacher had just asked the class for a volunteer to demonstrate something or other and he thought that was me. I never had the chance to prove his experiment because I fainted in front of the whole class. I was sent home and that happened to be the same morning I heard the song.


I had never heard anything like it. It seemed to encapsulate a very adolescent diffidence. I loved the video of the single. It was an homage to the young James Dean. The video was filmed in his boyhood home of Fairmount Indiana and featured scenes which were pertinent to his early life.


In his autobiography Morrissey explained the significance of certain locations, most poignantly those which were shot at his high school,

“Dean himself occupied these (school) chairs…the stuck pupil awaiting the final bell so that he might be free to become eternal”.


When Morrissey`s first solo album was released I bought the cassette version as soon as I could, then immediately sourced The Smiths back catalogue. It seemed from that moment on all of his music made perfect sense to me. He began to enthral the imagination of a few of my friends as well.


Morrissey spent his adolescence in 1970s Manchester. It was an oppressive experience living in a culture dominated by what we would now call heteronormativity and casual homophobia. All of his songs refer to the sense of hopelessness and futility living in a society where barbarism was just bubbling under the surface.

There is one thing that I have learned over the years is that Morrissey fans are special. We are fiercely loyal of him and his legacy. Music journalists, on the other hand are an entirely different species. It has often been suggested that they are simply failed and bitter musicians out to wreak revenge.


This explains the years of outrageous distortion, exaggeration and libel. Journalists have accused him of all kinds of things, none of which are true. It is clear that these journalists lack the intellectual or imaginative capacity to understand the true meaning behind his songs. They are also bemused by the apparent contradiction between his sensitive demeanour and the confrontational nature of the music that he creates. But you cannot challenge society in a softly, softly approach, it just doesn’t work. The timbre of the music is deliberately aggressive so that the listener notices. Some commentators bristle against the supposed “pretension” of Morrissey the person and complain that he is supercilious or aloof. However I am certain that this is a defence mechanism that he learned to adopt on the rough streets of Manchester. He knew that if he revealed how vulnerable and soft he actually was the bullies would annihilate him.

Truthfully his innate compassion is rare in the pop world. In 1984 he appeared on Top of the Pops wearing a hearing aid. Immediately he was accused of mocking the deaf community, again this was false. In a subsequent interview he revealed that a fan had written to him complaining that as a hearing impaired person her hearing aid made her feel self-conscious. In the 1980s such devices comprised of a transistor box which was worn over the chest and held up with shoulder straps. Morrissey realised how uncomfortable it must have been for her to live with a disability that made her stand out, so wore a similar device in a gesture of solidarity.

However serious accusations of “racism” have dogged him throughout his career. This is a misrepresentation. His songs deal with isolation, alienation and social dislocation. There are people living in our society who feel that they do not truly belong. This includes those who are from an immigrant background and those lost youths who are drawn to the far-right.


Morrissey is a singer-songwriter, not a politician. He presents an artistic representation of the society in which we live, yet he is continually challenged on his politics. He is no different in this regard to someone like John Lennon. Lennon was an idealist attracted to a kind of Utopian socialism. At that time Britain was a deeply conservative country and his long hair, unkempt beard and apparent indolence offended a great deal of people. However it also drew in a wider circle of people to his milieu including a few shady individuals on the far-left. Consequently Lennon was on an MI5 list for years. Similarly Morrissey`s sympathy for someone like Anne-Marie Waters has nothing to do with “racism”. He is sympathetic to her brand of politics owing to her genuine concern for women, gay rights and animal welfare.


It is clear that these important issues are not sacrosanct in a society under threat from sinister political forces. His latest album addresses all of his narrow-minded critics. He states “I Am Not A Dog On A Chain”, and it is a courageous and necessary record in today`s climate. We are living in an anodyne culture and owing to the rise of social media anything that you say in public can be twisted for all kinds of sickening purposes.

Tomorrow I will be celebrating Morrissey`s 61st birthday by playing all of my favourite records. It will be the ultimate homage to a musician who has kept me going through some difficult times in my life and I will salute him.

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