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Music / Morrissey

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Bigmouth Strikes Again

"Irish blood, English heart,
This I'm made of,
There is no one on Earth I'm afraid of,
And no regime can buy or sell me."
— "Irish Blood, English Heart"

Steven Patrick Morrissey (born May 22, 1959), better known as just Morrissey (or "Moz/Mozzer" for short), is a British singer-songwriter who first became known during the '80s as the lead singer of The Smiths. He went solo shortly after the breakup of the group in 1987 and has been going strong ever since. He is known for his baritone voice and recurring lyrical focus on themes including isolation, sexual longing, dark and self-deprecating humor, and anti-establishment attitudes.

His controversial opinions about subjects ranging from immigration to vegetarianism, as well as his contrary and somewhat arrogant nature, mean that he is very much the type you either love or hate. Although misanthropic, he is charming and genuinely affectionate towards devotees and the few people who have gained his trust.

Another area of much speculation is Morrissey's sexuality. Many are of the opinion that his music has a lot of subtext, though Moz himself has said that he believes that sexual orientation doesn't matter. Indeed, his lyrics tend to be gender- (and thus orientation-) neutral. Despite — or perhaps due to — his desire for privacy, debate still rages on as to his sexual orientation. Is he gay? Bisexual? Asexual? The best answer is perhaps simply that he's Morrissey.

His fans tend to be very loyal, much to the annoyance of the music press and some non-fans. He's also fairly well-known in the music world for frequently canceling tours and concert dates at a moment's notice, for vague reasons.

In October 2014, he announced he had been receiving treatment for cancer. In a Spanish interview he said, "They have scraped cancerous tissues four times already, but whatever, if I die, then I die. And if I don't, then I don't. Right now I feel good. I am aware that in some of my recent photos I look somewhat unhealthy, but that's what illness can do. I'm not going to worry about that, I'll rest when I'm dead."


  • Viva Hate (1988)
  • Kill Uncle (1991)
  • Your Arsenal (1992)
  • Vauxhall and I (1994)
  • Southpaw Grammar (1995)
  • Maladjusted (1997)
  • You Are the Quarry (2004)
  • Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006)
  • Years of Refusal (2009)
  • World Peace is None of Your Business (2014)
  • Low In High School (2017)
  • California Son (2019)
  • I Am Not A Dog On A Chain (2020)

His non-album singles and b-sides are collected on:

  • Bona Drag (1990)
  • World of Morrissey (1995)
  • My Early Burglary Years (1998)
  • Swords (2009)

Morrissey has also written a few books. These are:

  • The New York Dolls (1981), a biography of New York Dolls.
  • James Dean is Not Dead (1983), a biography of James Dean.
  • Exit Smiling (1998), a book of film criticism written in 1979 but given a limited issue in 1998. All three of these books above are both incredibly short — each is under 100 pages — and incredibly rare and out of print.
  • Autobiography (2013), his autobiography. Has a bit of a love-or-hate-it reputation.
  • List of the Lost (2015), his debut novel. Received scathingly negative reviews, perhaps the worst of his career in any medium.

His work feature examples of:

  • Ambiguous Gender: Many of his lyrics avoid mentioning the gender of the narrator, and thus provide both male and female listeners with multiple points of identification.
  • Ambiguously Bi: His sexuality has been the subject of much speculation and coverage in the British press during his career, with claims varyingly being made that he was celibate, a frustrated heterosexual, or bisexual. Speculation was further fuelled by the frequent references to gay subculture and slang in his lyrics. In 2006 Liz Hoggard from The Independent said: "Only 15 years after homosexuality had been decriminalised, his lyrics flirted with every kind of gay subculture."
    • During his years with the Smiths, he professed to being celibate, which stood out at a time when much of pop music was dominated by visible sexuality. Johnny Marr said in a 1984 interview that Morrissey "doesn't participate in sex at the moment and hasn't done so for a while".
    • Repeatedly, interviewers asked Morrissey if he was gay, which he denied. In response to one such inquiry in 1985, he stated that "I don't recognise such terms as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and I think it's important that there's someone in pop music who's like that. These words do great damage, they confuse people and they make people feel unhappy, so I want to do away with them."
    • As his career developed, there was increased pressure placed on him to come out of the closet, although he presented himself as a non-practising bisexual. In a 1989 interview, he revealed that he was "always attracted to men and women who were never attracted to me" and thus he did not have "relationships at all". In 2013 he released a statement which said, "Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course...not many."
    • In 1997, he revealed that he had abandoned celibacy and that he had a relationship with a Cockney boxer. That person was revealed in his autobiography to be Jake Walters. Their relationship began in 1994, and they lived together until 1996. In a March 2013 interview, Walters said, "Morrissey and I have been friends for a long time, probably around 20 years." Morrissey was later attached to Tina Dehghani. He discussed having a child with Dehghani, with whom he described having an "uncluttered commitment". In his autobiography Morrissey also mentions a relationship with a younger Italian man, known only as "Gelato", with whom he sought to buy a house in around 2006.
  • Animal Lover: He's a keen animal lover and supporter of animal rights.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Around the time of The Smiths' formation, he decided that he would be publicly known only by his surname, with Johnny Marr referring to him as "Mozzer" or "Moz". In 1983 he forbade those around him from using the name "Steven", which he despised.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: He dislikes the nickname "Moz", telling one interviewer that "it's like something you'd squirt on the kitchen floor".
  • Free Handed Performer: He is seen playing guitar in the music video for "How Soon is Now ?" but in reality, the lead singer of The Smiths didn't master any instrument (blaming it on a lack of patience when it comes to learning how to play).
  • In the Style of: "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" is a pastiche of David Bowie, with Bowie biographer Nicholas Pegg describing it as a The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars parody performed as if it was a Young Americans track. When Bowie himself covered the track on Black Tie White Noise, he and Pegg eagerly pointed out the circularity of him imitating an imitation of himself.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: From an interview with The Sunday Times:
    My best friends have been cats. I had one cat for 23 years and one for 22. They just walked into the house, one when I was a small child and one when I was slightly older. I won't say they were like children, because I don't know any children that were actually nice. They were black-and-white and called Buster and Tibby. Tibby had been kicked in the face so he had to be fed by hand. He couldn't eat from a plate. He required a lot of patience but he cured himself and became a healthy, incredibly happy cat. They certainly enriched my life.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Margaret on the Guillotine" — nice calm music and then, at the end, the title event.
  • New Sound Album: Just about every album.
    • Viva Hate: Similar in style to The Smiths' last album, minus, you know, The Smiths.
    • Kill Uncle: Jangle pop with torch song influences.
    • Your Arsenal: Alternative rock and rockabilly with heavy influence of glam rock.
    • Vauxhall and I: Alternative rock with a much mellower sound.
    • Southpaw Grammar: Dabbles in progressive rock at times.
    • Maladjusted: Straightforward pop rock.
    • You Are the Quarry: Similar in style to Vauxhall and I and a bit of Your Arsenal.
    • Ringleader of the Tormenters: Similar to You Are the Quarry, but with a more orchestral sound.
    • Years of Refusal: Heavy alternative rock, similar to Southpaw Grammar, but with some Spanish/Latin influence thrown in.
  • Perspective Flip: Back in the The Smiths, Morrissey wrote "The Headmaster Ritual", which protested the abuses of the British Education System only two years before corporal punishment was criminalised. On Southpaw Grammar, he wrote "The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils", which reverses the situation and instead depicts the abuses perpetuated by the students.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Margaret on the Guillotine against Margaret Thatcher, so blatant that he was interrogated by Scotland Yard, and later moaned about it on "He Knows I'd Love to See Him".
  • Self-Deprecation: "Late Night, Maudlin Street" (among others):
    Me without clothes? / Well a nation turns its back and gags
  • Shout-Out: The cover for the 2009 re-release of Southpaw Grammar was inspired by David Bowie's Changesonebowie, featuring a similar black and white headshot of Morrisey with the text "SOUTHPAWMORRISSEYGRAMMAR" written above. Similarly to how the Bowie album highlights the "ONE" in its title, "MORRISSEY" is highlighted in red text, with the rest of the logotype being black.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Author Julian Stringer characterised him as a man with various contradictory traits, being "an ordinary, working-class 'anti-star' who nevertheless loves to hog the spotlight, a nice man who says the nastiest things about other people, a shy man who is also an outrageous narcissist".
  • Sunday Is Boring: "Everyday is like Sunday" is about reaching a point where life seems so grim that every day feels like a particularly bleak Sunday.
  • Take That!: Often. Better-known targets include Robert Smith (who would eventually hit back), the British royal family, a long-standing target of his rage (a reference to the Queen first appearing on Meat Is Murder back in 1985), Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, and Jamie Oliver.
    • Morrissey spends much of his Autobiography delivering back-handed Take Thats to his musical peers (Siouxsie Sioux), artists that he'd previously indicated as influences (David Bowie, Sandie Shaw) and former bandmates. Among the few that are spared harsh treatment are his longtime friend Chrissie Hynde, Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson and his late producer Jerry Finn. Moz writes that he was deeply affected by Finn's death at the young age of 39, shortly after work was finished on Years of Refusal.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: "November Spawned A Monster". A pretty odd choice because the actual song is about the plight of a disabled woman, and midway through the song an actress, apparently portraying said woman, starts letting out terrifying unintelligible cries. This makes sense if you're paying attention to the lyrics, but if you're too busy watching Morrissey suggestively writhe around rock formations in a desert while wearing tight pants and a mesh v-neck shirt, it just seems inexplicable. When the video appeared on Beavis and Butt-Head, Beavis told Morrissey to "quit whining, go out and get a job and some good clothes... and another thing, stay away from those rocks!"
  • Wall of Text: Autobiography is written in this fashion; The book's first paragraph is over four pages long, and there are many other section with similarly long, unbroken passages. The book also contains no chapter breaks, nor an index.