Morrissey to Release Novel and Great Books by Musicians

List of the Lost

List of the Lost Press Release

I’m looking forward to reading Morrissey’s first novel.  It comes out September 24th.  The details are above.

I really enjoyed his Autobiography.  Here are five other books by musicians, in no order, that are worth checking out:

  1.  Bob Dylan – Chronicle
  2. Henry Rollins – Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag
  3. Larry Kirwan – Green Suede Shoes: An Irish-American Odyseey
  4. John Lydon – Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs
  5. Lou Reed – Between Thought and Expression: Selected Lyrics of Lou Reed

All of the books, except the Lou Reed book, which is a collection of lyrics with commentary by Reed, would qualify as autobiographies.  However, each one of them is better than the standard autobiography or biography.  Dylan’s is written with the kind of wordplay and imagery that one would expect from Dylan.  Rollin’s is as much about self-realization under duress as it is about music, though of course there is a great deal of music commentary included.  It’s jet black and deeply funny.  Kirwan is not only a musician, but also a playwright.  His book is not only expertly written, but features a great deal of really interesting information on the history and culture of Ireland.  And Lydon’s book is not only an unsentimental look at his past, but includes commentary by other people that were around him at that same time.  Even if they flat out contradict him, he seems not to give a fuck.  He is interested in getting to the truth, and the truth depends on one’s perspective.

Neko Case and Morrissey Expand the Form – Reappropriating and Deflating the Word “Man”

I love when songwriters try to expand the form, when they have a knowledge of what came before them and are able to write themselves out of the constrains of typical pop song subjects.  I also love when writers, through wit and intelligence, use language to be playful and subversive.  In both these songs, Man by Neko Case and I’m Not a Man by Morrissey, the word man, and the mainstream connotations of it, are flipped upside down in different ways.  Case is reversing gender roles, claiming the right to use the word for herself, using it to demonstrate her strength.  Meanwhile, Morrissey uses the word, and the meanings that mainstream society associate with it, to call out what is wrong in the modern world.  Case is reappropriate the word, while Morrissey is deflating the strength often associated with it.

 

Morrissey On Larry King

Morrissey larry king

Moments from Morrissey Interview With Larry King

As anyone that comes to this sight with any regularity knows, I am a huge Morrissey fan.  He just did his first U.S. television interview in many years this week on Larry King Now.  Most people that are fans have already probably watched the interview or read the transcript.  For those of you that aren’t quite as enthusiastic, but still interested, Salon does a good job of providing an overview at the link above.

The full interview is here.

Don’t Shut Up, Still Sing

I was just watching several clips of Morrissey on Larry King Now.  I haven’t watched the full program yet.  I will link to it when a link to the whole piece is available.  I was reading some comments somewhere, always a mistake, and someone commented the usual idiotic drivel about, and this could be directed at any number of entertainers, that he should just focus on singing and leave the politics to the “experts”.  But when the “experts” are just as often fuck puppets for corporations spouting buzzword tested groupthink, and not those who have thoughtfully examined a political situation from all angles, is that really what you want?

For entertainers, like all people in all professions, can run the gamut of human intelligence.  Plus someone like Morrissey (or Jackson Browne, Chuck D, Bruce Springsteen, etc.), is extremely well-read, well-traveled, and has spent a great amount of time talking to people of all stripes, often including many of those that actually have some say in our culture.  While many entertainers are grown-children that remain vain mutants, boxed off from reality in a prison of sycophancy, there are often those that are trying to make real sense of this strange world.

It is never who someone is that should make us listen to them.  It is the strength of their argument and the thoughtfulness of their thinking.  Many of us have worked jobs where someone in management or some other position of power hasn’t gotten a clue.  Do you not think that this doesn’t happen sometimes at even higher levels?  Also, the human brain is like a muscle, just because someone has exercised one part of it thoroughly doesn’t mean that the other parts have received the proper conditioning.  A brilliant doctor doesn’t make someone a great thinker when it comes to socio-economic arguments.  Being an entertainer, even if they have traveled and met with people of power, like any other profession, doesn’t make someone smarter, but it doesn’t cancel out what they have to say either.  Meanwhile an entertainer, if they do have a curious mind and a rigorous thought process, very well might have insights that are worth listening to.

But anyone that knows anything knows this.  It is only the daft, those with closed minds, who don’t want their world view inconvenienced, who would say otherwise.  So I say don’t shut up and still sing.

I personally like my entertainment barbed with things like ideas.  Not all of the time, but often, I want my music to be like an intellectual boxing match.  I want to be pushed to the limit and challenged.  And if I get tired of that, and need to turn off the mind for awhile to relax, I can put on some Ted Nugent, and give myself a temporary lobotomy…

 

Morrissey Performs Live On James Corden

Morrissey performing Kiss Me A Lot from my favorite album last year, Word Peace is None of Your Business, on James Corden. Even in a fairly straight ahead pop song, by Moz standards, he manages to get in, “Bastille mausoleum.”

More Posts On Morrissey Include:  Morrissey As Existential Hero

Neal Cassady Drops Dead

Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s tears shampoo his beard
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s lips tighten and thin
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s hosed down in a barn
Neal Cassady drops dead
And Allen Ginsberg’s howl becomes a growl

Everyone has babies
Babies full of rabies
Rabies full of scabies
Scarlet has a fever
Ringlets full of ringworm
Angel of distemper
Poor little fella has got rubella
Liver full of fungus
Junior full of gangrene
Minor’s melanoma
Tykes full of gripe. 
Whippersnapper’s scurvy
Urchin made of acne
Get that thing away from me!

Victim, or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you?
Victim or life’s adventurer
Which of the two are you? 

Lyrics by Morrissey

Last night I heard a brilliant podcast about Allen Ginsberg.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I will try to find it and link to it somehow.  In the meantime I have been thinking of these lyrics by Morrissey.  Everything dies.  The only thing you can choose is to live life to the fullest or not in the meantime.

Brendan Behan In Music

Heading out for Lubbock on tour with Shinyribs.   Brought a book of Brendan Behan plays.  The Quare Fellow is one of my favorites.  It examines prison life.  The play is fictional, but Behan spent time in confinement during his lifetime.  Behan’s autobiography Borstal Boy is also an excellent read.  There are many great songs that mention Behan.  Thin Lizzy’s Black Rose, Black 47’s The One and Only Brendan Behan,  Morrissey’s Mountjoy, and Streams of Whiskey by The Pogues are just a few.  One of my favorite songs is The Auld Triangle, which is featured in the play The Quare Fellow, though actually written by Behan’s brother.  If you have heard of him before in a song or somewhere else, but haven’t read any of his actual writings, I highly recommend them.  He was a great soul that I’m glad was out there. 

Kiss Me A Lot (Official Video)

Above is the official video for Morrissey’s song Kiss Me A Lot, which in my opinion is from the best album from the last few years, World Peace is None of Your Business.  This is easily the most straightforward pop song on the album.  I like the fact that even in a straightforward pop song he can get a term in like, “Bastille mausoleum.”

This video has created a lot of controversy in the world of Morrissey.  He has strongly supported feminism throughout his career.  The fact that this video features scantily clad models, which are so normal in most pop music, has caused disbelief amongst fans.  I admit that I was surprised to see them.

However, I love the song and the man.  Even if you count the above video as a stumble in his career, his life’s work still towers above most of modern pop music.

Madonna Banned for Age and What This Means For Culture

Madonna Banned for Age

Although I love some of her early singles, I am not what one would consider a Madonna fan.  However, the above article is something I find troubling.  Apparently the BBC have declined to play her latest single due to that fact that her and her audience are too old. 

First of all this is completely senseless.  When I was thirteen I remember listening to the Doors, a band from my parents generation.  Even now many of my favorite artists are decades older than me.  This wasn’t just true of me, but all my friends.   I remember parties in highschool listening to classic rock and early 80’s post punk, despite the fact that even the early 80’s stuff came out when I was a couple years old.  (I was born in 1978.)

People like what they are exposed to.  If you are a kid and you hear something you like, you are going to listen to it if you have any sense of self.  If you don’t hear it, at any age, you aren’t going to like it.  Plain and simple. 

Age, like sex, race, and sexual orientation,  is just another way to divide people. 

Here is what I find particularly troubling about this:  When it comes to a pop artist, although it is still senseless and wrong, it does not necessarily affect the world in any major way.  However,  there are a lot of older artists that are effective at critiquing society, that speak truth to power.  Jackson Browne, Morrissey, Springsteen, Chuck D, and on and on have been effective chroniclers of what is going on in society.  They are all in their 50’s and 60’s at this point.  It is not hard to see someone in power using age to not play music, something that is not always thought of as political, in order to effectively silence political dissent.   “Oh we are not going to play anything off of Jackson Browne’s Standing in the Breach because we don’t play music by older artists.”  This is when Jackson Browne released one of the most intelligent albums of last year, which was also highly political on certain tracks.  The same goes for the rest of that list. 

Divide and conquer.   This is another fictitious way of dividing people, who may have similar beliefs, interests, and passions, in a way that is currently possible without looking like censorship.  Chuck D is much older than most pop stars, but he is the one bringing the thunder, preaching change, speaking truth to power.  A disenchanted kid, if they were to discover him, might be inclined to listen to him over the other music choices they are currently being presented with.  That isn’t to say that kids aren’t smart enough to find and seek things out on their own, but they have a better chance of finding someone like Chuck D the more exposure he gets.  Age is one of the last ways you can openly discredit someone without looking like a neanderthal.  

Music Awards Are None of Your Business

Music Awards Are None of Your Business

The above link is a recently published Morrissey rant at www.true-to-you.net, his official site.  It’s long, but full of laughs.  It is an attack on the Brit Awards, though many passages could serve as attacks on any awards show and the modern music business in general.  A sample:

In short, Britain has been encouraged to become a nation of idiots (which, of course, is what it is not). But why has British culture become so debased? Why is it that only ideas-free and factory-farmed ‘personalities’ are encouraged? Is it simply because we are all easier to govern as long as we are free of any content? Well, yes. The sudden, manic rise in loud and overquick camera shots (for a populace presumed to have zero attention span); television sponsorship; persistent sports news for events attended by no one; the obvious lusty dictatorship of the “royal” family (the one and only British institution that we pray for the government to ‘sell off’ – preferably to China)… it all adds up to an underpattern of controlled obedience, and the notion of the BPI awards being handed out by genuine musicologists becomes as ludicrous a concept as witnessing someone on the Brit Awards coming perilously close to actually making a worthwhile point. Meanwhile, if we mourn the unlikely possibility of positive change in pop music, or if we dare suggest that change is even allowable, we are treated like mental patients.

A constant for me, is trying to figure out how the music business feel into such decline.  I not only mean in terms of sales that is partially, if not substantially, due to technology, but also why the artistry and cultural relevance is in decline as well?  To me, it is an endlessly fascinating subject, not only because I am interested in music, but because I, along with many many other people, can sense that aspects of our culture seem in decline.   What are the artistic, economic, political, technological, and cultural forces that are causing this?