Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Feature: Our Mozzer's essay on the metamorphosis of the person formerly known as Steven Morrissey into the artiste Morrissey reproduced here.
Sunday, 21 August 2011
An Essay On The Beginnings of a New Man
The nineteen eighties were passing me by. Snarling androgyny, the dullish glamour of those sickly pale-thin creatures in scarlet lippy and girlish belts juxtaposed with crunching guitars - T Rex, The Dolls and Ziggy Stardust - had faded gracelessly into handfuls of black earth, rock 'n’roll retirement, and tie-wearing early 80s chic respectively. The cheaply-assembled but eagerly-deployed scud missile that was British punk seemed to detonate unexpectedly in mid-air, causing chaos, panic and the odd ill-advised trip to the barber’s, but surprisingly little lasting structural damage. As the ash clouds of punk spilled over and fell, gathering like anti-snowflakes on Manchester’s light-absorbing grey paving stones, bringing down as they fell over weeks and then months our studiedly vague aspirations for a slightly different world, the two-up two-downs remained indignant. They seemed to peer up over the brutal urban wasteland – all ersatz municipal parkland, stubborn decaying semis and that mild, nauseating smog that was the Manchester air - wondering what might come next. What would come next? Nothing at all.
Winter 1982. Manchester seemed glassier than ever, all pale angries, and pale sads, and pale cruelties. The death of punk had informed me of the true power of music – which is that it means absolutely nothing. Aestheticism as pure as any Wildean short story, utterly devoid of a moral; music is about beauty and - Being a Pop Star-? Being a pop star is about being fascinating. If you cannot be fascinating, then be handsome. If you cannot be handsome, may I suggest The X Factor Auditions?
In 1982, intention was all that I had. Wintriness breeds wintriness, as a writer once wrote. When the soul lives in a glum rock box and the air is frostier than any half-remembered June day-excursion to Scarborough, the beauty of the freezing cold is all that one possesses. Sycamore tree leafless and crippled leans, like stag antlers bored into frozen top soil; green frog-eye Wellington boots scurry for grip on un-gritted roads; small bluish hand enshrined in fuliginous fingers, glinting under raw sodium lights; the Arndale centre like some oafish soul-cemetery, sucking in the human spirit like coke through a straw, and twisting it into a walking, breathing, cacophonous death. Snow fell that winter. And I made my plans.
The room was probably not as small as I remember. It had that lived-in smell which is inevitable when one never leaves: this I did my best to disguise with scattered rose petals – roses were an undeserved gift from one to oneself, or otherwise nicked from innumerable tiny-but-prim front gardens on the estate. Of course in winter the gardens were as barren as the singer who filled my ears and tugged at my tear ducts like lovelessness itself: Nico. In the absence of red rose petals or white rose petals, orange peel – always in good supply in our house – would adorn the radiator for days, even when, as was more often than not the case, they were switched off. Me? I stayed in and wrote furiously. The New York Dolls thing; the James Dean thing: they passed effortlessly by and yet without any real sense of destiny. Milky, embattled, frozen prose followed. It drifted imperceptibly from the pen, just like one of the many snowstorms that murky Thatcherite November-December, until it no longer resembled prose at all. The first songs were born entirely by accident. This I have always put down to fate.
As I wrote, I would gaze up at the Marc Bolan poster over my bed, pore over the horribly cream-coloured wood chip and wish it would simply disappear; I would crank up the volume on my plasticky record player; it cost £11.30 from a second hand shop in Moss Side called Andy’s (I still have the receipt). And as the stylus hopped over the worn groove, I would sink into Diana Dors, Johnny Rotten, Ziggy Stardust and The Sparks. The natural ageing process of those scratchy records implored me to listen in a way that no horse-throated geography teacher ever could.
The joy of music is that it allows one to dream, which in turn allows one to find that grain of hope. Hope is not a moral; it is a life-force. A good song is as abstract as a dream or nightmare, tethered to reality by frayed threads, liable to snap at any given moment. The song drags one out of bed, it pushes one back into bed and it fills the short period in between. The song – to the true lover of music – is birth, death, and that other part we bravely call ‘life.’ Most people cannot live. They are immobilized: by the fear of rejection, by the self-loathing they endure, by a slim conviction that they are unable to love another; and more than anything else by a crippling sense of devaluation imposed by this world on all of us, unless we fit the idealized notion of what a human being should – these days, must - be. These poor souls shuffle, mumble and crumble through the years like shadows. I knew very, very early on that I was one of those souls.
Well, what could I do? I could spend my life with the shadows, pretending to live: a man with a life-sentence to serve, which never quite materializes. Or I could transform myself into a symbol and give up entirely on real life, as they call it. The song becomes the living; the singing becomes the life; the haircut becomes the material body – fading over the years but never quite leaving. And I began just then to write about life the way it really is. I began to write songs for those who cannot live – which is almost everybody. At least in England it is. While the rest of the world at least attempts to live life, we English apologise and queue politely. This – girls and boys – is why we’re so good at the old art thing. Art is nothing but a survival instinct for the English.
When one is desperate and cold, the hardest thing to feel is hope; and yet precisely – and only - when one is desperate and cold, hope is utterly life-transforming. To have absolutely nothing except hope was what sustained me through those nights. When you’re young, tears are precious. They seem to contain the very essence of life. As my tears landed on that newish pine desk, slipping into the cracks in the useless veneer, in that bland, desolate box room, the Manchester rain pattered on the windows and the roof tiles. The flowing motion of water, of rain, of tears is something that can be found in those early songs, as real to me as blood itself. And just as essential.
By Christmas 1982 I was a jobless waif in my mid-20s possessed of the frankly ludicrous hope of becoming a singer. In the grimness of day, of course, I had no real prospect of becoming one. My hair was all wrong, my clothes were all wrong, my skin, and - my face? As I set about willing into existence the pop star whose name I did not yet know, I gathered up every mossy pebble of a death-wish, each vocal hook I had ever murmured, fewer than five literary influences, and my eternally shattered faith in love. I would sing-whisper in those days, which I pretended was in honour of my beloved Nico but in truth was probably to avoid being overheard by Mam in the room downstairs. I did not breathe a breath of fresh air for more than two months. The windows rarely opened and the curtains never twitched. I had lost weight; my family members were worried for my wellbeing; over my shoulders hung the clothes of an anorexic teenage girl. And then finally out of that bedroom wobbled, and then stumbled, and then fell a singer called Morrissey without a record deal, without a band and without a decent pair of shoes.
NB due to the large numbers of new visitors to Our Mozzer's 'ironic homepage' we suggest a few links below to serve as an introduction to this website/page.
Aunty Mozzer - the agony aunt with a difference
David Tseng's lifetime concert ban appeal meeting with Moz, Boz, Moz's mam and Mikey Bracewell, novelist - helps explain the transformation from parody site into news site with satirical content and explains away the 'deliberate mistakes' in the essay.
The Daily Mozzer
Russell Brand and Wossy host a Q&A at the Dorchester where Moz talks of his new-found respect for Justin Bieber but provides some constructive criticism with regard to developing more meaningful lyrics.
Naked spot-the-difference featuring Morrissey and 'the lads.'
Excerpt from Mozzer's autobiography - he tries to meet Lady Gaga, paying for access, only to discover it's actually Gwen Stefani.
The wit, the poetry, the genius that is Morrissey on Twitter - Our Mozzer's favourite comments.
Welcome to the world's first self-aware celebrity satire website - our Mozzer's ironic homepage. If you truly wish to understand, simply find the 'first page' on the links column to the right of the blog and read forwards from the first article. Few have and fewer have understood.