(Photo Credit - Sam Rayner)
Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Morrissey, alt legend of The Smiths fame, has once again found himself in hot water of his own doing after a string of idiotic statements. My question is, are we really that surprised? The man who once called the Chinese, "a subspecies", Morrissey has been criticized recently for wearing a For Britain pin (a far right conservative political group) and making statements that, "everyone would prefer to be with their own race." Morrissey's support of the far-right group goes beyond fashion, as he's also vocalized support for the group that has been compared to Neo-Nazis and has been featured on their website. Look it, if you're into alt music, I'm sure none of this is news to you and it's something we've been through before with the troubled vocalist. I'm not going to rehash all of it here.
With all this in mind, let me tell a little bit about me. I've been an unabashed fan of The Smiths and Morrissey for a long time. Much of this is because of Morrissey himself. As a former vocalist and lyricist, I have always found him to be one of the most evocative and emotional songwriters of our time. There's something about writing about the morose and putting a fun melody on it that just gets me every time and the Morrissey/Johnny Marr partnership was absolutely second-to-none in this regard. So much of Morrissey's music has been with me through my life. It has helped me with depression and mental health concerns. Just to know that someone is there with you can be comforting. "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" is undoubtedly one of the greatest alternative songs ever created.
When I first learned of The Smiths, (from my wonderful wife who would always say, "Morrissey's a douche but they're good"), I was utterly consumed. I had to listen to anything and everything. There was a tragedy about a band that broke up before its time never to return, not even for a cash grab. Maybe the egos were too big...who knows? I digress...The point is, I loved the music.
But recently, I have found myself with a pain in my chest and a knot in my stomach. With each word that falls out of Morrissey's mouth, each pompous action, and every flagrant display of "ism" that he engages in, I find myself experiencing a dilemma. I am someone who advocates for social justice in my life because I fully acknowledge that this world is rigged for a few and I cannot stand idly by and watch others suffer, whether it's in my backyard or across the globe. With this in mind, I have recently done a lot of soul searching regarding the issue and have thought a lot about it. There are a lot of variables at play, but it basically boils down to one question. Can you separate the person from the music?
At the end of the day, I have decided I cannot. It'd be like me trying to advocate continuing to go to a restaurant because, "this bigot chef makes an awesome soufflé!" I. Just. Can't. Do. It. Let me be clear, this is an extremely personal decision I have made for myself and not at all an argument for you to do the same. All I know is that I try to be socially conscious in other aspects of my life, so why not in one of the biggest areas of my life (music)?
Look, I realize that no one is perfect. But perhaps one of the most influential factors in play for me is the lack of contrition by Morrissey after he faces backlash for these statements. Some feel he does it intentionally to be a provocateur. I say there are better ways of doing that. Some say he does it to stay relevant. I say your music should do that. I don't care why he does it. I care that he doesn't care.
I have decided to take action on this, as I was scheduled to see Morrissey and Interpol in the fall. I won't be going to this show and will be getting rid of my tickets. I do this with the full knowledge that Morrissey has been on my bucket list of concerts forever, but again, this is the right decision for me. Are Morrissey's recent actions the straw that broke the camel's back? No, not even a little. This is me realizing something I should have a while ago. Hopefully, I'm better off now. I know it's over.