After a last minute content disagreement almost kept it off the shelves, Morrissey‘s new memoir came out today in the U.K. and Europe, and the BBC has a run down of some of its more tantalizing and revealing moments, from Moz’s by now standard railings against any and everything from the legal system to the music business, to the revelation that his first full relationship with a man didn’t happen until his thirties.
Although the former Smiths frontman has kept quiet about his private life, he was frank about the significance of his relationship with Jake Walters, writing, “For the first time in my life the eternal ‘I’ becomes ‘we,’ as, finally, I can get on with someone.”
Morrissey includes a handful of other sweet moments, like Johnny Marr’s first words to him after they met at a Patti Smith gig – “You’ve got a funny voice” – and the singer even cops to not initially liking one of the band’s most famous tracks, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” – a song he suggested to Marr they keep it off The Queen Is Dead. “It is often a relief to be wrong,” he writes.
Not that Morrissey’s memoir is all flowers and sober reflections on the past. There’s plenty of stuff Moz doesn’t like. For instance, he calls the Smiths’ label Rough Trade records “brutally drab” and claims that during their initial meeting with the label’s founder, Geoff Travis waved him and Marr away without hearing a note. Marr had to pin him to a chair, Moz recalls, adding that Travis “would have found himself wandering from kaftan to kaftan” if it weren’t for the Smiths who “saved his life and made it count in the long run.”
Morrissey also takes jabs at former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, who sought 25 percent of the Smiths’ earnings in a mid-Nineties legal battle, as well as John Weeks, the judge who oversaw the case. Dubbing him “the pride of pipsqueakery,” Moz rebuked the judge for his “immutable understanding of the world of the Smiths,” recalling a blunder where the judge mistakenly declared that the band had formed in 1992.
Another peculiar anecdote involving the British government came after the release of Morrissey’s solo debut, Viva Hate, whose song “Margaret on the Guillotine” prompted a special inquiry into whether the singer actually posed a threat to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “I am drilled and recorded on tape for one hour under the penetrating glare of Special Branch,” Morrissey writes.
Morrissey also wrote candidly about his childhood in Manchester, particularly the Catholic school he attended where the teachers were often cruel and each day was “Kafka-esque in its nightmare.” While one gym teacher, he wrote, would stare at the boys in the showers, Morrissey remembered vividly another for the way he rubbed anti-inflammatory cream on his wrist after a fall: “At 14, I understand the meaning of the unnecessarily slow and sensual strokes, with eyes fixed to mine.”