Morrissey's 'Autobiography': 10 Things We Learned About Moz
10 key takeaways from Moz's tell-all, from his feelings about the Smiths and his first serious relationship to that time he was almost on "Friends."
Published in the United Kingdom late last week, "Autobiography" is Morrissey's long-awaited life story, written in his own inimitable style, and dishing the dirt on everything from the break-up of seminal British band The Smiths ("it happened as quickly and as unemotionally as this sentence took to describe it") to his personal love life. Here are 10 key takeaways from Moz's new tome.
1. Johnny Marr (Largely) Escapes Morrissey's Wrath.
"It is a matter of finding yourself in possession of the one vital facet that the other lacks but needs," writes Morrissey of his onetime Smiths bandmate and songwriting partner, who escapes relatively unscathed from Morrissey's otherwise vengeful tongue. "In 1982, Johnny appears at Kings Road immaculately be-quiffed and almost carried away by his own zest to make meaningful music," recalls the singer about their life-changing introduction at Morrissey's parent's house. He later describes Marr as an "outstanding and liberating talent."
2. The Smiths' Drummer Mike Joyce Doesn't Get Off So Lightly.
Dubbed "Joyce Iscariot," a large percentage of Morrissey's not-inconsiderable bile is reserved for the former Smiths' drummer, who famously won a 1996 court case over unpaid earnings. "His finances frittered away, Joyce decided to turn to those who had served him generously in the past… "a flea in search of a dog," says the singer of his onetime band mate. "Each man kills the thing he loves, and Joyce killed The Smiths," surmises Morrissey, seemingly putting a definite full stop on the continual rumours of a (full) reunion.
3. Morrissey Was Touched Inappropriately By A Teacher.
"Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools," sung the mighty Moz on The Smiths' classic track "The Headmaster Ritual." Unsurprisingly, he paints a similar hellishly bleak picture of his time at St Mary's Secondary Modern School in Stretford, Greater Manchester, chastising teachers as "notoriously mean disciplinarians." It is, however, his unnerving description of a teacher rubbing anti-inflammatory cream onto his wrist that has grabbed the headlines. "At 14, I understand the meaning of the unnecessarily slow and sensual strokes, with eyes fixed to mine," writes Morrissey about the teacher, who he later describes approaching him after a shower and asking to look at a scar on his stomach. "But his eyes were lower… and for the first time you are forced to consider yourself to be the prize, or the quarry."
4. The Smiths Could Have Come From Denver.
During the late 1970s, several years before The Smiths had formed, Morrissey made several overseas trips to the U.S. to visit his sister Mary, who left Manchester in 1969. It is on one of these "seven-week long" visits to Denver, Colorado that the aspiring singer briefly moves his search for musical accomplices. "I rashly place a fruitless ad in the Rocky Mountain News in search of musicians as despair mounts upon despair," writes Morrissey. "I apply for a job at the ghastly Pathmark, only to be turned down whilst headless mutants are taken on… I cannot burden Mary any longer with my heavy granite shoulders, and I cry myself back to intolerant Manchester."
5. His First Serious Relationship Occurred at Age 35 With a Man.
"For the first time in my life the eternal 'I' becomes 'we'," writes Morrissey about his "whirlwind" two-year relationship with photographer Jake Owen Walters, which begun when the singer was in his mid-thirties. "Socially, we harmonize with the intuitive intimacy that fully communicates across the crowd by series of secretive blinks and winks and raised eyebrows; a concurrent widening of the eyes and Jake would suddenly be outside with the engine running whilst I delicately take leave. There will be no secrets of flesh or fantasy; he is me and I am he."
6. He Later Contemplated Fatherhood.
"We take our place together almost without noticing," states Morrissey about Iran-born, Los Angeles-based Tina Dehghani, who he lovingly paints as a "lifetime constant" and is one of only four names credited in the book's acknowledgements section ("always level"). "Tina and I discuss the unthinkable act of producing a mewling miniature monster," is how Morrissey memorably describes the frightening prospect of a Moz Junior entering the world. The origins and conclusion of this potentially fascinating conversation are left entirely to the reader's imagination.
7. The World Is Full of Crashing Bores (And Morrissey Is One Of Them).
While large portions of "Autobiography" make for an interesting and hugely entertaining read, the 50 or so pages that he dedicates exclusively to 1996's court case over unpaid royalties will test the patience of even the most dedicated Moz-ophile. Relaying in yawn-inducing detail the legal proceedings that led Judge John Weeks to award in favor of Joyce and Smiths' bassist Andy Rourke, Morrissey's bitter and unrelenting cries of injustice provoke little sympathy, only boredom.
8. He Turned Down A Cameo on "Friends."
Invited by his then U.S. label, Reprise Records, to attend a recording of NBC sitcom "Friends," Morrissey is made an offer that he can refuse: "The cast is friendly, and I am immediately taken aside by the scriptwriters and asked if I'd jump in on a newly jumbled plot-line where I appear with the character Phoebe in the Central Perk diner, where I am requested to sing "in a really depressing voice." Within seconds of the proposal, I wind down the fire-escape like a serpent, and it's goodbye to Hollywood yet again."
9. The Singer Almost Got Kidnapped In Mexico.
Following a "nuthouse insane" show in Tijuana in 2007, Morrissey and his party jumped into a car to make the "four-minute skip over the U.S. border." Twenty minutes later, and still in Mexico, their driver suddenly swerves off the freeway. "My security orders a stop, and I jump out as the car drives on" recalls Morrissey, who believes that "insignificant as I am, today's snatch was I, organized by those who obviously didn't realize that my market value wouldn't raise enough money to feed a family of five rug-rats." Then again, his driver might have just got lost.
10. When It Comes To Catty Insults, Morrissey Is Still King.
"Miss Redmond is aging, and will never marry, and will die smelling of attics," writes the author of his primary school teacher – just one in a revolving cast of hundreds to be subject to Morrissey's lacerating bite. Others include David Bowie, who "feeds on the blood of living mammals," British punk singer Siouxsie Sioux (a "physical blancmange that is six parts Kate O'Mara, two parts Myra Hindley and two parts Fenella Fielding"), and "the Duchess of nothing" Sarah Ferguson: "a little bundle of orange crawling out of a frothy dress."