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Douglas Coupland vs. Morrissey

Morrissey_2Douglas Coupland (of Generation X fame) pens an engaging Guardian non-interview with Morrissey, ahead of his latest album release, Ringleader of the Tormentors. I say non-interview because it takes eight long paragraphs before we stop hearing about Coupland and start hearing about Morrissey.

But longtime Smiths and Morrissey fans will be pleased, because there are a few revealing nuggets (well, as about as revealing as you're going to get with the notoriously private singer).

Among them are the physical — Moz's gigantic head (Coupland describes it as a Charlie Brown parade float), his soft voice (meant to discourage future replication of his interviews), as well as some insight into what goes on in that large head — his warning that most eBay autographs are fakes, his tendency to blurt out strange phrases, his dislike for contemporary pop culture, and the fact that he actually seems (if the lyrics to his new album are true) to be having sex.

This would be a revelation to fans who have followed the avowedly chaste singer for years. Coupland also says his "dazzling and endlessly listenable" album (produced by Tony Visconti) is one of his best ever.

He's left L.A. for Rome and the move seems to have done him some good, says Coupland, yet Morrissey will most likely always remain an enigma, even to himself:

"You can feel liberation shooting out from Morrissey's body like lightning bolts, but it's also funny to think that for 46 years in his head he's been trying to pass himself off as normal. Huh? The man defines eccentricity. Oscar Wilde is correct: the last thing we ever understand in life truly is the way that others perceive us."

Douglas Coupland Meets Morrissey [guardian]

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  1. hmmmm....does the above picture mean the lyric from 'The Queen Is Dead' will be altered to "...That's nothing---you should hear me play violin!"? I'm a big fan of Tony Visconti's production work with T.Rex, Sparks and Bowie, and am looking forward to hearing his contributions to the new Moz album.

    Posted by: zinc alloy | Mar 21, 2006 8:32:10 PM

  2. I've never gotten into Morrissey or The Smiths (not for any reason other than I just haven't), so I don't really understand why this man is so iconoclastic to so many (especially gays). However, being a child of the 80's (his and the Smith's "heyday",I would guess), I'm sure I know some of his music and don't even realize.

    Posted by: Bobby Alexander | Mar 21, 2006 8:48:30 PM

  3. God, that Morrisey look horrid holding that violin!

    Posted by: violin-teacher | Mar 21, 2006 10:13:00 PM

  4. ...just saw him in Texas as SXSW and he was on top of his game. it was an amazing concert.

    Posted by: chimpathy | Mar 21, 2006 10:32:45 PM

  5. Bobby, why is Morrissey a gay icon?

    How about the fact the lyrics to the b-side of the first Smiths single Handsome Devil go:

    All the streets are crammed with things
    Eager to be held
    I know what hands are for
    And I'd like to help myself
    You ask me the time
    But I sense something more
    And I would like to give you
    What I think you're asking for
    You handsome devil

    Does it make sense now? :-)

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Mar 21, 2006 10:57:23 PM

  6. Ah - celibacy was the first victim of the continental Christian Reformation. The English Reformation also adopted it, until the Tractarian Movement in the late nineteenth century reintroduced it with minimal acceptance initially.

    Celibacy in Christendom actually began in the Eastern Churches. Yes, the oldest monastery (male) is 1800 plus years in existence, and is part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    The Protestant Reformers were, interestingly, spiritual progeny of Early Christians who began the first "Puritanical" movement. St. Paul is primarily responsible...for even sex in marriage was disdained, and salvable only in the prospect or reality of proceation. Hence the end of re-creational sexuality without the pro-creational aspect found in Genesis.

    You know that I would tie this to both same-sex marriage and their new campaign against same-sex couple or single adoptions, eh?

    They initially won that fight in the Netherlands and Belgium and lost it from the inception in Canada and Spain. They won that fight earlier when civil partnerships were instituted in many European nations, including the UK. This year and late last year, the Netherlands and Belgium gave their married same-sex couples the right to adopt.

    The Fuhrer Papen has taken the lead in this last attack effort. He has met with the Methodist Bush (with Catholic brother Jeb) and the Mormon Romney to co-ordinate efforts to give Catholic Charities the right to discriminate against gay couples and singles in adopting children. They- the Roman Catholic clergy - the paragon of virtue where children are concerned. The paragon of virtue where celibacy is concerned. The paragon of virtue where active homosexual prelates and priests are scapegoated for their paedophilic clergy.

    Posted by: Raymond | Mar 22, 2006 5:04:40 AM

  7. I don't believe Morrissey practices (or as the new case may be "practiced") celibacy for any religious reasons, Raymond (if that is what you are inferring; I can’t quite tell from your post).

    While on his last album he did sing, "I have forgiven you, Jesus." Morrissey never seemed to be a proponent of any organized religion. For example here is a quote by Morrissey on the church:

    "I mean the very idea of just going to church anyway is really quite absurd. I always felt that it was really like the police, certainly in this country at any rate, just there to keep the working classes humble and in their place. Because of course nobody else but the working class pays any attention to it. I really feel quite sick when I see the Pope giving long, overblown, inflated lectures on nuclear weapons and then having tea with Margaret Thatcher. To me it's total hypocrisy. And when I hear the Pope completely condemning working class women for having abortions and condemning nobody else... to me the whole thing is entirely class ridden, it's just really to keep the working classes in perpetual fear and feeling total guilt."

    Posted by: RP | Mar 22, 2006 8:12:37 AM

  8. RP,

    Morrissey was born into a practising RC family. He abandoned his Catholic faith, but has difficulty abandoning " cultural identification " because it is also tied to his ethnicity and personal orientations of his life.

    It is difficult, even reading and analysing the quote you posted, to fully understand if it is not merely a theological passive aggression.

    Posted by: Raymond | Mar 22, 2006 12:16:54 PM

  9. Well. Morrissey's decision to be celibate has been debated by music geeks for years. There is no definitive reason ever given by Morrissey that I know (as far as I know he’s remained coy), so I can't assume to know his personal reasons.
    Also, the effects of religion on Morrissey’s decisions are for Morrissey to know, and until he divulges his reasoning to me personally (which I seriously doubt) I will not assume any specific pretext for his choices.
    I was simply quoting one example (of many) that gives me the impression that Morrissey is not a devoutly religious person in any regards; ergo, I doubt that religion is his reasoning for celibacy. Of course, I am not Morrissey, so I could easily be wrong. Like I alluded to earlier though, other than Morrissey himself, who knows?

    Posted by: RP | Mar 22, 2006 4:30:45 PM

  10. Ringleader of the Tormentors is an important work, and will hopefully help some to see and feel in a new way.. I may even cry and value my emotion even more sitting on the bench on the bridge glad another really good recording came out to get me through these dreadful days of sorry redneck Nashville TN

    Posted by: moptopmouse john eric | Mar 22, 2006 7:31:25 PM

  11. "to me the whole thing is entirely class ridden, it's just really to keep the working classes in perpetual fear and feeling total guilt."

    Well, religion has been used since time immemorial to keep the working class content with their lot in life: "It's God's will" and all that, and to put out the idea that suffering in this world is irrelevant because if you just believe in the baby Jesus, there's a paradise awaiting you. That kind of thing is quite common and has been used to keep people happy in their squalor, to not question the powers that be.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Mar 22, 2006 8:01:31 PM

  12. Point taken, RP Peace ! (grin)

    Posted by: Raymond | Mar 23, 2006 6:29:30 AM

  13. I like what Henry wrote and I agree totally.. I love this blog 'Towleroad'.. truly the best..

    Posted by: john eric moptopmouse | Mar 23, 2006 7:39:11 PM

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