Beware! I bear more grudges than lonely high court judges.
This is a lyric-cum-headline during the infamous Smith’s court case, which Morrissey mentions almost as an example of how he was persecuted during the process and, by extension, through much of his career. After reading Autobiography, I would argue that this is the most accurate headline I have ever read. Perhaps regarding anything, but most certainly regarding Morrissey.
And, that’s not a snap judgement. When I started reading, I was so taken by his writing. Unimaginable – a fantastic writer can, you know, write! Even describing the drab backdrop of Manchester sounds so poetic, hence why it can be sung like this. (Seriously – watch it.)
But then he complained and it never really stopped. He finds fault with everyone, from his Smiths bandmates to the entire entity of the legal system, from Nick Kent and every other journalist he’s come across to multiple press outlets, particularly NME. Don’t forget Rough Trade, Geoff, or the judge who handled the infamous case. But, hey. Over a lifetime, that’s only a moderate list, right? Well, no. Even within the last 15-20 pages he’s introducing new people he comes across, only to lodge his retrospective complaints against them.
It’s almost as if I wanted to read his autobiography to read about him. Heaven forbid.
When he writes about culture (though his focus lies heavily on New York Dolls), he is glorious. He oozes passion and his writing is sublime, and you really feel yourself caught up in it all. But it’s short lived.
I found reading about the Smiths and the trial interesting, but I felt the actual life of the band fly by in a few pages, where I turned pages going “Is he still going on about the trial?” I understand you are frustrated, Moz. I understand exactly why you feel like you’ve been done over – hell, I even agree with you – but people aren’t buying your book to hear you rehash the same complaints over and over.
For an OCD reader in the sense that I like to end each spree at the end of a chapter, this proves a nightmare. It is a 450+ page chapter with no natural stopping points. That’s just a personal nightmare, though.
I am disappointed by this book. It had an amazing promise when you started, and when you got to major career points it was genuinely interesting. More so, his personal life was interesting because of many omissions and generalised comments – it was certainly drawing the attention.
But it felt heavily controlled by chart position. This got #2, that got #2. But what about you, Morrissey? 450+ pages and I feel like I’ve learned very little new, other than the depth of which you hold grudges. This was a Mean Girls Burn Book with a Poe flair.