❚ A NEAT OUTCOME RESULTED from last week’s Radio 4 interview with Morrissey, former singer with The Smiths, the UK’s leading indie band of the 80s, who broke up in 1987. After the reluctant interviewee said that he was “very very surprised to be making music today” he added that, had his music career failed, “I would have become a novelist”. He then revealed that he had written his memoirs and was in the progess of redrafting his 660-page manuscript. He dared to suggest: “I’d like it to go to Penguin, but only if they published it as a classic. I can’t see why not — a contemporary Penguin Classic — within the next year or so.”
By Good Friday Penguin Books, creators of the modern paperback, were trying to head off a bidding war between rival publishers by announcing that it is indeed willing to publish his autobiography. A spokeswoman told The Independent: “There is a natural fit between Morrissey’s sensibility, his artistic achievements and Penguin Classics. A book could be published as a Penguin Classic because it is a classic in the making. It’s something we would like to discuss with Morrissey.”
There is no minimum time limit before a book can be considered a Penguin Classic, but the list embraces people or works that have “caused scandal and political change, broken down barriers, social and sexual”. However, a leading article in the same day’s paper pours cold water on the mighty ego of the singer they call Bigmouth: “Sadly for Morrissey, it’s the accumulated judgement of posterity, rather than authors, which determines what literature survives and what gets pulped.”
Nevertheless, according to The Independent report: “Morrissey is not short of suitors. The publishing director of Faber and Faber sent the singer an open letter begging him to join the ‘house of Eliot’, a reference to T S Eliot, the giant of 20th-century poetry. Lee Brackstone wrote: ‘We feel very strongly that you belong in this company. You deserve Faber and the love we can give you. History demands it; destiny commands it’.”
These events coincide with today’s UK release of a new album, Very Best of Morrissey, a 20-track download and CD of remastered solo classics (also as 18 tracks on vinyl, EMI/Major Minor). A bonus DVD, which includes eleven remastered videos (three of which are previously unavailable on DVD) including Boxers, Sunny, and The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get, plus I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty taken from the Jonathan Ross TV show in December 1990.
As from tomorrow the 12-minute interview with R4’s Front Row is available on iPlayer. Morrissey deals briskly with pressing issues such as ageing (“many of the early songs were like mating calls and I have to think seriously about singing them now”), the problem of having the prime minister as a fan (“no I’ve never met him”) and, inevitably, a Smiths reunion (this is not the place for spoilers). And yes, Johnny Marr gets a mention.
Update: Listen to favourably selected highlights from a frankly tiresome interview between a cranky Morrissey and a very patient Dermot O’Leary (BBC R2 on April 30, 2011) as the evasive singer winds him up while discussing their Irish roots and musical idols, a UK and Scandinavian tour, an album of new material and the “mutants” of Coronation Street. We hear two clips from his Very Best Of CD, Girl Least Likely To, and Interlude: The next day Moz told True To You why he had been so cantankerous: “I’m sorry I made the O’Leary radio interview so difficult but I was in a foul mood, having spent a full week surrounded by the royal dreading. England may very well be a Windsor dictatorship, but, PR weddings aside, it is usually quite bearable.” He also complains about his familiar views on the British monarchy being cut from the earlier R4 interview.
SUMMER TOUR DATES
➢ Listed at True-to-you.net — Morrissey’s nine-date UK summer tour runs from Perth June 15–Plymouth June 30, plus Glastonbury Festival on June 24, and Hop Farm Music Festival July 2.