Johnny Marr talks about a possible The Smiths reunion.
When Neutral Milk Hotel announced they were reuniting for a tour, I didn’t lose my mind with joy.
It’s not that I’m not excited about the reunion, because I am. I think it’s just that I have a complete aversion to reunion tours now. Perhaps I’m taking a very crunchy, romantic self-help approach to my view on this, but they call it a break-up because it’s broken? And I know Neutral Milk Hotel didn’t technically “break up” as it were, but still. I can’t tell you how much money and time I’ve spent traveling and going to shows that bands have touted as THE FINAL TOUR SEE US NOW OR SEE US NEVER AGAIN WE’RE CONSIDERING MASS SUICIDE AT THE FINAL DATE BECAUSE THAT’S HOW SERIOUS THIS IS. I then buy the DVDs of the final mass suicide show (spoiler alert: nobody died), to then have the band reunite years later to pompous fanfare. I find it maddening, yet I still feel myself drawn to see the reunion because they’re one of my favorite bands or artists. We as fans still reward them even though they pulled the classic ex-boyfriend/girlfriend move of when you decide you’re feeling good enough to get back out there and start seeing someone new, they call or text and suddenly you’re emotionally compromised. And I’m left thinking: but I thought you left me with my memories and the music?
That’s why I’m comforted by the fact that a The Smiths reunion is almost impossible. Both Morrissey and Johnny Marr have gone on record saying just as much. The Smiths had a very acrimonious split and have kept the rancor alive in the nearly 30 years after the split, which mirrors the tumultuous way they dealt with each other during their tenure.
When the lead singer of your group dismisses you in a manner that was a plot on Sex in the City, it’s bad. Andy Rourke’s heroin addiction led to his dismissal from the band by a note in 1986. In Rourke’s own words from an interview in Mojo magazine: “Morrissey left a little postcard on the windscreen of my car, like a parking ticket. It said, ‘Andy — you have left The Smiths. Goodbye and good luck, Morrissey.’” The dismissal lasted only weeks (the band did retain the replacement bassist Craig Gannon) but it left a scar.
“After I’d stopped crying,” Rourke said in the same interview, “I phoned Johnny and said, What’s going on? He was like, ‘Er… you’d better come round.’ Johnny was really good — he helped me through it, he was very supportive — but he had to abide by the judge’s decision. That was the low point of my life, really. As far as I knew, it was permanent.”
A year after that dispute, the band was dealing with managerial problems and Johnny Marr was dealing with substance abuse. Rumors flew about Morrissey being unhappy with Marr’s projects with other musicians and Marr being unhappy with Morrissey’s musical direction. Marr took a sabbatical from the band in June 1987 and left permanently in July. Rough Trade confirmed the split in August. Their final record, Stangeways Here We Come, was released in September.
“I’ve got lots of photos and loads of video footage of us making that album,” Marr said. “You can see us talking and having a laugh. But towards the end of the band, when we weren’t doing music, we weren’t able to be comfortable with each other any more. I was unhappy, and I didn’t want to just harbour all this unhappiness and sulk and run away. But I was into making that record. And I love almost every track on that album.”
Two years after the split, a royalties dispute between Morrissey/Marr and Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce emerged. Rourke and Joyce alleged that they were treated as session musicians because both Morrissey and Marr each received 40 percent of the band’s royalties, leaving only 10 percent each for the other band members. Rourke settled out of court for a sum payment of £83,000 and 10 percent royalties, renouncing all further claims. Joyce continued with the legal proceedings which reached the High Court of Justice in 1996. The court sided with Rourke and he received a sum of £1 million in previous royalties and 25 percent from the point of the ruling.
No love was lost. Morrissey has said, “I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that’s saying something for a vegetarian.” He’s also said that the band has been offered astronomical amounts of money. Marr has said that the reasons that the band doesn’t reunite are “abstract” and “nothing to do with money.”
In the end, we all deal with separating ourselves from the toxic environments we place ourselves in. I admire them for saying that cash isn’t a motivation (which may be why I get annoyed with bands breaking up to reunite dramatically). In the end, I can search YouTube for live clips, I can listen to bootlegs. I can enjoy Morrissey and Marr’s solo work and I can also listen to Strangeways and still feel complete with my memories of the record and the music contained in it. I don’t feel that I’m missing out on an experience because – could it possibly be as good as the expectation and the desire? Like with exes blowing up your phone, it has more potential for future heartbreak than it does with a loving reunion.
Johnny Marr said it best in 2001: “I think when something’s over, events have a way of conspiring to make you realise that it’s over. As cryptic as that sounds, it’s true. Things would happen and I’d be like, ‘Am I going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life?’ And it was a very, very emotional band. It’s in the music. The relationship between me and Morrissey was very emotional. It wasn’t volatile in that we would row or anything like that, but it was so intense that if rocked slightly it would be a big deal.”
This awesome cake was at a Morrissey birthday party/DJ night last night at Zanzabar, in Louisville, KY. Photo provided by my friend Eric Condon, taken by Sarah Bonifer.
That being said, a very unhappy birthday to Steven Patrick Morrissey who is 54 today.
Morrissey discusses the Latino connection during a Telemundo news spot.
Preview for the documentary “Passions Just Like Mine” which explores the connection between Latinos and Morrissey.
Morrissey was going to have a show in Wichita Falls, Texas on November 28, 2012.
I know this not because I have an interest in the social calendar of the Texoma area, but because of the giant Kay Yeager Coliseum sign by the highway that I could see from the hotel room where my parents and I stayed as we experienced the last days of my grandmother’s life and her funeral.
One of my oldest jokes—one I can always guarantee a laugh from music nerds—is that one of the ways I stereotypically live up to my Latin heritage is my unabashed love of the Smiths and Morrissey’s solo work. I say Latin because if you ask members of my family, you get conflicting answers about our lineage. We’re Spanish, no we’re Mexican. We’re Spanish on my grandmother’s side and Mexican on my grandfather’s. In any case, I’m biracial. Being biracial has had a big impact – my cultural identity has been something that has cycled as a point of worry over and over in my life. I never seemed to fit in with either side of my family. While in Texas with my mother’s family, it was a comfort to be surrounded by people who look exactly like you, but might have a completely separate worldview. Whereas on my dad’s side of the family, I stick out like I was bussed there.
My grandmother was a tiny, tough woman who had twelve children. She was our matriarch, the glue that held all of us together. We all lovingly called her “ma’am,” no matter if you were her child or grandchild or great-grandchild. Even though there were so many of us, she remembered and loved each and every one of us.
The day after my grandmother died, my mother, one of my aunts and I went to the funeral home. We were allowed to prepare her hair before the viewing. My aunt had my grandmother’s brush and a stack of bobby pins so we could put her hair in her signature bun. My grandmother always had jet black hair and wore it in a bun that reached Ronnie Spector heights since before I was born, but her hair was grey and coarser than I remembered. My aunt brushed her hair, spritzed it and pinned it up the best we could despite her prone position. When we finished, we all stood there looking at her. My aunt broke the silence by saying, “Looking good, ma’am!” I never can pass up the chance to make a tense moment funny. “You know what they say, ma’am,” I said, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.”
This is me, Kim Huston, the lady writing about Morrissey this week. I’m not posting a photo of myself because of vanity, but to ask about my fellow Morrissey fans about who you are.
I’ve always felt as a devout fan of Morrissey’s work, you have to defend yourself somewhat. I’ve never understood that. If someone said they were obsessed with, let’s say, the Clash—no one questions a person’s depression level. But with the Smiths and Morrissey, people always seem to question you as if you decided to date that kid who played Cher’s son in that movie Mask—“Really? Him? That’s your choice?” And you find yourself in a huff, stopping yourself from saying things like “You don’t know him like I do! He’s smart and funny and well, honestly, what do you know about it?” Morrissey fans aren’t the stereotyped wallflowers everyone thinks. I love the NBA, I volunteer, I’m loud, and I love to laugh. A lot.
I was one of the people that was canceled on three times for the Flint, Michigan tour date this year. Moz said he’d play Flint if it killed him, but in the end, he canceled the entire tour. I was obviously disappointed after each cancellation, but the thing I feel worst about is that I couldn’t meet any cool Morrissey superfans like the ones I’d encountered at my first show.
It’s the thing that I like most about being a Morrissey fan: the built-in kinship and the diversity among his fans.
Do you love Moz? If so, tell me what was your first Morrissey show like. Where were you when you first heard The Queen is Dead or Suedehead? What makes you a Morrissey fan?
Because until he tours again, who knows when we’ll see each other again?
This post ran previously on Unbest
Royal Oak Music Theater
December 18, 2011
If I learned one thing from this show, it’s that I’m not the Morrissey fan I thought I was.
I am a fan of his entire discography; I have a Morrissey nightlight. I thought that was commitment.
I thought going to a Morrissey show alone might be the most depressing thing I might ever do, but it turned out to be one of the most jubilant shows I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime. As an added bonus, I got accepted into a group of super fans by just showing up and asserting myself.
I arrived at the theater as doors opened and there was already a sizeable line. I made my way into the theater and immediately went to the stage to stake my place. Within twenty minutes, two gentleman pulled the “Oh, hey I see my friends!” gambit to get closer to the stage where their tall friend was camped (I know this trick, it’s no one’s first time at the rodeo) directly in front of me.
Despite my lack of intimidating size, much like any grab-bag third world dictator you can think of, I can have an air of authority of someone much taller. When those gentlemen asserted their spots, I loudly and sarcastically proclaimed, “Well I’m super glad I got here really early so I’d have no chance of seeing.”
The shorter of the two gentleman, Nick, looked at me and said, “Oh don’t worry, we’ll move so you can see.” He was wearing a jean jacket with a large Morrissey patch adhered with safety pins on the back of it. Some time passed and he looked to me again and asked, “Is this your first show?”
When I replied “Yes,” his eyes lit up. “It’s going to get really crazy up here, but you’re going to love it.”