182 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review - by Morrissey
Train, heave on to Euston. Awaiting the launch of my Autobiography, Penguin Books have incarcerated me in a tawdry penthouse flat at 6 Grosvenor Square. The harsh London light through the floor-to-ceiling windows peels my eyeballs, my feet wince at the coarse touch of the cashmere and angora carpet, and as I numb the pain with a third Grey Goose, my mind drifts back to...
Published 4 months ago by Rough Diamond
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite
He's the only pop star who my heart still beats a little bit strangely for, so a read of this was inevitable. The wish is that he'd been guided to elaborating the first third, an absorbing impressionistic swipe around his childhood and Manchester full of tantalising anecdotal nuggets, then the Smiths as the great leap free, and that would have done: instead the group is...
Published 1 month ago by Stuart Wilson
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite,
He's the only pop star who my heart still beats a little bit strangely for, so a read of this was inevitable. The wish is that he'd been guided to elaborating the first third, an absorbing impressionistic swipe around his childhood and Manchester full of tantalising anecdotal nuggets, then the Smiths as the great leap free, and that would have done: instead the group is tied up and abandoned in about thirty pages, and then after a little solo life we're into the Court Case, where the writing slumps and it's a bit like peering through the blinds of a Dickensian studio where a gibbering old man fling documents in the air and says, Look, I was right, look, I was right, over and over again. Then it's a final 100 or so pages about audience love on endless tours and that's it. You can see why the court thing obsesses him - having escaped his uniformed comprehensive inferno, suddenly, there he is, back in the schoolmasterish world of British justice, being smacked down by Authority yet again. But it's hard to understand why a wealthy and intelligent man couldn't get decent legal representation and appears to be left floundering with an elusive bunch of half-wits. The big gap is a glimpse of the engine room where the Morrissey/Marr chemistry took fire and blazed down the building: the creative process is hard to describe, but if that's what makes certain lives worth living, then for god's sake, at least have a go. It could really have been worthy of its publishing house; but, as it is, not quite.
182 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review - by Morrissey,
Train, heave on to Euston. Awaiting the launch of my Autobiography, Penguin Books have incarcerated me in a tawdry penthouse flat at 6 Grosvenor Square. The harsh London light through the floor-to-ceiling windows peels my eyeballs, my feet wince at the coarse touch of the cashmere and angora carpet, and as I numb the pain with a third Grey Goose, my mind drifts back to Nan's tenement at 69 Saddleworth Cuttings, Strangeways. Here, behind the rainy Salford Road, I would watch the damp grey wallpaper peeling slowly off the walls, licking my wounds after yet another day of casual brutality from the callous, sadistic teachers of Rusholme Secondary Modern, where the education was never modern, and my needs and feelings were always secondary.
The doorbell rings. Is it Jobraith? Is it The New York Dolls, on bended knee, begging me to become their lead singer? No, alas, it is the frightful and blancmange-like Debbie, my PA from Penguin, clutching an advance copy of my book. My heart sinks from wounds already inflicted and wounds still to come. Already the Penguin philistines have rejected my glamorous cover art (a black and white Alain Delon posing naked over Oscar Wilde's grave, drinking a glass of milk). Typical. I tear disinterestedly at the brown paper, fearing the worst. The cover is predictably a travesty. Although it mentions my name (in an insultingly small typeface) and features a dismissively small photograph of me, over 50% of the surface area is utterly wasted and makes no reference to me at all. Not one. It is yet another nail hammered through my palm by the uncaring powers that be. I disdainfully hand the feeble effort back to the vile Debbie, who understands nothing, and who still reeks of the sizzling flesh which she has oh-so-obviously been cramming into her flabby chops at - shudder- MacDonalds. The yawning grave opens its maws, awaiting me. Then I snatch the book back, and inspect the flyleaf, magnifying glass in hand. And there it is - THERE IT IS. 'The moral right of the author has been asserted'. Yet will Judge John Weeks deign to listen? Inevitably, Mick Joyce will 'assume' he is due 25% of the revenue, and justice will once again crush my limp white body beneath its cruel, remorseless wheels. And where is Johnny Marr? Nowhere to be seen, as usual, but smirking as he exits yet again through the rear door.
David Bowie says my Autobiography is 'wonderful', and for me this is the apotheosis of a journey that began amidst the slums and loafing oafs of sixties Stretford. Penguin assure me it will be Number 1 on the Amazon bestsellers chart, and yet they have made no effort to promote it, and my name is to all intents invisible in the uncaring and hostile national press. I check my computer, and then I recoil aghast. My Autobiography is Number 2, behind Sir Alex Ferguson's. Oh Manchester, Manchester, so much to answer for! At last my corpse is ready for the abattoir. Heaven knows, I'm miserable now.
93 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down. But for all the wrong reasons..,
There is a moment in his autobiography where Morrissey complains about the disappointment of his lunches with surviving members of the New York Dolls. They aren't at all interested in him, don't want to talk about the things that fascinate him about the Dolls and are just not the people that existed in his mind; a perfect allegory for this hugely disappointing and woefully undisciplined book that is still as compelling as lunch with David Johansen probably is.
It turns out that Morrissey doesn't want to talk about what interests me. His relationship with his father, the meaning behind his lyrics, how the songs were composed, walking out on the David Bowie tour, playing with three fifths of the ex Smiths at Wolverhampton whilst 2 were suing him, the Jonny Rogan biography, none of that gets a mention. Because Morrissey wants to slag off Geoff Travis and Judge John Weeks for page after page after page. He even repeats the same insults (seriously, get an editor!).
He also wants to slate most of the people he has worked with, obsess over chart positions and generally blame every record company and manager he has worked with for anything that has gone wrong in his adult life. I can't help thinking that the thing all these people have in common is Morrissey. Reading the excellent Mozipedia reveals several other collaborators unnamed in Autobiography who had to take legal action against him after his mother called them to say that they would not be getting paid... I digress.
This book confirms that Morrissey is just not the person he is in my head. I had guessed as much, but the person that emerges from Autobiography is not one that I warmed to at all. He's funny. He loves pop music and films. He truly cares about animals on a global and personal level and talks extensively about the inhumanity of the human race and feminism. This is the Morrissey I hoped for. But the book displays a woeful lack of self awareness. He seems to completely lack in empathy for individuals however noble his more grand universal sentiments about suffering might be. He uses the N word on a very shaking context along with some pretty sexist language (calling the other 3 Smiths "girls" when describing the court case among other things). he also uses some grim metaphors to describe female genitalia and dismisses people based on their appearance on most pages. It's a vulgar picture which says nothing to me about my life (and if you thought that was bad wait until you read some of his own lyrical insertions). But the clincher for me was his moaning about an accountant who wouldn't help him get a managers £250K back from their grieving family after a deal went wrong following the man's sudden death.
I considered myself a big Morrissey fan, I've lost count of how many books I've read about him so I shouldn't have been too surprised. Especially as this book is very constant with his dire blog postings on Truetoyou.net On reflection I believe I've been making excuses for Morrissey for years, at least since You Are the Quarry. I've tried to like the last 3 overwhelming mediocre albums and clung to the rare moments of inspiration. There are rare moments of inspiration in Autobiography too and I found it an addictive read. But Morrissey has warn out my good will this time and I left the book considering myself a former fan. In that regard it was a powerful experience, but not the one I wanted - like a bad lunch date with the late Arthur Kane? Quite possibly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor, Poor Pitiful Morrissey,
Morrissey can certainly write prose, and the details of his early life are well drawn and give a clear picture as to how he became this island known as 'Morrissey'. The problem is that, once he finds fame, he seems to become more, rather than less, embittered and everything is seen through the prism of his persecution complex. I almost threw the book in the bin during his 40-page diatribe against the characters in the court action brought by Mike Joyce, particularly the Judge John Weeks, of whom he wonders: "How can someone who is not creative pass judgement on someone who is?" Well, if Morrissey is so creative, he should have recognised that even though "Joyce Iscariot" (sic) did not technically have a case, then, morally, he certainly did.
Few people really come out of this book well, including some of the 60's icons with whom he became so obsessed (such as Sandie Shaw). He does, however, seem to hit it off with Chrissie Hynde and Kirsty MacColl. Also, some of the major incidents of the Smiths career are not mentioned at all, such as Andy Rourke's supposed Morrissey-led ousting from the band for alleged substance abuse.
A major omission is an index of the main players. So, to go back to what he exactly said about certain people, is difficult. I know that he was very dismissive about Tony Wilson, purely because of the fact that he ate meat, but I cannot find the exact quote!
Despite everything however, it is a largely entertaining, if somewhat infuriating, read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Page after page of sniping rage.,
This review is from: Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
Morrissey certainly has a wonderful turn of phrase but I found the vitriol running through the book to be somewhat unpalatable. The book in parts descends into a rant and is somewhat repetitive. As a lifelong Smiths/Morrissey fan I felt there were many questions that were perhaps glossed over and too much detail regarding certain events such as the court case. I also felt the lack of chapter breaks together with Morrissey jumping from subject to subject and back again was of detriment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars heaven knows,
Bought for my son. He rates a three star read based on its literary merit. Purely subjective but over-coverage of the legal spat with the other 'Smiths' and pet subject repetition detract from the content of the rest of the book.
43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shame,
Oh dear. I managed to read it all but it was a hard slog. By the end of it my view of the man had changed radically. Morrissey has no self awareness, no understanding of human nature, no ability to see himself and others as both good and bad: all the same in being imperfect. His writing is appalling. It's a mixture of the illiterate (he can't bring himself to use the accusative 'me' because he thinks the nominative 'I' sounds more learned) and the boastful - endless figures of gig attendances and chart positions. What he seems to be trying to prove to us is that he is adored. As if it matters. What he shows is that he has no idea that the desire to be adored is the foremost need of the shallow narcissist. He has no idea that he is trying to fill a bottomless pit.
He is also disingenuous. In the stupendously long section on the court case, he fails to emphasise or even allude to the fact that he and Jonny already have almost all the money because they, as the writers, share the publishing rights 50/50. The other two just want some of the recording and performance rights. Almost all the dosh comes from the publishing rights. Funny how he never mentions this.
He is right in one respect though. It does take strength to be gentle and kind. It is easy to laugh and to hate. Here are 450 pages demonstrating those very things.
112 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last to blame, and the first for praise, in a bloody 457 page act of revenge on his own career.,
Prosaically titled, and prosaically economical with the truth, Autobiography is the most elusive, ellipetical work by an icon since Dylan's Chronicles, eagerly awaited, awash with revelation, and - at the same time - frustratingly scant on known facts, the text is utterly 100% Morrisseyesque, 457 pages of self-justifying revenge.
If you think that is a long sentence, wait until you read the rest of the book. It is essential, unputdownable, and treats fact and truth as luxuries, whilst Morrissey settles scores in what can be charitably described as one 400,000 word grudgematch against reality.
Not so much setting the record straight as putting it at the correct speed (78 rpm, of course), Morrissey levels his guns at every target he can for his cruel and outrageous suffering of success, and ensures that no one escapes without scorn except his perfect self. It is compelling reading and, for anyone with a vague interest in him, is worth a read. There's more to his life than this book, of course, so much more. And how utterly lacking in distance. History is written by the victors, and none so victorious as Morrissey. But one who does not recognise when he has won.
And what is telling, is not just what he will say, but what he will not.
What isn't here? Well, of the known facts, according to this book, Andy Rourke was never dismissed for a week, The Smiths never had Guy Pratt as a bass player for a week. The triumphant 1988 Wolverhampton concert is not mentioned at all. "Viva Hate", "Kill Uncle", and "Vauxhall And I" were never recorded with any other musicians. Compilation albums "Suedehead", "The Best Of", "The Very Best Of", "Smiths Best Vol I," "Smiths Best Vol II", and live albums "Beethoven Was Deaf", "Live At The Hollywood Bowl 2007" (as part of a Greatest Hits release), and "Swords / Live In Warsaw" do not exist. Neither do the concert films "Live In Dallas", "Introducing Morrissey", or "Who Put The M In Manchester"? Not only that, but "Bona Drag" and "Live At Earls Court" are referenced only in terms of sleeve art and spelling mistakes. The poor sales of The "World Of Morrissey" compilation rest on a typo in an advert in the UK, and not - contrary to fact - the fact that 60% of the songs had previously been on one of Morrissey's previous six albums. He seems to think that he can put his name on any old record, and the public are sabotaged from owning it by vicious businesses and incompetent lackeys, as opposed to the fact that sometimes, people just don't want to buy Morrissey records.
Equally economical is his slapdash approach : according to this book, Morrissey did not tour between late 1992 and 2004 ; no allusion is made to his touring in 1995, 1997, 1999-2000 or 2002. His controversial support slot with David Bowie - and subsequent disappearance from it halfway through - are breezed through simply by not mentioning it at all. His bass player Jonny Bridgewood is never mentioned, nor drummers Deano Butterworth of Spike Smith. Gary Day - his bass player from 1991 to 2006 - disappears without a mention. Musical players drift in and out of the ether as if they were ghosts : the reason he chose his 1991-1997 band were never mentioned, but their salaries are. His 1991-97 band were not the musicians they ought to be, and he lambasts them by default, for their lack of rehearsal and cheap equipment when he neglects to mention the band was put together quickly with little time for rehearsal, using cheap equipment, and thrown to the wolves of 10,000 capacity US Arenas within ten shows.
At the same time, Morrissey wants to make it perfectly clear to you, dear reader, that he is a saviour of everyone else and singlehandedly lifted all his musicians - including The Smiths - from a life of drudgery and council employment by merely meeting them, as if they were saved by the touch of his hand of his genius. The failures of his career are all the fault and hand of incompetent others for whom the phrase "plankton" would insult sea-life : the album "Southpaw Grammar" murdered by a label, and not, of course, by his not playing one headline live show outside of Helsinki or Japan to support it and then disappearing from the stage for two years. "Hold Onto Your Friends" charted at 42 due to EMI sabotage, and not down to the fact that he made no attempt to promote it and the song did not have a video. His commercial decline in the US goes noticed, but the fact that he did not perform live in the US for five years is mysteriously absent. Morrissey is the last to blame, and the first for praise. His lionlike genius, lead astray by the donkeys.
The last thirty or so pages capture Morrissey in oblivious non-reflective state, as he lists with all the passion of a shopping list a list of cities and brief anecdotes. After the previous 400 or so pages of breathless, chapterless prose, it neglects to ponder perhaps the very frank and open, deep conversations of mortality and direction you might expect at the close of an autobiography. Instead we get tales of adoration, and - in anecdotes that follow a confusing lack of linearity (as was often the case), where a leap back in time, or forward, of a decade can occur between full stops, as if mere seconds had passed. Morrissey is a truculent, devious, and unreliable narrator, with a clear memory and a confirmation bias that ensures that he - and only he - is ever, perpetually the voice, where no other worlds exist but The World of Morrissey.
35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh for an editor!,
The high points of Morrissey's autobiography are the wonderful descriptions of his youthful escapades including quite a lot on his family and how closely knit they were and the awful educational experiences he experienced. I shed tears when he spoke so movingly about the death of Kirsty McColl and appreciated his comments on his obvious influences such as the New York Dolls and Lou Reed. Unfortunately there is way too little on The Smiths that is of any interest - lots of whining and whinging about Rough Trade and nothing about what is his most important contribution to popular culture - THE SONGS of The Smiths! There should have been much more on his writing relationship with Johnny. I got incredibly bored with the court case. In fact I just skipped the pages where he dissected the verdict - 60 pages of woe is me myopic nonsense. Would have loved more on his relationship with Nancy Sinatra and on his major influences such as Shelagh Delaney and Elizabeth Smart. Glad he name checked the wonderful Victoria Wood. The book runs out of steam for the last 100 pages very much like his musical career for the past 20 years - you just cannot beat the songs he wrote with Johnny. However I'm so glad that this book has finally come out and it did make me chuckle quite a few times when he slags off Fergie and Burchill and I recommend it if you are a fan of The Smiths.
24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The unbearable heaviness of being Morrissey,
First off I want to say that the autobiography is very well written and makes you want to keep on reading it. It starts off very well but to me it loses itself from the creation of The Smiths onwards.
I really wanted to like this book, and there is nothing wrong with whats in it, but what is not in it is even more important and casts a cold shadow on what could have been.
Examples (spoiler alerts below):
1. Morrissey barely takes a paragraph to describe the day Marr called to his house, AND YET he spends at least 50 pages minutely detailing and repeating himself ad nauseum on the Joyce court case.
2. Morrissey mentions Jake's arrival in his life but nothing about his departure, or really what it meant to him and his music. I couldn't even follow if his arrival impacted the 'Vauxhall' album or came afterwards.
3. Morrisey mentions Gelato's appearance but nothing about his departure.
4. The sentence where Moz mentions comtemplating having a baby with a woman is just that: a sentence. I couldn't decide if he was joking or not. She doesn't get a mention again until the acknowledgements on final page.
5. There is an overall negative and self-pitying tone throughout the book. It was funny at the start but annoying after 400 pages. I know I'll be atatcked for mentioning this, and I own and regularly listen to all of the Moz/Smiths albums and cds, but really it gets tiresome when a multimillionaore keeps carping about how tough their life is. I'm sorry but there it is.
6. Too much name checking of famous people. Also it shows a flip flop attitude from Moz where he now seems to think Elton John is ok when previously calling for his head on a plate.
7. Very negative towards Alain Whyte, while being gushingly positive about Jesse and other band members. I guess the quality of the musical output of the collaboration doesn't count for much.
8. The Smiths era was glossed over with tales about some US concerts. Nothing new was written about the songwriting process, how they put the albums together, what a day in the studio was like, what they liked to do together outside the studio (nothing?).
9. I didn't see a mention of what his favourite songs are, or his most disliked songs.
10. Far too much time talking about other songs and artists he likes. That's all very nice but tell us more about The Smiths, the split, and his subsequent stellar career as a solo artist. Most of his albums are glossed over like a montage in a cheap film.
11. The first part of the book was interesting and featured good never before seen photos (at least not seen by me),but then degenerates into self pitying rambling storytelling without plot or substance, bolstered by crappy photos of album covers that we already own.
12. No mention of the absolute crap 'true to you' website or the excellent Morrissey-solo site. The MozSolo site was a lifeline to people especially during the wilderness years, and I check it at least once per day since it sprang to life in the 90's. It's creator has received a lifetime concert ban from Moz, but of course none of this is mentioned in the book.
13. 55 pages about Judge John Weeks made me feel sick, and served only to make him even more well known. Weeks probably loves this book.
14. My wife advised me to throw the book into the fire after the first 150 pages but I stuck through to the end, but there was only so many melodramatic pages about US concerts that I could take. 'To be finished would be a relief'.
I could go on. I enjoyed the book (especially the first 100 pages or so) but feel The Smiths barely got a mention, and the solo years became a blur punctuated by accounts of US concerts and audience fanaticism. I really think this was a missed opportunity, unbalanced, and ultimately uninforming. If you really want to know more about Morrissey stick to his music. Morrissey writes very well on his autobiography, but I believe he has taken a self-indulgent attitude and beautifully describes events and milestones that are at best a sub-plot to the main story, which to me remains untold. I did like the way he explained his tendency towards depression and how it has defined his life in many ways, but more information onall of his amazing experiences from The Smiths to Refusal would have been welcome.
A reviewer mentioned that the book reads like a poem. If so then it is 'Paradise Lost', or more aptly 'Paradise Never Gained'.
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Autobiography by Morrissey