238 of 264 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 21 months ago by Rough Diamond
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I saw a BBC4 documentary on Rough Trade and Travis appeared with a satisfied look on his face and said that although The ...
A generally entertaining book. However, he doesn't appear to have considered that Geoff Travis could have been responsible for breaking up The Smiths. I saw a BBC4 documentary on Rough Trade and Travis appeared with a satisfied look on his face and said that although The Smiths signed to EMI they didn't release anything for them. The implication seemed to be that only...
Published 4 months ago by Johns
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238 of 264 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I saw a BBC4 documentary on Rough Trade and Travis appeared with a satisfied look on his face and said that although The ...,
A generally entertaining book. However, he doesn't appear to have considered that Geoff Travis could have been responsible for breaking up The Smiths. I saw a BBC4 documentary on Rough Trade and Travis appeared with a satisfied look on his face and said that although The Smiths signed to EMI they didn't release anything for them. The implication seemed to be that only Travis and Rough Trade could successfully handle them.
He unfortunately comes across as a glass half-empty type of person. OK, Mike Joyce got millions off him. However, Morrissey could make that back by reforming The Smiths. People would flock to the concerts and he would make back more than what he lost. The friction in the band contributed to some of their finer moments, such as How Soon Is Now?
As for lack of airplay, what does he expect? At least The Smiths got more Top of the Pops appearances than other indie bands. The Jesus and Mary Chain were on only once.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the B******S here's Morrissey !,
A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. Morrissey has his own style of writing, and as with his speaking he gets straight to the point and says it as it is - no going around the houses or beating about the bush here. Combine this style of writing with interesting topics and a genuine author and you have a book that is absorbing and hard to put down.
The autobiography (naturally) starts with his childhood. His schooldays with it's sadistic and twisted teachers, and the dark austere times of growing up in 60's/70's Manchester. The teenage years reveal Morrissey's love of music, which clearly served as an escape from the pain-ridden surrounds that he found himself in. Being of a similar age as Morrissey I particularly found interest in the music of the time that he was picking up on, and the bands that took his interest (and possibly providing influence for later years); he was a big New York Dolls fan. This section of the book is full of interest, as well as great little anecdotes - like obtaining autographs of famous people, and his experience on the set of Coronation Street.
Next up are The Smiths days. The beginnings of the Morrissey/Marr partnership. How it all got started with Rough Trade. The recordings, the touring, the press, the record companies, and much information about what really went on behind the scenes - and the truth can only be known from the 'horse's mouth.' I for one was unaware of the extent that Morrissey had to endure regarding the legalities of The Smiths, and how he and Marr were 'stitched up' by the music-biz. And worse was later to come, with the shameless money-grabbing of ex Smiths members. How a person is prepared to lose all their self-respect and dignity for the sake of money. Pitiful, talentless individuals, leeching off the talent of another. The details of what happened in Court and the behaviour of the Solicitors and Judges was no surprise to me. They are the despicable face of modern (and old) England, and Morrissey is someone in the public eye rare enough to see through it and brave enough to speak up about it. Naturally, this corrupt and unjust 'System' was always going to lay into him and hang him out to dry - and it surely did. The gutter press is also touched upon here. Whatever has happened in the past Morrissey comes out the winner in my eyes. He has his dignity and self-respect as a human being, and his talent will always be there. A successful solo career and a top selling book proves this - Morrissey prevails in the end.
To summarise, I loved Morrissey's book from start to finish. I found it absorbing and well written. Full of great factual content and peppered with interesting little anecdotes concerning the famous - i.e.: Bowie, Siouxsie, Hawtrey, Bennett, Ronson, (the family of) James Dean, etc. The tale of the event on the Moors on a dark and misty night is a delightful addition. I admire Morrissey, both as an artist and as a person. This may be due to the fact that I agree with absolutely everything that he says. It's so refreshing to hear someone famous use their voice to say something meaningful, worthwhile, and truthful - to see it as it is and to say it as it is. Whether it be about corrupt politicians, the repulsive and obnoxiousness of Royalty, or the despicable treatment of animals and the hypocrites who say they 'love animals' yet are happy to cause their suffering, torture, and death by living off their corpses. Morrissey will always have the establishment against him because he reveals the truth, and for most the truth is better kept hidden or ignored. But thankfully more and more people are seeing through the 'garbage' that is inherent in our Society and the World in general. And our Society and the World desperately needs people like Morrissey now.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't help quoting you. Everything that you said rings true.,
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A friend asked me recently if I had the Morrissey book, more or less a rhetorical question as I'm the sort of colossal fan whose continuous adoration has provoked only the scorn of others and of course I'd had it on pre-order. I was then asked whether I'd read it. I have not, I replied with gusto. Someday I might. The reviews suggest some readers - as opposed to mere possessors - of Autobiography had hoped to receive enlightenment about the music business or what it's like to be an icon or just how the enigma ticks. I know if ever I read the book, I will love it - even if it's not Great; blind faith is as much the province of the music fanatic as the religious fanatic. I also know it's unlikely to enhance by one iota my understanding of the man. More than most popular recording artistes of the late twentieth century, Morrissey has lain himself bare over and over again. It's all there in the songs. SPM is a lot of things I like a lot in those songs - acerbic, funny, sensitive, self aware, self conscious, almost never miserable - the list is not exhaustive. Above all, he is honest. One of the greatest creative expressions to come out of the last half of last century is the three minute pop song. Morrissey is a fine exponent. I find myself quoting his words more often than those of dead writers as they ring so true so often for me, his exact contemporary, a Northern woman. I have read quite a number of reviews of Autobiography on Amazon. The fan in me is glad it's created such a stir. As to whether it's any good, I'm not sure I care. The deft exponent of the three minute thing of wonder may not necessarily translate as genius across a few hundred pages and for real fans, he does not have to. Some have written here that Morrissey comes out of the book a misogynist. To my eternal chagrin, I've too often been in the trying position of having to bandy words with real, serious misogynists who can hinder and hurt and I have to say on strength of his lyrics I know who I'd rather be stuck in a lift with. I am not sure people widely get the point about Morrissey: gender really is on one level incidental. This is something amazing in a world where all that irony around gender roles is starting to look like a joke that's not funny anymore. It is maybe an idea that is, shockingly, beginning to lose currency. How is it that as society starts breaking down, one raft that too many cling to is the straitjacket of gender that over time has caused so much misery for so many? How is it that a book I've not even read - yet - could have made me think so much? I love the fact that Morrissey is in the world. And I love the fact he still inspires such love and hate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book definitely worth reading, regardless of the few shortcomings,
This review is from: Autobiography (Special edition) (Hardcover)
"Autobiography" by Steven Patrick Morrissey is book that many fans of this musician hardly waited, a book that doesn't disappoint, though some periods of his life weren't given quite as much attention as the reader might expect.
As probably is the case with most readers, I was attracted to this book due to the fact that I'm longtime fan of his music, especially from "The Smiths" part of his career.
Morrissey began his book with description of his childhood and youth, describing his home city Manchester and family in which he was raised, writing in a beautiful and almost lyrical way like you're reading a novel, not a true story of a man about his adolescence and growing up.
He writes in long sentences, but his thoughts are easy to understand, creating images that allow the reader to be fully immersed in action as if yourself you share a youthful days with author.
This part of book manages to explain why Morrissey became such person, giving a great insight about the pain he endured, about his obsessions and fascinations that makes his story sound completely authentic and without embellishment.
In many occasions Morrissey manages to put smile on reader's lips; even in some situations that are serious or sad he succeeds to show the funny side in his poetic writing style. Also it's interesting to see how loyal he was to his beloved and kind to people which he considered friends therefore it's not surprising how he felt stricken by their betrayal (at least in his opinion).
Though, this part of the book in which he strikes back on the people who have hurt him is not so good, even seems a bit unnecessary and if he left it out that wouldn't be reflected on the overall quality of the book.
What can be considered as a flaw is lack of space which he devoted to important part of his career when he was The Smiths front man, due to these days he gained so wide circle of fans all around the world.
Also, it would be interesting to read more about his songs, about the events and experiences that inspired him to write his popular songs together with Johnny Marr.
However, if you want to give a general evaluation of the book it's definitely worth reading, regardless of the shortcomings which if corrected would position his book in the list of the best rock autobiography ever written.
115 of 133 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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not forgiving, not forgetting,
The tremulously awaited Morrissey autobiography is now with us and it’s everything you wished for and everything you feared. This is a door-stop sized dollop of full-on Moz, not ghost-written and I’d be willing to bet not even edited, a vast slab of melodramatic and self-pitying soul baring that would be almost completely preposterous and laughably self-serving if it wasn’t so saturated with wit and passion and sheer outrageous conviction. It’s pretty damn well-written too, even if the author has a somewhat cavalier approach to strict chronology (and even what tense he’s writing in) and clearly finds the notion of dividing one’s magnum opus into easily digestible chapters hopelessly pedestrian. While you sometimes find yourself craving a bit more detail on the nuts and bolts of making those extraordinary records it can’t be denied that Autobiography is several cuts above your average plodding rockstar career summary.
Or at least it is for the first half of the book. In these first 225 pages Morrissey achieves the tricky feat of tempering his relentless denouncements of the various establishment forces that he transparently feels are working round the clock to deny him fulfilment (you know, schoolteachers, record label bosses, meat eaters, people like that) with frequent flashes of self-deprecatory humour and turns of phrases that bolster his reputation as one of the greatest of lyricists. One of his teachers will “die smelling of attics”. Another is “a sexual hoax”. The release of the first Smiths single Hand In Glove shattered their staunchly alternative label Rough Trade’s afternoons of “wok rotas, poetry workshops and Women’s Hour”. David Bowie “feeds on the blood of mammals”. It’s bracing, hilarious, fiercely non-ingratiating stuff that cedes not an inch to the many commentators who dismiss him as a one-note miserabilist and the style couldn’t be mistaken for that of another human being on the planet.
And once you’ve acclimatised yourself to the style you get quite a bit of insight into the formative years of a sensitive Mancunian lad raised in the 1960s within an extended Irish family dominated by doughty women. If the young Mozzer’s chief sources of misery were school and the brutal attitudes of teachers and would-be teenage gang leaders alike his salvations were television, books and particularly 45 rpm records, which he collected and studied obsessively. Later he would fall under the spell of The New York Dolls, Jobriath and other strange, sexually ambiguous acts on the margins of rock music, but his tentative attempts to establish himself as either writer or singer didn’t come to much until Johnny Marr came knocking on his door in the early 80s. Morrissey conjures the whirl and creative flood of the early days of the group he’ll always be best remembered for with rare economy and flair: “The Smiths’ sound rockets with meteoric progression; bomb-burst drumming, explosive chords, combative bass-lines, and over it all I am as free as a hawk to paint the canvas as I wish.” Autobiography captures the emotional highs and lows of the band’s stormy five-year lifespan brilliantly even if it leaves it up to the reader to remember or research some of the prosaic discographic facts (anyone wanting a more objective summary of these years is hereby directed to Tony Fletcher’s excellent A Light That Never Goes Out).
After the group breaks up however the book becomes considerably less essential as Morrissey’s sense of being wronged by the world in general and by a long list of former collaborators, judges and media figures in particular starts to colour everything. It’s still a more or less entertaining read but the dramatic tension is gone with the narrative flitting around between perceived slights that people have made against Moz’s character and, fatally, a fifty page account of the court action initiated by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce in pursuit of what he claimed was his fair share of The Smiths’ earnings that ends with judge John Weeks finding against the singer and branding him “devious, truculent and unreliable.” Morrissey does not like this one little bit and goes into obsessive, nit-picking detail about the spuriousness of Joyce’s case, repeating himself and restating his unimpeachable arguments over and over and over again. Sometimes, the reader is forced to conclude, it’s better to just let something go.
To be fair though, the book is not all Morrissey railing at the world. There are some unexpectedly tender passages scattered here and there amongst all the disappointment and bile. The singer pays moving tribute to the much missed Kirsty MacColl and several other prematurely deceased friends such as producer Mick Ronson, manager Nigel Thomas and video director Tim Broad, and is constant in his devotion to members of his family. There are also one or two accounts of Moz helping injured and distressed birds and animals, another constituency that he’s always been a fearless defender of.
But in the end you can’t help feeling that the book, despite delivering a surface punch as powerful and witty as anyone could have hoped for, has missed its mark ever so slightly. It’s a shame, because without the court case section and with some judicious trimming and collation of the isolated, loosely strung-together events and impressions that make up the back end of the book Autobiography would have been a genuine instant Penguin Classic, worthy of the imprint that Moz insisted on as part of the publishing deal. As it is, it’s closer to something like The Kenneth Williams Diaries – an insight into a unique and unmistakable British recording artist who’s as incapable of mellowing with age as a neglected stub of camembert at the back of the fridge.
4.0 out of 5 stars Words which should only be your own ...,
To come clean at the start I think Morrissey has written some wonderful songs and to follow conventional fan wisdom I think he's a wonderful person - right? No wrong. I see him as a pretty normal bloke at heart and flawed like the rest of us.
Part of the reason for the public and the media love/hate relationship with Morrissey is that he is opinionated, says what he thinks(and very elequently)and has refused to follow the usual habits of pop stardom. This to me is refreshing but for many, lead singers should follow the sex/drugs/hotel trashing norm. With Morrissey you get the feeling that he'd be happy chilling with a Victoria Wood DVD, a nice cup of tea and a packet of Hobnobs (if Hobnobs are veggie), (other oat-based biscuits are available ...).
But let's not fall in the trap of reviewing Morrissey and discuss the book. For me the strongest section is his recollection of growing up in tough circumstances in 1960's Manchester. Yes young people that's how it really was. His love for his family shines throughout these pages. The account of the rise of his first group is remarkable chiefly for showing the naivety of the band members and the way they were subsequently ripped off. At this point starts the long toll of Moz casulaties - close friends who died before their time. "Ooh I wonder if that's why he's so glum". Despite what has been written elsewhere he is quite affectionate about his days with old band members, complimentary about their musicianship and doesn't let subsequent dischord taint his recollections.
A big chunk (perhaps too much?) of the book is allocated to the Khafka-esque legal case, which saw a previous band member successfully sue him for a large sum of money - quite unjustly I feel if this account is to be believed. I got the impression that it was a feeling of betrayal and the injustice of the legal system which hurt him more than loosing the money.
The book them moves on to his success with his own band - which is perhaps the best two fingers to the court case. Unfortunately for Moz much of his success is in culturally 'irrelevant' countries such as Mexico and Scandanvia.
A modern classic? Not sure about that but the best music autobiography I have read in a long while. And written with a genuine talent.
PS Morrissey if you are reading this see how I didn't mention The *****s.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in places, not great overall,
I don’t read books all that often because I’m usually too busy, but I was genuinely interested in reading this so I asked the other half to get it for me for Christmas.
It’s taken me three months to read, mainly because I’ve read it exclusively on the bog and there’s only so much time I can spend on there before she sends out a search party for me.
Now I must confess to being a massive fan of The Smiths - I don’t listen to them all that often but I do keep going back every now and again. Therefore, it was something of a disappointment that there wasn’t really much in here about their explosion onto the British music scene in the 1980s.
Instead, what you get is Morrissey carping on about being hard done to, how he wished they had been more mainstream etc.
This is pretty much the theme of the book - he moans about people close to him dying, he moans about Mike Joyce’s lawsuit against him (a lot), he moans about Judge John Weeks, who presided over the matter in court.
He moans about him being misrepresented in the national and music press (with some justification, it has to be said), he moans about people who eat meat.
Amongst all of this moaning there exists a man who essentially finds the world and the majority of those within it tiresome, unless they are hero-worshipping him.
Being a Film and Media Studies graduate I find his musings on popular culture quite interesting, and very accurate.
Maybe he would have been better writing a precis of his thoughts on popular culture, because as it is this book is a pretty arduous read, particularly when he keeps returning to the Joyce/Weeks/Marr axis when you think (hope) that he’s done with it.
He doesn’t really talk about his sexuality, which I suspect is what a lot of readers of his book would be quite intrigued at. Instead, he teases and hints at relationships with both men and women, but I rather suspect that he is essentially asexual and rather more interested in finding a companionship which he doesn’t find tiresome and irritating.
I’m glad I read it, because there is some interesting quotes and one or two remotely amusing anecdotes, but if you expect to get an insight into the true character of Morrissey, you’ll probably be disappointed as Autobiography is actually rather predictable and therefore a bit dull.
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it. Initially I had chosen not to read ...,
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I enjoyed it. Initially I had chosen not to read this book because I am a huge fan of the Smiths and Morrissey and sensed my opinion of him would lessen on reading it since he is prone to bragging and making pretentious remarks. I did however enjoy it. It is witty for the most part and the writing is good enough, i felt, to keep you reading even though it does ramble, as i recall, from the account of the acrimonious court case to the end (of the book).
Coverage of the court case in the book by Moz is just ridiculous. We all know he felt hard done by but there is no need to go on about it. To be honest it's probably the best example in the book of Moz's self-indulgent, self-pitiful mentality but, hey, there would be no Smiths without it! It's just strange i find that, all these years later, after so much success and vindication of his talents which kept him aloof in his youth, he still feels the need to go on about how special he is. Yes Moz you are special and brilliant but keep it to yourself treasure..... on reflection i am reminded of a lyric of his:
"such things i do, to make myself attractive to you, have i failed?"
and the answer to that, after reading the autobiography, would have to be....er, kind of yes and no (as always)
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Autobiography by Morrissey