At Last I Am Born - an appreciation

GlasgowChivas

Doing the Terrace Stomp
Morning all.

I recently posted my thoughts on 'I Will See You In Far Off Places' - you can find them here - and in doing so I mentioned that 'At Last I Am Born' was another Ringleader track that had recently surfaced in my mind and refused to go away.

So if you have the time and you don't mind, then allow me to indulge myself.

I didn't like this track when I first played Ringleader. It sounded pompous and arrogant and priggish. I found the combination of the flamenco-esque guitars, italian street samples and the children's choir too much. And I though Morrissey's lyrics (especially the blah-blah-blah) were trite and on the nose.

I was a f***ing idiot.

All of those things are now why I love the song. It's right that this song should be pompous and grandoise - I mean, for a message as important as this, one that is confessional and declaratory and which inverts the classic "Morrissey" view that most people hold (that he was celibate or closeted) this is just perfect.

There's always the arguement that the "I" in the song isn't of course Morrissey. He has written loads of songs, so many songs, more songs than we can stand where he sings in character as someone else but I don't believe that this is the case here. Juxtaposed against the album and the interviews he was giving at the time it's clear (to me at least, remember this is just one man's opinion) that this song was a victorious, two-fingered salute to life, to his critics and to himself. He simulatenousely manages to affirm and parody himself in this song and the more I think about it the more I think it may be the best song on the album.*

Listen how the song begins with crash of violins and imposing drum rolls. Listen how he delivers the first declaration. He could be giving a speech before Parliament. He then skewers his own importance with the "Historians note" couplet. He is both laughing at the idea that his declaration would be worth noting and making it plain that he believes it is. This contextuality takes on another meta-layer (Meta! Check me!) when you realise that most critics did sit up and take note of what this song was/is/might have been revealing. Oh Morrissey. Making the critics dance to your tune. Thus ever was.

As the song continues we gets verses that mention how he 'used to chase affection withdrawn' and how he believed 'time accentuates despair'. Both very classic "Morrissey-isms" but the real delight is in how he immediately and casually dismisses them by sitting back and yawning and not actually caring respectively. This wit is what too many people miss out on when listening to Morrissey. He's funny! Listen properly you idiots!

Now, I'll confess: the spectral hand, Claude Brasseur, Blah Blah lines mean nothing to me. I don't understand them at all. If I was to guess I would say they were supposed to be showing how he has grown over the years from one to the next before recognising that it's not important and trailing off. But I'm not sure. Even googling Spectral Hand brings me no closer to what he means and what a French actor has to do with it is anyones guess. If anyone can explain these lines please enlighten me.

The music throughout is brilliant and vibrant and unexpected. Morriconne-esque guitars and baselines dip and dive through the street samples and the piano tinkles away in perfect harmony. There's a real sense of fun, a sense of joy to the music despite the grand nature of it and it's the ideal combination to the lyrics. By the time the children's choir enters the picture you should be giddy and grinning from ear to ear, especially as he's just delivered my favourite line of the whole song " I once thought I had numerous reasons to cry / And I did, but I don’t anymore because I am born, born, born". I think the reason why people were dissapointed in 'Years Of Refusal' was because it seemed to be a backwards step lyrically after this type of thing. He was changed, moving on. He was still the same (underneath) but his future, for once, looked bright and promised...something. 'Refusal' however (and I like the album, don't say I don't!) gave us songs that conformed very much to the "Morrissey stereotype". But that's a conversation for another day.

Anyways, the last born trails off into the ether like Morrissey has been dragged away, not down into the past but instead down into the future. It's the perfect way to end that album and I hope I get to see him do it live once again.

*That was of course nonsense, the best song on the album is cleary 'Life Is A Pigsty', followed by 'Dear God, Please Help Me' but I would argue intensely that 'At Last I Am Born' is the most important of the three when using his work to gain insight into the man.

At last I am born
Historians note
I am finally born
I once used to chase affection withdrawn
But now I just sit back and yawn
Because I am born, born, born
Look at me now
From difficult child to spectral hand to Claude Brasseur-oh-blah blah blah
At last I am born
Vulgarians know
I am finally born
I once thought that time accentuates despair
But now I don’t actually care
Because I am born, born, born
Look at me now
From difficult child to spectral hand to Claude Brasseur-oh-blah blah blah
At last I am born
At last I am born
Leaving the one true free life born
I once thought I had numerous reasons to cry
And I did, but I don’t anymore
Because I am born, born, born
At last I am born
At last I am born
It took me a long, long time
But now I am born
I once was a mess of guilt because of the flesh
It’s remarkable what you can learn
Once you are born, born, born
Born, born, born
Born, born, born
 

M-in-Oz

Active Member
Thank you for your review, I really enjoyed reading it. I loved 'At Last I Am Born' since the first listen. Morrissey sounds so strident vocally & sure of himself. I also liked the self-referencing lyrics and the 'Western/cowboy' sounding music, like Morrissey is surveying the open landscape.
I wish I could write more, but typing on a phone!
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
Morning all.

I recently posted my thoughts on 'I Will See You In Far Off Places' - you can find them here - and in doing so I mentioned that 'At Last I Am Born' was another Ringleader track that had recently surfaced in my mind and refused to go away.

So if you have the time and you don't mind, then allow me to indulge myself.

I didn't like this track when I first played Ringleader. It sounded pompous and arrogant and priggish. I found the combination of the flamenco-esque guitars, italian street samples and the children's choir too much. And I though Morrissey's lyrics (especially the blah-blah-blah) were trite and on the nose.

I was a f***ing idiot.

All of those things are now why I love the song. It's right that this song should be pompous and grandoise - I mean, for a message as important as this, one that is confessional and declaratory and which inverts the classic "Morrissey" view that most people hold (that he was celibate or closeted) this is just perfect.

There's always the arguement that the "I" in the song isn't of course Morrissey. He has written loads of songs, so many songs, more songs than we can stand where he sings in character as someone else but I don't believe that this is the case here. Juxtaposed against the album and the interviews he was giving at the time it's clear (to me at least, remember this is just one man's opinion) that this song was a victorious, two-fingered salute to life, to his critics and to himself. He simulatenousely manages to affirm and parody himself in this song and the more I think about it the more I think it may be the best song on the album.*

Listen how the song begins with crash of violins and imposing drum rolls. Listen how he delivers the first declaration. He could be giving a speech before Parliament. He then skewers his own importance with the "Historians note" couplet. He is both laughing at the idea that his declaration would be worth noting and making it plain that he believes it is. This contextuality takes on another meta-layer (Meta! Check me!) when you realise that most critics did sit up and take note of what this song was/is/might have been revealing. Oh Morrissey. Making the critics dance to your tune. Thus ever was.

As the song continues we gets verses that mention how he 'used to chase affection withdrawn' and how he believed 'time accentuates despair'. Both very classic "Morrissey-isms" but the real delight is in how he immediately and casually dismisses them by sitting back and yawning and not actually caring respectively. This wit is what too many people miss out on when listening to Morrissey. He's funny! Listen properly you idiots!

Now, I'll confess: the spectral hand, Claude Brasseur, Blah Blah lines mean nothing to me. I don't understand them at all. If I was to guess I would say they were supposed to be showing how he has grown over the years from one to the next before recognising that it's not important and trailing off. But I'm not sure. Even googling Spectral Hand brings me no closer to what he means and what a French actor has to do with it is anyones guess. If anyone can explain these lines please enlighten me.

The music throughout is brilliant and vibrant and unexpected. Morriconne-esque guitars and baselines dip and dive through the street samples and the piano tinkles away in perfect harmony. There's a real sense of fun, a sense of joy to the music despite the grand nature of it and it's the ideal combination to the lyrics. By the time the children's choir enters the picture you should be giddy and grinning from ear to ear, especially as he's just delivered my favourite line of the whole song " I once thought I had numerous reasons to cry / And I did, but I don’t anymore because I am born, born, born". I think the reason why people were dissapointed in 'Years Of Refusal' was because it seemed to be a backwards step lyrically after this type of thing. He was changed, moving on. He was still the same (underneath) but his future, for once, looked bright and promised...something. 'Refusal' however (and I like the album, don't say I don't!) gave us songs that conformed very much to the "Morrissey stereotype". But that's a conversation for another day.

Anyways, the last born trails off into the ether like Morrissey has been dragged away, not down into the past but instead down into the future. It's the perfect way to end that album and I hope I get to see him do it live once again.

*That was of course nonsense, the best song on the album is cleary 'Life Is A Pigsty', followed by 'Dear God, Please Help Me' but I would argue intensely that 'At Last I Am Born' is the most important of the three when using his work to gain insight into the man.

At last I am born
Historians note
I am finally born
I once used to chase affection withdrawn
But now I just sit back and yawn
Because I am born, born, born
Look at me now
From difficult child to spectral hand to Claude Brasseur-oh-blah blah blah
At last I am born
Vulgarians know
I am finally born
I once thought that time accentuates despair
But now I don’t actually care
Because I am born, born, born
Look at me now
From difficult child to spectral hand to Claude Brasseur-oh-blah blah blah
At last I am born
At last I am born
Leaving the one true free life born
I once thought I had numerous reasons to cry
And I did, but I don’t anymore
Because I am born, born, born
At last I am born
At last I am born
It took me a long, long time
But now I am born
I once was a mess of guilt because of the flesh
It’s remarkable what you can learn
Once you are born, born, born
Born, born, born
Born, born, born
I like it too.

Mind you, I always did. But I'm glad you've finally come to your senses! :)
 

sad veiled bride

can you please stop time?
I like to read you, GlasgowChivas. Eccellente! :thumb:
And yes, I like the song too. When he says "I once was a mess of guilt because of the flesh, it's remarkable what you can learn, once you are born, born, born", I always think to myself "if we only could know what really happened...".
 

GlasgowChivas

Doing the Terrace Stomp
I like to read you, GlasgowChivas. Eccellente! :thumb:
And yes, I like the song too. When he says "I once was a mess of guilt because of the flesh, it's remarkable what you can learn, once you are born, born, born", I always think to myself "if we only could know what really happened...".
Thanks! Always nice to be appreciated.

I don't think we'll ever know what caused him to renounce the guilt of the flesh unless the rumoured autobiography is more revealing than we can expect. He constantly claimed it was love for the city of Rome but I don't believe him.
 

Raphael Lambach

Well-Known Member
I remember when Ringleader of the tormentors was released I read so many bad words against it. I don't know exactly where but I remember that a journalist who criticized Morrissey for using choldren chorous on "At last I am born" and "The youngest was the most loved". Of course it is not an easy album as Your are the quarry. But RoTT is a good album - much better than Kill Uncle,

For me, at the first listening, "At last I am born" was one the strangest Morrissey's track, but out of blue it became special and powerful in meanings and force - as well as the whole album did.
 

not_me_not_I

New Member
It's been my favourite track off the album for a long time (although Dear God gets more listens for much baser reasons) for a lot of the reasons you stated; more for the lyrical content than for the music. Makes me want to ask him "What happened in Rome????" I'm glad to have someone else agree with me that it's a good track.
 
The album is good, but this song is awful. It holds the record for being the one Morrissey song in my entire iTunes I have never managed to listen to until the end. I think I listened to it on CD when it came out about 2 or 3 times, but just can't stand it now.
 
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