Morrissey A-Z: (The) National Front Disco

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Alain provides some info from a Steve Jones interview (Jonesy's Jukebox, May 30th, 2006):

Steve: Oh, yeah. I bought that one. I like “National Front Disco”, that’s my favorite song.

Alain: Oh yeah? Well it’s apt title got us in a lot of trouble.

Steve: Yeah, what was that all about? It was when you played a gig in England, right? What was it that got you in trouble?

Alain: To be honest, it was (for) the right reasons that we got in trouble because all the National Front lot had turned up to the Madness gig and they were the ones pelting us. You know? So I was pleased about that, in a way because you know, it’s an anti-racist song. It’s about a kid who…the song I think, is about a kid who winds up hanging out with the wrong people and gets involved with a right-wing element.

Steve: People don’t listen to the lyrics, though. They just hear a word and they’re like “Oh!”

Alain: Things got out of hand. I was up on stage and all of a sudden, I saw this silver thing flying and I just when, you know, moved my head to the side and this fifty pence coin missed me by you know, inches. It would have took me right out.

Steve: Really.

Alain: Yeah, it was crazy. They did not like us. It was not good.

Steve: But that was only a one-time thing?

Alain: Yeah, I mean, we’d done about eight songs and you know, bottles of orange juice and all kinds of stuff and coins were getting lobbed on stage. I heard about sixteen pounds landed on stage, in coins. Great, eh?

Steve: Payola.

Alain: Yeah.

Steve: Pay to play.

Alain: Yeah.

Steve: But, why did it get such a…it seemed like, in the media, even they got it wrong. The press got it wrong that, it kind of made it like he was pro-National Front, or whatever.

Alain: Well, the Media basically set him up. The Media made up a load of lies. The decided that you know, they’d had enough of Morrissey and they basically have recently admitted that they were in the wrong and that they were deliberately targeting him. So, you know, they were just out to get him, basically. Made up a load of lies.


And his Twitter listening party:

20200426_202638.jpg


Loved the 'chaos' live.
Regards,
FWD.
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
A breathtaking song, with heartfelt lyrics not betrayed by the title. Some (then and now) jumped to conclusions about the song’s intentions (as someone decided not to put a lyric booklet into the album) but one listen immediately shows the pain and sorrow in Moz’s delivery as well as the band’s playing. It helps that this is one of his best instrumentals, too, with a beautiful chiming riff and a powerful transition between fierce choruses and muted verses. Of course, in concert, it would become his noisiest track, ending in a feedback melee that is always thrilling- and sometimes a little tiresome - to listen to. All around, though, an incredibly hard-hitting and “real” song, exposing - like “We’ll Let You Know” before it - real life tactics used to lure innocent young people to the extremist right. Outstanding.
10/10
 

MrShoes

"Ooo, there's goobers on his bod." - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
One of the best songs from a golden age....

And sixteen pounds for an hour of busking - not bad.
 

gordyboy9

its not me its you.
great song,classic M.people jumping to conclusions where M is the subject,who would have thought it.
sixteen quid would have got a round in for the band after the show.if somebody throws money at you pick it up and put it in your pocket.
9 national/10 discos.
 

Mozmar

Well-Known Member
A truly magnificent, stomping, track with Cobrin in the engine room driving the whole thing. Guitar work from Whyte is wonderful on this one with beautiful inflections in certain places. Day's bass play is fantastic providing a pulse throughout. Love the way it powers up and down, then back up again to multiple crescendos. Fantastic singalongability. Moz's vocals outstanding. Love the bass & shimmering electric guitar outro. The whole thing is a flawless masterpiece. I'm 'superlatively' exhausted.
Just in case there's any doubt: I absolutely love it!
 

MrShoes

"Ooo, there's goobers on his bod." - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
A truly magnificent, stomping, track with Cobrin in the engine room driving the whole thing. Guitar work from Whyte is wonderful on this one with beautiful inflections in certain places. Day's bass play is fantastic providing a pulse throughout. Love the way it powers up and down, then back up again to multiple crescendos. Fantastic singalongability. Moz's vocals outstanding. Love the bass & shimmering electric guitar outro. The whole thing is a flawless masterpiece. I'm 'superlatively' exhausted.
Just in case there's any doubt: I absolutely love it!

Tell us how you really feel... :)
 

Phranc & Open

Well-Known Member
A song like TNFD made me an enthusiast. The hook is irresistible and the way Morrissey sings this kitchen sink drama is just one heartfelt sing-a-long for the die-hards. The lyrics are on the razors edge but Morrissey knew exactly war he did in 1992 and he knew, that some would misunderstand it. Forever love!
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
f***ing masterpiece. Jubilant and sad, vicious and empathetic, thrashy and poppy. How it could be construed as pro-NF, I'll never know.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Yeah, Alain said that Morrissey introduced the song to him by saying, "You won't like the title", so he knew that he was sticking his fork in the toaster.

A fine tune and an excellent production from Ronson.

In the poll on the Hoffman board it ranked 20th from 264 solo songs.
 

The.Truth.

about Ruth
I love the song and love hearing the live versions, but I'm going to be contrarian and ask if the media really set Morrissey up. I think he certainly gave them everything they needed to do so and I feel that he enjoys doing this and that time has proven this to be so.
As far as the song itself, I mostly agree with Alain's interpretation/explanation. I don't see anything wrong with making David a somewhat sympathetic character, either. Young, misguided and "got in with the wrong crowd."
Still, I think it's possible to hear the song different ways. For example, one line which goes, "we wonder if the thunder is ever really gonna begin" which sounds like it could describe this group that David has joined waiting around for this event they've all been told will happen soon, much like the die hard QAnon people now. But after he says this, he repeats "begin, oh begin," and it's not hard to imagine that he sounds like he's really urging on this event.
Another part
"There's a country,
You don't live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you're made of,
Ah, then you might do."
This is talking about a mythical country, "you don't live there," but it's a dream that could come true. And when you combine this idea with the references to the wind blowing your life and your dreams away, and the things Morrissey has repeatedly said over decades about the changes and the loss of national identity, the affiliation he feels with some of the emotions expressed by the people that actually do have far right beliefs is genuine. In my opinion this song is not as ironic as I thought it was when it was first released.
I'm not saying that he supports all of the ideals that these far right nationalist groups promote, but his connection with this kid he's singing about is more than just seeing him as a lost young man in with the wrong crowd. It's almost like "this is a stupid way to go about it but I understand what you're talking about."
And how far is "England for the English" from comments he made in that 2007 NME article?

All of that doesn't really matter to the song. I think the reason it's so powerful is because it is a real situation and we're able to understand this character whether we agree or not. It's more powerful because it's left unresolved and you have to think for yourself. But it's not a simple ironic statement. It's ridiculous for him to be demonized for the lyrics of a song, especially one that leaves the interpretation to the listener. But let's also not pretend that this is an example where poor Morrissey didn't know what he was doing and the evil press wanted to use this innocent song to destroy him. It's ambiguous and it it wasn't it wouldn't be as strong.
9/10
 

Nikita

Senior Member
Alain does not say a word about his "inspiration" for the tune:


Funny to hear that after My Love Life, whose beginning is highly inspired by Subway Train; it seems that sometimes Morrissey just asks for a specific tune - most blatant example being A Girl Least Likely To.
 

Mike Rourke

Active Member
Not sure if Alain's solo version has done the rounds.
In case it hasn't, here it is:

Arguably Alain's most melodic composition - up there with the best of Johnny Marr's Smiths tunes.
 
There have been many times, albeit them increasingly infrequent, when Moz has captured lightening in a bottle. Where inspiration and the prevailing cultural zeitgeist meet.

I bought Your Arsenal from Woolworths who were playing 'We hate it when...' on a loop on the instore playlist.

When I got home, this track stood out. I then took it in my walkman to play around the streets where the NF had obtained local council seats from a disaffected electorate.

No one else would write a song like this. It captured the mood on the streets perfectly. The bewildered parent, the wallflower peer group, the 'David' who has betrayed the values of his upbringing and been indoctrinated by quarter truths (The government don't care about the working class etc).

Those were some heady songwriting heights. Getting goosebumps just writing about it.
 

CJM

Practising troublemaker
A superlative song, for me (The) National Front Disco is one of the best from Your Arsenal, ergo, one of the best of the more rock oriented songs Morrissey has ever performed. Of course Morrissey has always been targeted by defamatory cretins, but singling this song out as right wing, racist or what-have-you is bloody ridiculous. It is just a great song!
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
It's interesting to me that many of the reviews weren't bothered at all by the subject matter of this song when the album was released.

Q Magazine said: "The National Front Disco shows a bold willingness to re-open old debates..."

Vox simply described it as "catchy" and left it at that.

Select commented: "Mischievous? Ironic? Inflammatory? Who knows? Jolly good tune, though."
 

Hovis Lesley

Well-Known Member
I love the song and love hearing the live versions, but I'm going to be contrarian and ask if the media really set Morrissey up. I think he certainly gave them everything they needed to do so and I feel that he enjoys doing this and that time has proven this to be so.
As far as the song itself, I mostly agree with Alain's interpretation/explanation. I don't see anything wrong with making David a somewhat sympathetic character, either. Young, misguided and "got in with the wrong crowd."
Still, I think it's possible to hear the song different ways. For example, one line which goes, "we wonder if the thunder is ever really gonna begin" which sounds like it could describe this group that David has joined waiting around for this event they've all been told will happen soon, much like the die hard QAnon people now. But after he says this, he repeats "begin, oh begin," and it's not hard to imagine that he sounds like he's really urging on this event.
Another part
"There's a country,
You don't live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you're made of,
Ah, then you might do."
This is talking about a mythical country, "you don't live there," but it's a dream that could come true. And when you combine this idea with the references to the wind blowing your life and your dreams away, and the things Morrissey has repeatedly said over decades about the changes and the loss of national identity, the affiliation he feels with some of the emotions expressed by the people that actually do have far right beliefs is genuine. In my opinion this song is not as ironic as I thought it was when it was first released.
I'm not saying that he supports all of the ideals that these far right nationalist groups promote, but his connection with this kid he's singing about is more than just seeing him as a lost young man in with the wrong crowd. It's almost like "this is a stupid way to go about it but I understand what you're talking about."
And how far is "England for the English" from comments he made in that 2007 NME article?

All of that doesn't really matter to the song. I think the reason it's so powerful is because it is a real situation and we're able to understand this character whether we agree or not. It's more powerful because it's left unresolved and you have to think for yourself. But it's not a simple ironic statement. It's ridiculous for him to be demonized for the lyrics of a song, especially one that leaves the interpretation to the listener. But let's also not pretend that this is an example where poor Morrissey didn't know what he was doing and the evil press wanted to use this innocent song to destroy him. It's ambiguous and it it wasn't it wouldn't be as strong.
9/10
Yes, in the 90s supportive journalists suggested this song was supposed to be ironic. And you’re quite right to point out that it isn’t.

But then the 90s was a decade when an encounter with spoons, when looking for a knife, was deemed profoundly ironic.
 
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NealCassidy

FREE SPEECH #FBPB
Perfect
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
It's obvious the NME lied - the story changed from the initial reports to the hatchet job.

Plus it's now on YouTube & he's quite clearly not flying the flag & doesn't like the audience.

On a side note The Guardian took a pot shot at Dua Lipa the other day - yet again making the ridiculous suggestion that the flag was problematic because of the National Front & not the British Empire.

 
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