Morrissey photographs you've never seen before

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
I've never seen this one:

Cameron Bird was the interviewer.
This image was actually shot by Michael Muller.

Interview transcript if you're interested (long):
Morrissey drapes his right hand over the heart of a dead, chiseled icon. All afternoon, the isolationist singer with a new and tangible something to promote has been roaming through this pocket of Hollywood with camera flashes trailing. Here and now, with three-o’clock ultraviolet showing the salt in his scaled-back quiff, he’s stopped in the center of a celebrity cemetery and put his paws on a bigger-than-life monument of Johnny Ramone, the dead punk legend. Someplace in the periphery, groundskeepers have no cause to envision what they’re missing. Then again, the mystery-and-misery man has eluded even those who’ve drawn near.

Magically, not a single plain-clothed passerby quickens today to meet or mob Morrissey. A sienna-colored man standing under the open garage door of a rug warehouse stares past the giant-jawed one. In front of the graveyard gates, a rent-a-guard shakes his head horizontally and says nada when asked if he spots a famous face. Inside the fence, a minivan hurtles by without its occupants broadening their eyes toward proximate Morrissey, who tucks a licked-dry bottle of Corona in his back pocket before ascending the silvery, bigger-than-life Ramone cenotaph. The camera clicks as the living and the dead occupy the same parcel.

Though the once bleating, sometimes brash voices of the Ramones and others have edged early over the last clef, Morrissey proceeds, looking further from natural, olden death than he did at the outset of his stage life. That former, cellular version of him, the fey youth who swayed at the bow of The Smiths, hid an undernourished frame with oversized ladies’ blouses. He once threw on an outmoded, conspicuous hearing aid. And through which he could see more and more of the fair-weather world catching his gladiola petals and buying into the Moz Mythology, he wore thick, public healthcare spectacles.

Yes, today finds a broader and sunnier man than the ghost that enchanted postwar Manchester and beyond. But that’s just half the narrative. On the cover of his impending album, Years of Refusal, Morrissey stands clad in a baby-blue shirt with a pasty infant belted under his right arm. The diapered child grins, while the beery sitter’s lips bend at the ends, his chin aims high, and his eyes mug behind deep-set shadows. Broader, sunnier and shorter-sleeved, sure, but something here still broods.

On his ninth solo album, the singer-songwriter long painted as the one miserablist to rule them all bursts into form with a laundry list of antidepressants on his lips. Throwing simplistic caricatures of downtrodden health and wellness into the spokes, he then counterintuitively proclaims on the opening track, “Something is Squeezing My Skull,” that he’s doing “very well.”

Soon enough, as he sits down and sips slowly from his second beer of the sunny day, Morrissey begins to own up to an evolving inner life, ego notwithstanding.

“You don’t mind if I smoke?” he asks, leaning forward to grab and uncap a fresh beer bottle. “I was joking. I’ve never smoked. Never.”

You’re probably better off for it, and yet, yousound quite rebellious—even boisterous—on the new album.

Well, boisterous at my age, I’m not sure. I think it’s certainly more attacking and volcanic, confrontational, but that’s naturally me. There’s absolutely no design, no master plan, no clashing of heads. That’s just how it turns out.

Choosing Jerry Finn [the storied American record producer who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died after wrapping up Years of Refusal] for this album seems to have upped the intensity of your sonic attack. How has his death impacted you?

It was unbearable for a while. We had the playback at his house, and a couple of weeks later he was in Cedars-Cyanide [L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center], and it was absolutely dreadful. Completely unbelievable. It’s astonishing that one minute you can be making an album with somebody and looking forward to the future, and he isn’t around to see the release. Rolling Stone magazine erroneously—of course—gave the report that he died during the recording, but that wasn’t true. And they were told that it wasn’t true. It was horribly, horribly sad.

But it’s a lesson for everybody: There is no such thing as safety. It can happen to anyone at any time. There’s no such thing as security. And although we try to instill in ourselves a sense that we should try to make the most of every day, of course we don’t. And you may go to the funeral of a friend, and you may think the deepest and the darkest and the most profound thoughts, but the next day, you’re worrying about the most pathetic and petty things.

Where do you go, then, for comfort? Where’s home these days?


I’m here in Los Angeles most of the time. I put my house up for sale [three years ago] and it sold instantly...it was a surprisingly snap purchase, and I couldn’t quite work it out. I thought it’d be on the market for months and months, but within seconds, I was homeless. And everything I possess is in a warehouse in Inglewood. I’ve only gone once because it’s depressing to see all your stuff squashed up in all these big crates and so forth. It’s a bit distressing.

Then, I lived in a hotel in Rome for a year, but I don’t belong anywhere, so I don’t want to live anywhere. In technical fact, I don’t live anywhere.

How long have you been living nowhere?

It’s a recent thing. I concentrate on many cities and I think, “no, no, no, I don’t want to live anywhere at all.” I never felt a sense of belonging anywhere, so I felt, why try to force the matter?

You once—in a 1985 interview—talked about taking long walks around Manchester as a sort of muse. You would stroll, return home and write prolifically. Even without stakes in any one place, are you able to walk down any of your favorite trails without being intercepted by hangers-on?

No, not really. There’s always somebody who either stops or stares at me. But then of course, you can walk through a great big crowd and people will stare, but they won’t necessarily say anything. And it’s a stare that says, “I know you,” or “that face is quite familiar.” I do get surprised by how much I get stopped. Some days it’s interminable.

It’s difficult now because I move around so much, which, in a sense, isn’t difficult at all because it’s a choice. In the days you speak of, the early days of Manchester, I had no choice. I was trapped and I was locked. It was a very violent place, and people accepted the violence but didn’t accept anything else. It’s different now, but back in the ’70s, it was very strange to be obsessed with music. It was a form of leprosy.

And now the threshold of entry into music has been lowered so much. What’s been lost in the transition?


With any of the arts, there has to be an element of struggle. Otherwise, it renders the act completely useless. If you do something that anyone can do, then it has no value. It wasn’t like that in the past. So, in a sense, it has become very...not diluted, but commonplace. It’s only the people who look quite strange who are the genuine article. And it’s only people who look quite straight-laced who are the genuine article.
Now that mass culture is so into looking glamorous and rock and roll, the people who adopt that look are the ones who missed the bus in the first place. And they’re just catching up. When I see a young person who looks absolutely, quizzically peculiar, I’m attracted to them.
Who, in your mind, was the last quizzically peculiar person to do or make something meaningful?
I would think of someone like Anne Sexton, a very beautiful woman and quite glamorous...but the outside of her body had no relation to what was inside. So, for me, she’s steeped in mystery and interest. And, of course, she ended her life, which is greatly dignified.

You think so?

Well, it’s dignified in the sense that there’s only one thing we actually control in our lives and it’s whatever’s inside this envelope. It’s all we control. We’re taught to believe that power is outside of us and that other people know better, and they’re all authority figures. And the police know something that we don’t. It’s absolute rubbish—it isn’t true. We control this, absolutely and entirely. If we decide it’s time not to be here, that’s a decision of great dignity.

Though Morrissey fits the incongruous mold he holds heaven-high for others, there’s a central irony in his idealization of peculiarity: Droves of nondescripts have, over the years, appropriated his pop-up pompadour, his codified vegetarianism and his boredom with the ordinary, not as their own, but as homage. Fans with this and a different degree of commitment sometimes thrust themselves toward the Morrissey of midlife at concerts, landing on stage and enveloping him in their arms. Each one has become a blip among millions.

The mythology of any icon thrives, in part, on the fuel of carbon-copying idolizers. It’s helped enrich Morrissey to a point where he can live in Nowheresville (in plush hotels, to be precise) and put off interview RSVPs until we, the young and the old of the press, start interpreting his aloofness in strange ways. He resents what follows: the psychoanalysis and unregulated creative licenses of the word game, or the way conversations with writers often turn into printed war stories. Someday in the future, his memoirs will straighten—or complicate—matters. For now, Morrissey lukewarmly returns to the hot seat, where, aired out, his isolated struggles feed the myth of his otherness.

Case in point: In 1996, nine summers after the acrimonious dissolution of The Smiths, former drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey, as well as The Smiths’ chief songwriter Johnny Marr, to retrieve a larger slice of the band’s snowballing royalties. Morrissey and Marr had been estranged during the intervening years, and their common cause in court did little to mend the fissures. Nor did it cut Morrissey down to regular size on the witness stand. A High Court judge described Moz as “devious, truculent and unreliable when his own interests were at stake.” Consequently, the front-and-center man and his front-and-center fallout friend Marr lost a million pounds of their lion’s share; Morrissey decamped to Los Angeles, holed up alone in a mansion above the fluorescent tourist trappings of the Sunset Strip and, as all signs indicate, temporarily turned off the hit machine.

Though the judgment didn’t scrub out his accounts, it gave pause to his output and riddled his verse. On the second-to-last song of his 1997 critical darling, Maladjusted, he monotonically got mixed up with the rhythm of a judge’s gavel. In the wake of the album release, he continued touring to sold-out, forward-shoving crowds, but kept his new sounds—if there were any—locked away in his homesteaded head.

Years of Refusal stands as the third part of an unofficial Reformation trilogy for Morrissey. On 2004’s You Are the Quarry, he appeared with a Tommy gun on the cover and a lot of pop-friendly wrath to spit out. On the front of 2006’s Ringleader of the Tormentors, a sophisticated Moz tilts his head on the bridge of a violin; the album itself finds the artist speaking for the first time in a long while about the fire in his once-celibate loins. With 2009’s offering, Morrissey has returned to judicial allusions, promising at one moment on the album to slit the throats of foul-breathed bailiffs. The sonic layers, save for a few soft troughs, ring with a psychic intensity.
But, ah, the album’s most visible component—the man and the child of the cover—could it be? Has the man birthed a new perspective?
"undoubtedly."

“Something within me triggered the understanding that absolutely nothing matters,” he says. “This came from a lifelong worrier. I always over-worried about everything, and over-analyzed and thought really too deeply about every aspect of life. Then suddenly I thought, well, how can anything possibly matter? It doesn’t give one license to be violent or erratic or destructive, but nothing actually matters, and I say that with half a giggle, but it’s true.

“I mean, it’s not as if any of us are of any particular importance. We are just matter floating around the universe, and anything we do and say has practically no bearing on anything. So, why fold yourself up in a ball of confusion about life?”

But you’ve caught and held the attention of millions of people, fans and non-fans alike. That’s no accident.

The basic outline of how my life developed had nothing to do with me. It was simply something I followed. That’s true to this day.
I really don’t give any consideration to the audience. I don’t give any consideration to people who are listening, and I don’t have a great explanation for any recordings because, in most instances, I personally don’t understand them. So, the greater scheme of my life is the truth, and the truth is that nothing matters. It could end tomorrow. It could go on for 300 years. It really doesn’t matter.

So far, what’s surprised you most about your career?

Every hour of every day is a twist for me, I find. Reluctantly, I pray to gods and forces that there will be no twists in life, but it’s not to be. Life leads me, I don’t lead it.

And what about the memoir you’re reportedly writing? How does that figure into life’s unwieldiness?

If you’re 99-and-a-half years old, you can’t be sure of what happens next. Certainly, there just seems to be a natural point when it’s time to speak. Here is mine.
And there has been so much written about me that’s so untrue and misleading and damaging. And I have to bear it. It sticks and becomes part of your legacy and so forth. And that’s quite difficult, but of course, if you dare to be a famous person, you’re out there. You ask for it.

Has any writer captured you in a way that’s pleased you?

No, never. I think there’s just something about the printed word. It’s all very well meeting and speaking with people, and generally it goes quite well. But when the writer has the seclusion of the darkened den, some strange monster develops within him, and something breaks out of his stomach.

I think people who write about music now are not satisfied to be merely factual. They’re not satisfied to merely tell the world, “This happened, this group played here, the audience cheered, everybody left smiling and we all went home.” I think the modern writer feels they must make everything seem wrong. Yes, criticism moves everything on, but I think, as a writer, you might find yourself criticizing people for something that you yourself have never mastered. It would be quite acceptable if everybody who wrote about music had themselves made music for many, many years. But it’s never the case.

How many more years do you want to continue making music?


I don’t want to go on much longer, really. I think that would suggest a lack of imagination. A certain lack of dignity also. There has to reach a point where you’ve said enough, I think.

I think it’s human nature to believe that this strange, peculiar story goes on forever, and that one is indestructible, and obviously we’ll all die peacefully of old age. But that’s not the case.

In the meantime, you have a 50th birthday to plan, right?


Well, I can’t avoid that, as much as I’d like to.

All 3,500 seats of the Apollo Theatre in Manchester have been spoken for. Morrissey, the giant-jawed, huge-headed myth, will return to his birthplace on his birthday, May 22, and look blurrily young from the altitude of the nosebleed seats. “The sound, the smell, and the spray”—auras he once glorified in an early tune—will be democratically disbursed, while some carbon-copies and devotees will undoubtedly try to break through walls of security. Press has envisioned The Smiths reforming out of thin air that night, but the more the fantasy circulates, the less likely it is to materialize. Idle talk proves dangerous, recorded history holds.

Back at the place of the dead in Hollywood, there’s about to be a minor breakthrough. On a wandering search for another gravesite he’s sure is here, Morrissey passes headstones marked De Mille, Chaplin, Huston. Nowhere rest Sexton, Oscar Wilde or James Dean, the self-made martyrs who’ve sculpted his outlook, his defeatist humor, and his grooming. In front of an elaborate monument shaped like a paperclip but sized like a small house, Morrissey chimes softly in: “Where else ought a rich man to bury his investment?”

Around a bend, he halts, unable to track down the next marker he’s set out to meditatively observe and read. He circles around in place, his eyes searching the grounds, and then, the tree-shaded tombstone presents itself directly in front of him. He steps forward, moving his fingers along the cold, stone edges and laying his head against the headstone marked “Dee Dee Ramone,” another founding father of a musical movement laid to rest. A shutter snaps toward Morrissey, looking half-dead, as roused groundskeepers roll in on motorized carts to end the trespass

Without acknowledging the existence of conflict, Morrissey rises to his feet and beelines toward the cemetery gates. A timepiece swings on each of his wrists as he leaves the world of death, and a smattering of us, behind. We offer explanations, excuses, and fibs to the keepers, who miss the point of this outing, and who don’t see or feel drawn to the one who’s getting away.

Shaken free with a warning, we follow.

Another from the Filter Magazine shoot:

20190619_032009.jpg


Regards,
FWD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Cameron Bird was the interviewer.
This image was actually shot by Michael Muller.

Interview transcript if you're interested (long):
Morrissey drapes his right hand over the heart of a dead, chiseled icon. All afternoon, the isolationist singer with a new and tangible something to promote has been roaming through this pocket of Hollywood with camera flashes trailing. Here and now, with three-o’clock ultraviolet showing the salt in his scaled-back quiff, he’s stopped in the center of a celebrity cemetery and put his paws on a bigger-than-life monument of Johnny Ramone, the dead punk legend. Someplace in the periphery, groundskeepers have no cause to envision what they’re missing. Then again, the mystery-and-misery man has eluded even those who’ve drawn near.

Magically, not a single plain-clothed passerby quickens today to meet or mob Morrissey. A sienna-colored man standing under the open garage door of a rug warehouse stares past the giant-jawed one. In front of the graveyard gates, a rent-a-guard shakes his head horizontally and says nada when asked if he spots a famous face. Inside the fence, a minivan hurtles by without its occupants broadening their eyes toward proximate Morrissey, who tucks a licked-dry bottle of Corona in his back pocket before ascending the silvery, bigger-than-life Ramone cenotaph. The camera clicks as the living and the dead occupy the same parcel.

Though the once bleating, sometimes brash voices of the Ramones and others have edged early over the last clef, Morrissey proceeds, looking further from natural, olden death than he did at the outset of his stage life. That former, cellular version of him, the fey youth who swayed at the bow of The Smiths, hid an undernourished frame with oversized ladies’ blouses. He once threw on an outmoded, conspicuous hearing aid. And through which he could see more and more of the fair-weather world catching his gladiola petals and buying into the Moz Mythology, he wore thick, public healthcare spectacles.

Yes, today finds a broader and sunnier man than the ghost that enchanted postwar Manchester and beyond. But that’s just half the narrative. On the cover of his impending album, Years of Refusal, Morrissey stands clad in a baby-blue shirt with a pasty infant belted under his right arm. The diapered child grins, while the beery sitter’s lips bend at the ends, his chin aims high, and his eyes mug behind deep-set shadows. Broader, sunnier and shorter-sleeved, sure, but something here still broods.

On his ninth solo album, the singer-songwriter long painted as the one miserablist to rule them all bursts into form with a laundry list of antidepressants on his lips. Throwing simplistic caricatures of downtrodden health and wellness into the spokes, he then counterintuitively proclaims on the opening track, “Something is Squeezing My Skull,” that he’s doing “very well.”

Soon enough, as he sits down and sips slowly from his second beer of the sunny day, Morrissey begins to own up to an evolving inner life, ego notwithstanding.

“You don’t mind if I smoke?” he asks, leaning forward to grab and uncap a fresh beer bottle. “I was joking. I’ve never smoked. Never.”

You’re probably better off for it, and yet, yousound quite rebellious—even boisterous—on the new album.

Well, boisterous at my age, I’m not sure. I think it’s certainly more attacking and volcanic, confrontational, but that’s naturally me. There’s absolutely no design, no master plan, no clashing of heads. That’s just how it turns out.

Choosing Jerry Finn [the storied American record producer who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died after wrapping up Years of Refusal] for this album seems to have upped the intensity of your sonic attack. How has his death impacted you?

It was unbearable for a while. We had the playback at his house, and a couple of weeks later he was in Cedars-Cyanide [L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center], and it was absolutely dreadful. Completely unbelievable. It’s astonishing that one minute you can be making an album with somebody and looking forward to the future, and he isn’t around to see the release. Rolling Stone magazine erroneously—of course—gave the report that he died during the recording, but that wasn’t true. And they were told that it wasn’t true. It was horribly, horribly sad.

But it’s a lesson for everybody: There is no such thing as safety. It can happen to anyone at any time. There’s no such thing as security. And although we try to instill in ourselves a sense that we should try to make the most of every day, of course we don’t. And you may go to the funeral of a friend, and you may think the deepest and the darkest and the most profound thoughts, but the next day, you’re worrying about the most pathetic and petty things.

Where do you go, then, for comfort? Where’s home these days?


I’m here in Los Angeles most of the time. I put my house up for sale [three years ago] and it sold instantly...it was a surprisingly snap purchase, and I couldn’t quite work it out. I thought it’d be on the market for months and months, but within seconds, I was homeless. And everything I possess is in a warehouse in Inglewood. I’ve only gone once because it’s depressing to see all your stuff squashed up in all these big crates and so forth. It’s a bit distressing.

Then, I lived in a hotel in Rome for a year, but I don’t belong anywhere, so I don’t want to live anywhere. In technical fact, I don’t live anywhere.

How long have you been living nowhere?

It’s a recent thing. I concentrate on many cities and I think, “no, no, no, I don’t want to live anywhere at all.” I never felt a sense of belonging anywhere, so I felt, why try to force the matter?

You once—in a 1985 interview—talked about taking long walks around Manchester as a sort of muse. You would stroll, return home and write prolifically. Even without stakes in any one place, are you able to walk down any of your favorite trails without being intercepted by hangers-on?

No, not really. There’s always somebody who either stops or stares at me. But then of course, you can walk through a great big crowd and people will stare, but they won’t necessarily say anything. And it’s a stare that says, “I know you,” or “that face is quite familiar.” I do get surprised by how much I get stopped. Some days it’s interminable.

It’s difficult now because I move around so much, which, in a sense, isn’t difficult at all because it’s a choice. In the days you speak of, the early days of Manchester, I had no choice. I was trapped and I was locked. It was a very violent place, and people accepted the violence but didn’t accept anything else. It’s different now, but back in the ’70s, it was very strange to be obsessed with music. It was a form of leprosy.

And now the threshold of entry into music has been lowered so much. What’s been lost in the transition?


With any of the arts, there has to be an element of struggle. Otherwise, it renders the act completely useless. If you do something that anyone can do, then it has no value. It wasn’t like that in the past. So, in a sense, it has become very...not diluted, but commonplace. It’s only the people who look quite strange who are the genuine article. And it’s only people who look quite straight-laced who are the genuine article.
Now that mass culture is so into looking glamorous and rock and roll, the people who adopt that look are the ones who missed the bus in the first place. And they’re just catching up. When I see a young person who looks absolutely, quizzically peculiar, I’m attracted to them.
Who, in your mind, was the last quizzically peculiar person to do or make something meaningful?
I would think of someone like Anne Sexton, a very beautiful woman and quite glamorous...but the outside of her body had no relation to what was inside. So, for me, she’s steeped in mystery and interest. And, of course, she ended her life, which is greatly dignified.

You think so?

Well, it’s dignified in the sense that there’s only one thing we actually control in our lives and it’s whatever’s inside this envelope. It’s all we control. We’re taught to believe that power is outside of us and that other people know better, and they’re all authority figures. And the police know something that we don’t. It’s absolute rubbish—it isn’t true. We control this, absolutely and entirely. If we decide it’s time not to be here, that’s a decision of great dignity.

Though Morrissey fits the incongruous mold he holds heaven-high for others, there’s a central irony in his idealization of peculiarity: Droves of nondescripts have, over the years, appropriated his pop-up pompadour, his codified vegetarianism and his boredom with the ordinary, not as their own, but as homage. Fans with this and a different degree of commitment sometimes thrust themselves toward the Morrissey of midlife at concerts, landing on stage and enveloping him in their arms. Each one has become a blip among millions.

The mythology of any icon thrives, in part, on the fuel of carbon-copying idolizers. It’s helped enrich Morrissey to a point where he can live in Nowheresville (in plush hotels, to be precise) and put off interview RSVPs until we, the young and the old of the press, start interpreting his aloofness in strange ways. He resents what follows: the psychoanalysis and unregulated creative licenses of the word game, or the way conversations with writers often turn into printed war stories. Someday in the future, his memoirs will straighten—or complicate—matters. For now, Morrissey lukewarmly returns to the hot seat, where, aired out, his isolated struggles feed the myth of his otherness.

Case in point: In 1996, nine summers after the acrimonious dissolution of The Smiths, former drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey, as well as The Smiths’ chief songwriter Johnny Marr, to retrieve a larger slice of the band’s snowballing royalties. Morrissey and Marr had been estranged during the intervening years, and their common cause in court did little to mend the fissures. Nor did it cut Morrissey down to regular size on the witness stand. A High Court judge described Moz as “devious, truculent and unreliable when his own interests were at stake.” Consequently, the front-and-center man and his front-and-center fallout friend Marr lost a million pounds of their lion’s share; Morrissey decamped to Los Angeles, holed up alone in a mansion above the fluorescent tourist trappings of the Sunset Strip and, as all signs indicate, temporarily turned off the hit machine.

Though the judgment didn’t scrub out his accounts, it gave pause to his output and riddled his verse. On the second-to-last song of his 1997 critical darling, Maladjusted, he monotonically got mixed up with the rhythm of a judge’s gavel. In the wake of the album release, he continued touring to sold-out, forward-shoving crowds, but kept his new sounds—if there were any—locked away in his homesteaded head.

Years of Refusal stands as the third part of an unofficial Reformation trilogy for Morrissey. On 2004’s You Are the Quarry, he appeared with a Tommy gun on the cover and a lot of pop-friendly wrath to spit out. On the front of 2006’s Ringleader of the Tormentors, a sophisticated Moz tilts his head on the bridge of a violin; the album itself finds the artist speaking for the first time in a long while about the fire in his once-celibate loins. With 2009’s offering, Morrissey has returned to judicial allusions, promising at one moment on the album to slit the throats of foul-breathed bailiffs. The sonic layers, save for a few soft troughs, ring with a psychic intensity.
But, ah, the album’s most visible component—the man and the child of the cover—could it be? Has the man birthed a new perspective?
"undoubtedly."

“Something within me triggered the understanding that absolutely nothing matters,” he says. “This came from a lifelong worrier. I always over-worried about everything, and over-analyzed and thought really too deeply about every aspect of life. Then suddenly I thought, well, how can anything possibly matter? It doesn’t give one license to be violent or erratic or destructive, but nothing actually matters, and I say that with half a giggle, but it’s true.

“I mean, it’s not as if any of us are of any particular importance. We are just matter floating around the universe, and anything we do and say has practically no bearing on anything. So, why fold yourself up in a ball of confusion about life?”

But you’ve caught and held the attention of millions of people, fans and non-fans alike. That’s no accident.

The basic outline of how my life developed had nothing to do with me. It was simply something I followed. That’s true to this day.
I really don’t give any consideration to the audience. I don’t give any consideration to people who are listening, and I don’t have a great explanation for any recordings because, in most instances, I personally don’t understand them. So, the greater scheme of my life is the truth, and the truth is that nothing matters. It could end tomorrow. It could go on for 300 years. It really doesn’t matter.

So far, what’s surprised you most about your career?

Every hour of every day is a twist for me, I find. Reluctantly, I pray to gods and forces that there will be no twists in life, but it’s not to be. Life leads me, I don’t lead it.

And what about the memoir you’re reportedly writing? How does that figure into life’s unwieldiness?

If you’re 99-and-a-half years old, you can’t be sure of what happens next. Certainly, there just seems to be a natural point when it’s time to speak. Here is mine.
And there has been so much written about me that’s so untrue and misleading and damaging. And I have to bear it. It sticks and becomes part of your legacy and so forth. And that’s quite difficult, but of course, if you dare to be a famous person, you’re out there. You ask for it.

Has any writer captured you in a way that’s pleased you?

No, never. I think there’s just something about the printed word. It’s all very well meeting and speaking with people, and generally it goes quite well. But when the writer has the seclusion of the darkened den, some strange monster develops within him, and something breaks out of his stomach.

I think people who write about music now are not satisfied to be merely factual. They’re not satisfied to merely tell the world, “This happened, this group played here, the audience cheered, everybody left smiling and we all went home.” I think the modern writer feels they must make everything seem wrong. Yes, criticism moves everything on, but I think, as a writer, you might find yourself criticizing people for something that you yourself have never mastered. It would be quite acceptable if everybody who wrote about music had themselves made music for many, many years. But it’s never the case.

How many more years do you want to continue making music?


I don’t want to go on much longer, really. I think that would suggest a lack of imagination. A certain lack of dignity also. There has to reach a point where you’ve said enough, I think.

I think it’s human nature to believe that this strange, peculiar story goes on forever, and that one is indestructible, and obviously we’ll all die peacefully of old age. But that’s not the case.

In the meantime, you have a 50th birthday to plan, right?


Well, I can’t avoid that, as much as I’d like to.

All 3,500 seats of the Apollo Theatre in Manchester have been spoken for. Morrissey, the giant-jawed, huge-headed myth, will return to his birthplace on his birthday, May 22, and look blurrily young from the altitude of the nosebleed seats. “The sound, the smell, and the spray”—auras he once glorified in an early tune—will be democratically disbursed, while some carbon-copies and devotees will undoubtedly try to break through walls of security. Press has envisioned The Smiths reforming out of thin air that night, but the more the fantasy circulates, the less likely it is to materialize. Idle talk proves dangerous, recorded history holds.

Back at the place of the dead in Hollywood, there’s about to be a minor breakthrough. On a wandering search for another gravesite he’s sure is here, Morrissey passes headstones marked De Mille, Chaplin, Huston. Nowhere rest Sexton, Oscar Wilde or James Dean, the self-made martyrs who’ve sculpted his outlook, his defeatist humor, and his grooming. In front of an elaborate monument shaped like a paperclip but sized like a small house, Morrissey chimes softly in: “Where else ought a rich man to bury his investment?”

Around a bend, he halts, unable to track down the next marker he’s set out to meditatively observe and read. He circles around in place, his eyes searching the grounds, and then, the tree-shaded tombstone presents itself directly in front of him. He steps forward, moving his fingers along the cold, stone edges and laying his head against the headstone marked “Dee Dee Ramone,” another founding father of a musical movement laid to rest. A shutter snaps toward Morrissey, looking half-dead, as roused groundskeepers roll in on motorized carts to end the trespass

Without acknowledging the existence of conflict, Morrissey rises to his feet and beelines toward the cemetery gates. A timepiece swings on each of his wrists as he leaves the world of death, and a smattering of us, behind. We offer explanations, excuses, and fibs to the keepers, who miss the point of this outing, and who don’t see or feel drawn to the one who’s getting away.

Shaken free with a warning, we follow.

Another from the Filter Magazine shoot:

View attachment 50429

Regards,
FWD.
Thank you.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Cameron Bird was the interviewer.
This image was actually shot by Michael Muller.

Interview transcript if you're interested (long):
Morrissey drapes his right hand over the heart of a dead, chiseled icon. All afternoon, the isolationist singer with a new and tangible something to promote has been roaming through this pocket of Hollywood with camera flashes trailing. Here and now, with three-o’clock ultraviolet showing the salt in his scaled-back quiff, he’s stopped in the center of a celebrity cemetery and put his paws on a bigger-than-life monument of Johnny Ramone, the dead punk legend. Someplace in the periphery, groundskeepers have no cause to envision what they’re missing. Then again, the mystery-and-misery man has eluded even those who’ve drawn near.

Magically, not a single plain-clothed passerby quickens today to meet or mob Morrissey. A sienna-colored man standing under the open garage door of a rug warehouse stares past the giant-jawed one. In front of the graveyard gates, a rent-a-guard shakes his head horizontally and says nada when asked if he spots a famous face. Inside the fence, a minivan hurtles by without its occupants broadening their eyes toward proximate Morrissey, who tucks a licked-dry bottle of Corona in his back pocket before ascending the silvery, bigger-than-life Ramone cenotaph. The camera clicks as the living and the dead occupy the same parcel.

Though the once bleating, sometimes brash voices of the Ramones and others have edged early over the last clef, Morrissey proceeds, looking further from natural, olden death than he did at the outset of his stage life. That former, cellular version of him, the fey youth who swayed at the bow of The Smiths, hid an undernourished frame with oversized ladies’ blouses. He once threw on an outmoded, conspicuous hearing aid. And through which he could see more and more of the fair-weather world catching his gladiola petals and buying into the Moz Mythology, he wore thick, public healthcare spectacles.

Yes, today finds a broader and sunnier man than the ghost that enchanted postwar Manchester and beyond. But that’s just half the narrative. On the cover of his impending album, Years of Refusal, Morrissey stands clad in a baby-blue shirt with a pasty infant belted under his right arm. The diapered child grins, while the beery sitter’s lips bend at the ends, his chin aims high, and his eyes mug behind deep-set shadows. Broader, sunnier and shorter-sleeved, sure, but something here still broods.

On his ninth solo album, the singer-songwriter long painted as the one miserablist to rule them all bursts into form with a laundry list of antidepressants on his lips. Throwing simplistic caricatures of downtrodden health and wellness into the spokes, he then counterintuitively proclaims on the opening track, “Something is Squeezing My Skull,” that he’s doing “very well.”

Soon enough, as he sits down and sips slowly from his second beer of the sunny day, Morrissey begins to own up to an evolving inner life, ego notwithstanding.

“You don’t mind if I smoke?” he asks, leaning forward to grab and uncap a fresh beer bottle. “I was joking. I’ve never smoked. Never.”

You’re probably better off for it, and yet, yousound quite rebellious—even boisterous—on the new album.

Well, boisterous at my age, I’m not sure. I think it’s certainly more attacking and volcanic, confrontational, but that’s naturally me. There’s absolutely no design, no master plan, no clashing of heads. That’s just how it turns out.

Choosing Jerry Finn [the storied American record producer who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died after wrapping up Years of Refusal] for this album seems to have upped the intensity of your sonic attack. How has his death impacted you?

It was unbearable for a while. We had the playback at his house, and a couple of weeks later he was in Cedars-Cyanide [L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center], and it was absolutely dreadful. Completely unbelievable. It’s astonishing that one minute you can be making an album with somebody and looking forward to the future, and he isn’t around to see the release. Rolling Stone magazine erroneously—of course—gave the report that he died during the recording, but that wasn’t true. And they were told that it wasn’t true. It was horribly, horribly sad.

But it’s a lesson for everybody: There is no such thing as safety. It can happen to anyone at any time. There’s no such thing as security. And although we try to instill in ourselves a sense that we should try to make the most of every day, of course we don’t. And you may go to the funeral of a friend, and you may think the deepest and the darkest and the most profound thoughts, but the next day, you’re worrying about the most pathetic and petty things.

Where do you go, then, for comfort? Where’s home these days?


I’m here in Los Angeles most of the time. I put my house up for sale [three years ago] and it sold instantly...it was a surprisingly snap purchase, and I couldn’t quite work it out. I thought it’d be on the market for months and months, but within seconds, I was homeless. And everything I possess is in a warehouse in Inglewood. I’ve only gone once because it’s depressing to see all your stuff squashed up in all these big crates and so forth. It’s a bit distressing.

Then, I lived in a hotel in Rome for a year, but I don’t belong anywhere, so I don’t want to live anywhere. In technical fact, I don’t live anywhere.

How long have you been living nowhere?

It’s a recent thing. I concentrate on many cities and I think, “no, no, no, I don’t want to live anywhere at all.” I never felt a sense of belonging anywhere, so I felt, why try to force the matter?

You once—in a 1985 interview—talked about taking long walks around Manchester as a sort of muse. You would stroll, return home and write prolifically. Even without stakes in any one place, are you able to walk down any of your favorite trails without being intercepted by hangers-on?

No, not really. There’s always somebody who either stops or stares at me. But then of course, you can walk through a great big crowd and people will stare, but they won’t necessarily say anything. And it’s a stare that says, “I know you,” or “that face is quite familiar.” I do get surprised by how much I get stopped. Some days it’s interminable.

It’s difficult now because I move around so much, which, in a sense, isn’t difficult at all because it’s a choice. In the days you speak of, the early days of Manchester, I had no choice. I was trapped and I was locked. It was a very violent place, and people accepted the violence but didn’t accept anything else. It’s different now, but back in the ’70s, it was very strange to be obsessed with music. It was a form of leprosy.

And now the threshold of entry into music has been lowered so much. What’s been lost in the transition?


With any of the arts, there has to be an element of struggle. Otherwise, it renders the act completely useless. If you do something that anyone can do, then it has no value. It wasn’t like that in the past. So, in a sense, it has become very...not diluted, but commonplace. It’s only the people who look quite strange who are the genuine article. And it’s only people who look quite straight-laced who are the genuine article.
Now that mass culture is so into looking glamorous and rock and roll, the people who adopt that look are the ones who missed the bus in the first place. And they’re just catching up. When I see a young person who looks absolutely, quizzically peculiar, I’m attracted to them.
Who, in your mind, was the last quizzically peculiar person to do or make something meaningful?
I would think of someone like Anne Sexton, a very beautiful woman and quite glamorous...but the outside of her body had no relation to what was inside. So, for me, she’s steeped in mystery and interest. And, of course, she ended her life, which is greatly dignified.

You think so?

Well, it’s dignified in the sense that there’s only one thing we actually control in our lives and it’s whatever’s inside this envelope. It’s all we control. We’re taught to believe that power is outside of us and that other people know better, and they’re all authority figures. And the police know something that we don’t. It’s absolute rubbish—it isn’t true. We control this, absolutely and entirely. If we decide it’s time not to be here, that’s a decision of great dignity.

Though Morrissey fits the incongruous mold he holds heaven-high for others, there’s a central irony in his idealization of peculiarity: Droves of nondescripts have, over the years, appropriated his pop-up pompadour, his codified vegetarianism and his boredom with the ordinary, not as their own, but as homage. Fans with this and a different degree of commitment sometimes thrust themselves toward the Morrissey of midlife at concerts, landing on stage and enveloping him in their arms. Each one has become a blip among millions.

The mythology of any icon thrives, in part, on the fuel of carbon-copying idolizers. It’s helped enrich Morrissey to a point where he can live in Nowheresville (in plush hotels, to be precise) and put off interview RSVPs until we, the young and the old of the press, start interpreting his aloofness in strange ways. He resents what follows: the psychoanalysis and unregulated creative licenses of the word game, or the way conversations with writers often turn into printed war stories. Someday in the future, his memoirs will straighten—or complicate—matters. For now, Morrissey lukewarmly returns to the hot seat, where, aired out, his isolated struggles feed the myth of his otherness.

Case in point: In 1996, nine summers after the acrimonious dissolution of The Smiths, former drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey, as well as The Smiths’ chief songwriter Johnny Marr, to retrieve a larger slice of the band’s snowballing royalties. Morrissey and Marr had been estranged during the intervening years, and their common cause in court did little to mend the fissures. Nor did it cut Morrissey down to regular size on the witness stand. A High Court judge described Moz as “devious, truculent and unreliable when his own interests were at stake.” Consequently, the front-and-center man and his front-and-center fallout friend Marr lost a million pounds of their lion’s share; Morrissey decamped to Los Angeles, holed up alone in a mansion above the fluorescent tourist trappings of the Sunset Strip and, as all signs indicate, temporarily turned off the hit machine.

Though the judgment didn’t scrub out his accounts, it gave pause to his output and riddled his verse. On the second-to-last song of his 1997 critical darling, Maladjusted, he monotonically got mixed up with the rhythm of a judge’s gavel. In the wake of the album release, he continued touring to sold-out, forward-shoving crowds, but kept his new sounds—if there were any—locked away in his homesteaded head.

Years of Refusal stands as the third part of an unofficial Reformation trilogy for Morrissey. On 2004’s You Are the Quarry, he appeared with a Tommy gun on the cover and a lot of pop-friendly wrath to spit out. On the front of 2006’s Ringleader of the Tormentors, a sophisticated Moz tilts his head on the bridge of a violin; the album itself finds the artist speaking for the first time in a long while about the fire in his once-celibate loins. With 2009’s offering, Morrissey has returned to judicial allusions, promising at one moment on the album to slit the throats of foul-breathed bailiffs. The sonic layers, save for a few soft troughs, ring with a psychic intensity.
But, ah, the album’s most visible component—the man and the child of the cover—could it be? Has the man birthed a new perspective?
"undoubtedly."

“Something within me triggered the understanding that absolutely nothing matters,” he says. “This came from a lifelong worrier. I always over-worried about everything, and over-analyzed and thought really too deeply about every aspect of life. Then suddenly I thought, well, how can anything possibly matter? It doesn’t give one license to be violent or erratic or destructive, but nothing actually matters, and I say that with half a giggle, but it’s true.

“I mean, it’s not as if any of us are of any particular importance. We are just matter floating around the universe, and anything we do and say has practically no bearing on anything. So, why fold yourself up in a ball of confusion about life?”

But you’ve caught and held the attention of millions of people, fans and non-fans alike. That’s no accident.

The basic outline of how my life developed had nothing to do with me. It was simply something I followed. That’s true to this day.
I really don’t give any consideration to the audience. I don’t give any consideration to people who are listening, and I don’t have a great explanation for any recordings because, in most instances, I personally don’t understand them. So, the greater scheme of my life is the truth, and the truth is that nothing matters. It could end tomorrow. It could go on for 300 years. It really doesn’t matter.

So far, what’s surprised you most about your career?

Every hour of every day is a twist for me, I find. Reluctantly, I pray to gods and forces that there will be no twists in life, but it’s not to be. Life leads me, I don’t lead it.

And what about the memoir you’re reportedly writing? How does that figure into life’s unwieldiness?

If you’re 99-and-a-half years old, you can’t be sure of what happens next. Certainly, there just seems to be a natural point when it’s time to speak. Here is mine.
And there has been so much written about me that’s so untrue and misleading and damaging. And I have to bear it. It sticks and becomes part of your legacy and so forth. And that’s quite difficult, but of course, if you dare to be a famous person, you’re out there. You ask for it.

Has any writer captured you in a way that’s pleased you?

No, never. I think there’s just something about the printed word. It’s all very well meeting and speaking with people, and generally it goes quite well. But when the writer has the seclusion of the darkened den, some strange monster develops within him, and something breaks out of his stomach.

I think people who write about music now are not satisfied to be merely factual. They’re not satisfied to merely tell the world, “This happened, this group played here, the audience cheered, everybody left smiling and we all went home.” I think the modern writer feels they must make everything seem wrong. Yes, criticism moves everything on, but I think, as a writer, you might find yourself criticizing people for something that you yourself have never mastered. It would be quite acceptable if everybody who wrote about music had themselves made music for many, many years. But it’s never the case.

How many more years do you want to continue making music?


I don’t want to go on much longer, really. I think that would suggest a lack of imagination. A certain lack of dignity also. There has to reach a point where you’ve said enough, I think.

I think it’s human nature to believe that this strange, peculiar story goes on forever, and that one is indestructible, and obviously we’ll all die peacefully of old age. But that’s not the case.

In the meantime, you have a 50th birthday to plan, right?


Well, I can’t avoid that, as much as I’d like to.

All 3,500 seats of the Apollo Theatre in Manchester have been spoken for. Morrissey, the giant-jawed, huge-headed myth, will return to his birthplace on his birthday, May 22, and look blurrily young from the altitude of the nosebleed seats. “The sound, the smell, and the spray”—auras he once glorified in an early tune—will be democratically disbursed, while some carbon-copies and devotees will undoubtedly try to break through walls of security. Press has envisioned The Smiths reforming out of thin air that night, but the more the fantasy circulates, the less likely it is to materialize. Idle talk proves dangerous, recorded history holds.

Back at the place of the dead in Hollywood, there’s about to be a minor breakthrough. On a wandering search for another gravesite he’s sure is here, Morrissey passes headstones marked De Mille, Chaplin, Huston. Nowhere rest Sexton, Oscar Wilde or James Dean, the self-made martyrs who’ve sculpted his outlook, his defeatist humor, and his grooming. In front of an elaborate monument shaped like a paperclip but sized like a small house, Morrissey chimes softly in: “Where else ought a rich man to bury his investment?”

Around a bend, he halts, unable to track down the next marker he’s set out to meditatively observe and read. He circles around in place, his eyes searching the grounds, and then, the tree-shaded tombstone presents itself directly in front of him. He steps forward, moving his fingers along the cold, stone edges and laying his head against the headstone marked “Dee Dee Ramone,” another founding father of a musical movement laid to rest. A shutter snaps toward Morrissey, looking half-dead, as roused groundskeepers roll in on motorized carts to end the trespass

Without acknowledging the existence of conflict, Morrissey rises to his feet and beelines toward the cemetery gates. A timepiece swings on each of his wrists as he leaves the world of death, and a smattering of us, behind. We offer explanations, excuses, and fibs to the keepers, who miss the point of this outing, and who don’t see or feel drawn to the one who’s getting away.

Shaken free with a warning, we follow.

Another from the Filter Magazine shoot:

View attachment 50429

Regards,
FWD.
Same shoot as the photo where he's tossing the orange in the food truck?
 
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