Photo of the book cover by G.
Morrissey will disapprove of this review.
There are so many levels to “Autobiography” by Morrissey, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I could start by saying this is one of the most poetically written books I’ve ever read (volumes of actual poetry included). Stephen Patrick Morrissey’s 450 page account of his own life sometimes makes you laugh, sometimes makes you want to become a poet and sometimes makes you want to hunt him down and smack the shit out of him.
It’s well over 100 pages before he even starts to talk about his own music career, opting instead to tell you about why Lou Reed and David Bowie are geniuses (no shit, Sherlock!). He also spends a great deal of those 100 plus pages (a trend that runs throughout the book) complaining about how life has wronged him and how none of it is his fault. In those rare moments where Morrissey drops a story such as one where he waited at a hotel to meet a band in his adolescence, talking about hanging out with rockers such as Chrissie Hynde, Nancy Sinatra or Bowie, you want to take Morrissey home with you and embrace him forever. When he (poetically) talks about his old teachers, the venom and bitterness he still feels towards them all these years later makes you just want to shout at your book – GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!!!
You almost never get the story behind the songs or music and instead, you learn of every single bad review, bad interview, bad business deal and bad manager Morrissey has had – and sadly, there are a lot. When he talks about his former Smiths band member Mike Joyce (drums) suing Morrissey and Johnny Marr for royalties, you feel sympathy at first because in reality, this case should have been thrown out immediately, but instead, the court case drags on and he punishes the reader for over 40 pages whereby you start to think that it is you who are actually on trial.
Despite never achieving Beatles-level success, The Smiths have firmly carved out their place in rock and roll history, yet that doesn’t seem to be good enough for the Moz who only mentions many of his solo or Smiths songs just to let you know that despite being pegged to debut at number one during their week of release, somehow they did not. He lets the reader know that he is ultra-sensitive and cries a lot, but doesn’t ever seem to realize a basic spiritual principle that we create our own destiny. He fails to recognize that maybe, just maybe he has caused these bad things to happen in his life. He rarely shows gratitude and wherever possible, he picks apart even the best of circumstances. Even towards the end of the book, he talks about the love that audiences shower him with nightly and not only is it not enough but it makes him look away.
If you’ve ever met Morrissey in person, you know in advance that you are almost guaranteed to have a bad experience (in many times of seeing him in the flesh, one of those many was positive for me) and as you read this book, it’s no wonder – he’s quite a miserable curmudgeon who seems impossible to please. With such a great gift to bestow upon the world, I find it really sad that he chooses to live his life so negatively. It’s also kind of shocking that after spilling the words out onto these pages, he never once has the epiphany that maybe it is HE who should change. After a lifetime of unsuccessfully playing and losing at the blame game, perhaps it is finally time Morrissey take responsibility for his own actions.
But for better or for worse this is who Morrissey is and his words, whether sung or written, are essential.