From the beginning of Morrissey’s career he talked about his mental health issues and his problems with social interaction.
It is difficult to describe how really insular I was… I was entirely on my own… I found life unbearable at times… the fear and anguish… I seemed to be more depressed than anyone else. (Morrissey, Blitz, April 1988)
Before he was famous he was excluded and othered, after he was famous it continued.
One of the lads said, “you ought to hear the voice!” It was a very girlish, effeminate voice and his mannerisms were very effeminate – Noel Devaney on Morrissey’s first school day. (Johnny Rogan, the Smiths, Omnibus Press, 1994)
“Morrissey,” remembers Paul Morley, “was always laughed at in Manchester when we were kids. He was the village idiot. That’s the ironic thing – now he’s the poet of a generation. But in those days he was ‘that-one-in-the-corner, Steve the Nutter’.” (Jessica Berens, Spin, September, 1986)
[to Morrissey] I remember who and what you used to be. You were like the village idiot, the odd one out, the backward boy. (Paul Morley Blitz, April 1988)
When he was violently attacked by homophobes at Finsbury Park in 1992, the music press blamed him for it, labelling him a racist by twisting his words out of context, guilt by association, and falsely claiming that touching the Union Jack was fascist. It then became acceptable to gaslight him, monster him & be ableist.
To be a national treasure you have to be likable. Is Morrissey likable any more? I’m almost loth to say that he isn’t, because to do so would be to play into the persecution complex he has been nurturing for the best part of his solo career. Even when he makes pronouncements that, broadly speaking, I agree with, there’s something about the way he makes them that makes me recoil…“I do feel as though I have been somewhat victimised,” he told Mojo a few years ago. But what has he been “victimised” for? The 1992 show where he sang “The National Front Disco” draped in a union flag seems to have been a turning point. At the time, I was one of the few people in the music press who felt that Morrissey should have been given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was trying to make some arcane point about the nature of Britishness to a park full of Madness fans. In retrospect, though, it seems pretty clear that he was defying people to misunderstand him… (Peter Paphides, The Guardian, March, 2012)
The King of the Trolls title is hard to win. Between professional Russian tweeters and amateur armies of online haters doing battle with everything from CNN to Starbucks, there is no shortage of competition. But even in this crowded field, Morrissey shines like a true champion. (Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, 7 December 2017)
Ultimately, you can’t help feeling that not only did Morrissey need Johnny Marr to achieve greatness, but the guitarist was also a restraining and civilising influence on his songwriting partner. (Mark Phillips, Medium, November 2019)
Morrissey isn’t senile, he’s always been a racist. (Mangal Media/Freedom Magazine, August 2019).
We interviewed Bid from The Monochrome Set whose view was that the creative part of Morrissey’s brain operated separately from the part that was prone to “spouting rubbish”. One of Svenja’s friends has been diagnosed with a mild form of Asperger Syndrome, a disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction and repetitive behaviour. Her friend is adamant that they recognise aspects of their condition in his behaviour… Morrissey may well be socially awkward, like many creative people. But he’s not stupid. He has walked a thin line courting controversy and the uglier aspects of human sentiment. He knows exactly what he’s done and he’s made a very good living from it. His problem is that he has lost a lot of income and audience, and I’m sure he won’t enjoy being categorised under “racist cunt”. (Phil Ross, Louder Than War, March 19, 2020)
I feel that as a black man liking music made mainly by white people it means I will have to wince every now and then at lyrics… not to mention whatever Morrissey says… ever. (Gabriel Ebulue, the Quietus, 13 November 2019)
Then there’s their Irishness and the punk moment. Shane was immensely inspired by John Lydon. The Irish thing cannot be overlooked, as they were crucial to English pop music. John Lennon, Billy Fury, if we can still mention his name, Morrissey. There’s a great deal of Irish presence in English music. What’s different about MacGowan is that he made a real point of being Irish. (Julian Temple, Flood Magazine, December 2020)
Side Note: everyone else in rock gets forgiven.
Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Joy Division, Lemmy, Banshees… bit of Nazi trouble. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2007/apr/16/news.joydivision
Eric Clapton had a bizarre racist period. https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/eric-clapton-opens-up-even-on-his-bizarre-racist-period-1.3327327
Elvis Costello was drunk… After 2AM he described James Brown as a “jive-arsed n——” and Ray Charles as a “blind, ignorant n——.” https://ultimateclassicrock.com/elvis-costello-racist-remarks/
The Cure’s killing an Arab is literature. https://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/censor-87.php
John Lydon racially assaulting a black singer, supporting Trump, Farage & Brexit, & hating left-wingers, is complex. https://theoutline.com/post/1315/johnny-rotten-would-hate-john-lydon
Worn Nazi imagery? Stabbed your girlfriend? Fragile and damaged. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/jan/18/sid-vicious-death-icon
It was right-wing to object to Marilyn Manson… ‘I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.’ (Spin, 2009) … nobody even batted an eyelash at these overt admissions of violence.… (Glamour, March 2018) https://www.glamour.com/story/why-is-nobody-talking-about-marilyn-mansons-fantasy-of-killing-evan-rachel-wood
Mark E Smith was ‘far too complex or intelligent to be a mere ogre‘. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/mark-e-smith-the-fall
“From the opening, combative ‘The Classical’ the album seethes with rancour (the opening line “Where are the obligatory n—–s? Hey there, fuck face!” although not racist in the context of the song, is unpleasant to say the least and, unsurprisingly, cost them a record deal with Motown)”... the first thing that I failed to do when writing about ‘The Classical’ was to put the song in a solid contemporary context. Smith was far from the only musician dropping the n-word in this period and this usage exists right at the periphery of a much more well established continuum. (John Doran, the Quietus, 13 November 2019) https://thequietus.com/articles/27427-hex-enduction-hour-the-classical-the-fall-racist
… I’m fit and working again
And I feel like Alan Minter
I just ate eight sheets of blotting paper
And I chucked out the Alka Seltzer… (Fit and Working Again, The Fall, 1987)