On the 25th of January 2022, Morrissey Central published an Open Letter from Morrissey to Johnny Marr requesting him to stop talking about him.
This is not a rant or an hysterical bombast. It is a polite and calmly measured request: Would you please stop mentioning my name in your interviews?
Would you please, instead, discuss your own career, your own unstoppable solo achievements and your own music?
If you can, would you please just leave me out of it?
The fact is: you don’t know me. You know nothing of my life, my intentions, my thoughts, my feelings. Yet you talk as if you were my personal psychiatrist with consistent and uninterrupted access to my instincts. We haven’t known each other for 35 years – which is many lifetimes ago. When we met you and I were not successful. We both helped each other become whatever it is we are today. Can you not just leave it at that? Must you persistently, year after year, decade after decade, blame me for everything … from the 2007 Solomon Islands tsunami to the dribble on your grandma’s chin ?
You found me inspirational enough to make music with me for 6 years. If I was, as you claim, such an eyesore monster, where exactly did this leave you? Kidnapped? Mute? Chained? Abducted by cross-eyed extraterrestrials? It was YOU who played guitar on ‘Golden Lights’ – not me.
Yes, we all know that the British press will print anything you say about me as long as it’s cruel and savage. But you’ve done all that. Move on. It’s as if you can’t uncross your own legs without mentioning me. Our period together was many lifetimes ago, and a lot of blood has streamed under the bridge since then. There comes a time when you must take responsibility for your own actions and your own career, with which I wish you good health to enjoy. Just stop using my name as click-bait. I have not ever attacked your solo work or your solo life, and I have openly applauded your genius during the days of ‘Louder than bombs’ and ‘Strangeways, here we come’, yet you have positioned yourself ever ready as rent-a-quote whenever the press require an ugly slant on something I half-said during the last glacial period as the Colorado River began to carve out the Grand Canyon. Please stop. It is 2022, not 1982. https://www.morrisseycentral.com/messagesfrommorrissey/open-letter-to-johnny-marr
Marr replied on Twitter linking Morrissey to Donald Trump to reinforce the myth that Morrissey is right-wing.
Morrissey was against Trump.
But guilt by association doesn’t need you to actually associate – so there was a pile-on. Marr underlined it by changing his profile picture to his Simpsons character. Morrissey’s character had been depicted as a fat, gay, meat-eating racist.
With no stand out word or phrase in the letter to demonise him with, it was denouced wholesale as bitchy, moany, odious (Rock’s Back Pages emailed their subscribers the NME’s homophobic hit piece from 22 August 1992 to remind them that Morrissey is a racist) & untruthful – with journalists insisting that Marr has to be cajoled into talking about Morrissey as if Morrissey should know that esp as Marr is cajoled nearly every time.
It’s not quite clear what Johnny Marr said recently to piss off Morrissey, but it resulted in an extremely bitchy “open letter” from the former Smiths singer to his one-time guitarist and songwriting partner. (Rolling Stone, January 2022)
And they added in a selection of old scandals from words taken out of context and negatively editorialised.
The Guardian chose Hitler, Brexit, Rape Apologist, Immigration, Merseyrail, and For Britain. The Independent chose For Britain, Hitler, Own Race and Khan’s Accent. Consequence went for Con-Vid and For Britain.
Morrissey last mentioned For Britain – a party he didn’t vote for, join, or give money to – in May 2019.
Side Note 1: The NME kept it general with ‘controversial‘ Morrissey & ‘legendary‘ Marr. Which is the what they’d wanted since the Smiths split.
I must admit, pestered Marr. A relentless mixture of journo and fan… the true story of The Smiths has become a prisoner of Morrissey’s whimsical memory and busy tongue, and, worse, the loaded imaginings of hacks… Marr has steeled himself and agreed to do a once-and-for-all, no-holds-barred interview about the band that, more than any other, illuminated ’80s Britpop.
He has chosen his moment with care. The imminent release of Electronic’s second single (‘Get The Message’); and the album that’ll quickly follow, will place Marr at the creative crux of his second great band. It will confirm him as one of the most gifted and influential musicians of the last decade. Maybe the most.
Before we start, one more thing needs making crystal clear; Johnny Marr is a Very Happy Man. And why not? At 27 years of age (27? Shocking, isn’t it?) he has it all, sorted. A career on the very brink of new pinnacles: a blessed marriage to Angie; a collection of guitars vast enough to satisfy even as voracious an axe-freak as he; a car too big for most of the streets of his native Manchester; a studio refuge in the depths of his home. Did I say ‘happy ? This, people, is the proverbial pig in shit.
But best of all, though, is Johnny Marr’s healthy relationship with his past. He has refused to let it haunt or hinder him. Nor is he cramped, like some, by an undue reverence for Morrissey. Indeed, he (like all the Factory mafia) now refers to his former soulmate as ‘Dorissey’ and has re-christened the limpid lad’s last 45 (‘Our Frank’) as ‘Alf Wank’. (Danny Kelly, NME, April 1991) https://mycuttings.blogspot.com/2021/03/1991-04-20-johnny-marr-nme.html
Side Note 2: if Morrissey mimicked a Black artist it would have been a scandal:
This is nervy, routine business-avoidance. We’re here to talk Smiths. Start at the start.
“I was born a poor black chile …” he grins, in one last attempt at stalling. (Danny Kelly, Johnny Marr, NME, April 1991)
Side Note 3: more evidence that straight male rock stars can say anything.
The Guardian defends Neil Young’s right-wing homophobic phase:
Politically-speaking, its hard to exorcise the ghost of his 1980s pronouncements, when he swung hard-right behind the Reagan presidency and lashed out at gays (“you go to the supermarket and you see a faggot behind the fucking cash register, you don’t want him to handle your potatoes”) and welfare spongers. “Stop being supported by the government and get out and work,” Neil advised. “You have to make the weak stand up on one leg, or half a leg, whatever they’ve got.” Set against all this, however, is some of the finest music of the last 30 years; a body of work that’s at once earthy yet haunting. Marshalling the case for the defence I would direct the jury, in particular, to listen to Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Goldrush, the wonderfully sepulchral Tonight’s the Night, choice portions of Harvest, Zuma and Rust Never Sleeps, and the whole of On the Beach (recently reissued and every bit as good as I remember it) (Xan Brooks, the Guardian, September 2003) https://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/sep/17/popandrock.neilyoung
And fabricates Morrissey into a right-winger because of a couple of out of context quotes. Morrissey had expressed support for left-winger Bernie Sanders in June 2016 and left-winger Jeremy Corbyn in September 2015 and had released a political manifesto that was all about animal welfare in March 2016 when he considered running for London mayor on behalf of the left-wing Animal Welfare Party.
Did he and Morrissey have similar politics? “Yeah, we did back then.” And now? “I wouldn’t expect so. Probably not.” In recent years, Morrissey has made headlines for suggesting that immigration is compromising British identity; he sued the NME (successfully) for defamation, releasing a statement that “racism has no place in our society”. In a 2010 interview with this magazine, he described the Chinese as a “subspecies” when it came to their treatment of animals. Marr prefers to talk about the days when Morrissey reserved his bile for Margaret Thatcher. (Simon Hattenstone, the Guardian, October 2016) https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/29/johnny-marr-the-smiths-morrissey-simon-hattenstone