The Queen Is Dead

On the 8th September 2022, Queen Elizbeth II of the United Kingdom, died.

In the NME’s homophobic hit piece in 1992, they cited, the Smiths song/album, The Queen is Dead, as one of Morrissey’s ‘English Nationalist’ songs.

“Take me back to dear old Blighty…” So sang Cicely Courtneidge in The L-Shaped Room, as grafted onto the evocative intro to ‘The Queen Is Dead”s opening title track. The ’60s kitchen sink movie is one of Morrissey’s pet favourites; the use of the patriotic pub singalong a mere atmosphere-setting quirk on an album littered with ambiguous pro/anti-nationalist signals. But, as ever with the controversy-courting bard of Whalley Range, it conjures images of Old England, Dunkirk spirit, British bulldog nostalgia and — stop us if you’ve heard this one before. (Andrew Collins, NME, 22 August 1992)

Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between archers
Her very Lowness with her head in a sling
I’m truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing

“I say, Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?” Ooh, ooh, ooh
And so I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the 18th pale descendant of some old queen or other

Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
As some 9-year-old tough, who peddles drugs
I swear to God, I swear, I never even knew what drugs were
Ooh, oh-oh, ooh

So I broke into the Palace with a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said, “Eh, I know, and you cannot sing”
I said, “That’s nothing, you should hear me play the piano”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things

But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No one talks about castration, ooh, oh-oh, ooh
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty, ooh-ooh
(These are the things that kill me)

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair, ooh
(These are the things that kill me)
All their life, they make love and then pierce through me

Pass the Pub that saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Pass the Pub that wrecks your body
And the church all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Life is very long when you’re lonely

The Queen Is Dead, 1986, Morrissey

After the death of the Queen the song began to trend on Twitter, and it featured in articles about the pop music she inspired.

Only post-punk’s answer to Noel Coward, the lit-witty Morrissey, could take on the potential decline of the monarchy and the British press’ fascination with the Royal family with such icy, catty aplomb and sniper-like precision. (A D Amorosi, Variety, 8 September 2022)

Morrissey has been slagging Queen Elizabeth for decades, almost too many times to count. Hell, it was even the name of the Smiths’ third studio album. Explaining what motivates his hatred for the royals to an Australian outlet in 2016, he said, “Monarchy represents an unequal and inequitable social system. There is no such thing as a royal person. You either buy into the silliness or else you are intelligent enough to realize that it is all human greed and arrogance.”  (Joe Lynch, Billboard, 9 September 2022)

It also led to more demonisation.

He’s a notable eco-fascist (no examples are given):

It must be stressed that the lead singer of The Smiths, Morrissey, is a notable eco-fascist with a series of very horrendous views. While you can debate separating the art from the artist, Morrissey’s reputation is not salvageable here. (Jamie Dunkin, We Got This Covered, 9 September 2022)

… some on the far right are adopting xenophobic, racist ideas about what’s causing climate change — ideas that are rooted in eco-fascism. Fascism can be defined in many different ways, but typically, the oppressive ideology has characteristics rooted in white identity and violence against marginalized people, such as Black and Brown people, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. Vice describes eco-fascism as an ideology “which blames the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration, and over-industrialization, problems that followers think could be partly remedied through the mass murder of refugees in Western countries.

Adryan Corcione, Teen Vogue, 30 April 2020

He’s a Brexiteer (he isn’t), his politics have turned sharply to the right (they haven’t), his sexuality is entwined with his entire blemished body of work:

But the feeling that comes off the song, the album, and the entire blemished body of Morrissey’s work is his signature blend of fatalism and doomed romanticism. As much as the lyric mentions breaking into Buckingham Palace to speak to “Her Lowness” (who haughtily declares, “I know you and you cannot sing”), “the queen” in the title equally refers to the dandy Morrissey, who’s waiting for his life to start, lost in reveries of third genders and indefinable sexualities. (Simon Reynolds, Pitchfork, 13 September 2022)

He’s further to the right than rabid Royalists or anti-woke, Trump voter, John Lydon (he’s not):

Of her more famous detractors, John Lydon has gone out of his way to say he’s never had anything against her personally; Morrissey’s politics, meanwhile, are now somewhere to the right of rabid royalists. (Bob Stanley, LA Times, 11 September 2022)

Fuck him:

Craig Jenkins, music critic for Vulture/New York Magazine, Twitter, 8 September 2022

Monarchy is more progressive:

Christopher M Frederico, Professor of Political Science and Psychology and Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twitter, 8 September 2022

He’s increasingly fash:

Danya Ruttenberg, Rabbi, editor and author, Twitter, 8 September 2022 – she cites the LA Times hit piece (24 October 2019, Morrissey is anti-immigrant and backs a white nationalist political party. Why don’t fans care?), which is based on the Guardian hit piece (Tim Jonze, 30 May 2019, Bigmouth strikes again and again: why Morrissey fans feel so betrayed), which was written by Tim Jonze, who wrote the 2007 NME hit piece (7 December 2007, Morrissey, Big Mouth Strikes Again), which was a rehash of the NME’s 1992 homophobic hit piece (22 August 1992, Flying the Flag or Flirting with Disaster?)

Side Note:

Dick Gregory, America’s last hope, dies, aged 84. He knew how all aspects of the human condition connect to politics. He was a man of thought and a man of action, when most of us cannot manage to be just one of either. He worked breathlessly – work, words, deeds. He demanded for all what was snatched by the few. He disturbed the White House, and he was too quick for the American print media. They will be pleased that he now ceases to be amongst us… as we are left with earth-threatening Trump, who will race into war in search of peace.

Morrissey, 20 August 2017, Switzerland, posted on his nephew’s Facebook page
Morrissey with Dick Gregory, posted on his nephew’s Facebook page, 20 August 2017

Side Note 2:

What A Creep podcast compared him to a wife beater (Ike Turner), and two alleged sexual predators (Win Butler of Arcade Fire, and Ryan Adams).

Morrissey has never been accused of physical violence or sex crimes.

Twitter, 14 September 2022