Morrissey - World Peace is None of Your Business
How I came to my devotion to Morrissey is an interesting story. I was in college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas, living in a dormitory next door to a friend that wrote album reviews for the college newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler. He had just gotten an advanced copy of an album by some British band he found off-putting and wondered if I had heard it. He didn't like writing negative reviews and was looking for something positive to say about the record. I played it and ended up writing the review myself. I was immediately drawn to the images created from Morrissey's words. The music was fantastic but the lyrics meant more to me, somehow speaking straight to my soul and reassuring me I wasn't alone in my thoughts.
That I think is the difference between a "Smiths" fan and a "Morrissey" fan. I can't say I have ever felt the dramatic difference in overall sound between Smiths or Morrissey records. The biggest change from that first Smiths record to now is that the marriage between the music and the lyrics has grown more simpatico. That first Smiths record was almost uncomfortable to listen to, which is why my friend had a hard time relating to it, like the singer and the band were performing difference songs at the same time. I honed in on vocals and let the rest of it wash over me which created a wonderful feeling while listening to it.
On to the present... I just came back from the post office with my preorder package including t-shirt and poster! I have been listening to the album since it was streamable on npr last week, and downloaded the deluxe version yesterday morning and listened at work several times more. I never find it easy to name a favorite Morriseey track from any album and this album is no different. I like the sentiment behind "Earth is the Loneliest Planet", but "I'm Not a Man" brings more interesting concepts into focus. I hear a voice on this record that is rather tired of pointing out the inhumanity within the human race, and yet is still compelled by his convictions to say how he feels...to 'sing his life'.
I liked the unique spoken word videos that previewed each new single prior to the albums release. Each was artistically different and yet had a common tone. I tend to accept these things at face value though - unsure whether they were the concept of Morrissey or the record label. I am sure that once they moved into production the final result will have been more Morrissey than anyone else.
"World Peace is None of Your Business" idealistically has a bit of a contention with me. I feel it is a bit simplistic and fatalistic. I am not a fan of stating what you are against unless you have some notion of what you propose as an alternative. This song points out the current pointlessness of Government and the absurdity of trying to change it. However, besides not voting, there are no good suggestions of actions to take to change the situation, and voting seems to be the only potential road to making worthwhile changes while embracing "World Peace" . Regardless the song rocks and the feelings of frustration are shared - there is only so much you can do in four and a half minutes.
"Neal Cassady Drops Dead" I take as another ode to an icon of his. I am a bit jaded in regards to the Beat Generation and the romancing of their relationships and lifestyle. Maybe because so many rather bad movies have been made trying to capture the essence of freedom and creativity they experienced and failed. I think it something that only those living it can truly comprehend and can't accurately be summed up in a movie. Neal Cassady lived his life on his own terms and embraced what he felt for people rather than trying to force himself into society acceptable containers. Morrissey does better in a brief song to shine a spark of light on the complexity of a life determined to be lived than any movie or book I have seen or read on the same subject.
"I'm Not a Man" seems to be garnering the most critical attention from reviewers with comments ranging from questioning Morrissey's gender role identity to whether or not he is losing his mind. I don't really see where all that is coming from. The song just seems to be a rally against stereotypes, in particular what is seen as masculinity. Didn't Joe Jackson so the same thing in his song "Real Men"? It is the longest song on the album and comes closest to the theatrics and scope of "Life is a Pigsty" and "The Teachers are Afraid of the Students".
"Istanbul" is beautiful, poignant and picturesque. "Earth is the Loneliness Planet" is the "How Soon is Now?" for the world as one. "Staircase at the University" is scarily prevalent and recalls a similar incident of a foreign student suicide back in my college years because he was going to make a "C" in one of his classes and felt he had let his family honor down. "The Bullfighter Dies" succinctly makes his animal rights position in a catchy Spanish flavored tune. "Kiss Me A Lot" a song of infatuation and attraction, insert your own romantic ideal as Morrissey isn't revealing his paramour. "Smiler with Knife" is disturbing and foreboding. Like a Roman Polanski film there is a depth of hidden meaning and a revealing of a human nature most people would like to stay hidden. "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle" seems like the next chapter to "Girlfriend in a Coma". "Mountjoy"is the mopiest, gloomiest, depression inducing testament to hopelessness imaginable - it makes me smile. "Oboe Concerto" ends the official record with the sense that their are more people dead that he would have enjoyed the company of than living. I feel the same most of the time, and I played Oboe in High School which for no particularly good reason makes me enjoy this song more.
And the limited edition tracks...which unlike most "deluxe" albums which offer crap that you listen to once and then try to forget - these tracks are as golden! "Scandinavia" is a love/hate relationship with a region of Europe that makes for a great song that can be sung with no true idea of what it is about. "One of Our Own" harkens "First of the Gang to Die" "Drag the River" reminds me of "Suffer Little Children". "Forgive Someone" is yet another plea for understanding and acceptance which rings so true it scares. "Julie in the Weeds" is a sweet song. "Art-Hounds" contends as my favorite song on the record with it's apparent rant against critics and wannabees that don't have the courage to be artists.
I find no flaws in this record even where I might not fully embrace the content I accept the argument and know that if I ever had time to spend with the man it would make more interesting conversation than all the points we agree on.