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The unbearable lightness of being Morrissey
Ahead of his 50th birthday, Morrissey talks exclusively to Hot Press about the sexual nature of singing, letting go in the studio, being blacklisted by the UK's Radio One and how he approaches songwriting.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 03 Apr 2009
Again, the notion that entertainers must be eternally young and malleable.
I think the broadcaster Selena Scott was recently told by Channel 4 that she was “too old,” and she sued them and was awarded half a million pounds. You can’t say that someone is too old these days because it is blatant age discrimination. I could therefore sue Radio One for millions, especially in view of the fact that they play music by people who are older than me – McDonna, U2, REM, The Cure – so it’s absolute discrimination, and Radio One is also contractually committed to reflect public tastes and not to dictate public tastes. So, I attended a board meeting with Universal Records in London recently and I casually mentioned that I have grounds to sue Radio One for being both age-ist and possibly racist. Everyone laughed nervously and looked away. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt.
Did your early days of writing about music and film icons prepare you for utilising the mechanisms of press, or prove instructive in how to create the maximum impact? Few of us of a certain age will forget those early Sounds and NME covers in 1983.
Not really because I couldn’t look to anyone as a possible blueprint. I was too odd to be like anyone else. I didn’t want to be a rock star. I didn’t want to be a celebrity. I celebrated nothing and I felt that I was in possession of nothing. I simply sang. I didn’t match any other singer.
My life didn’t match any other life. I had to build everything up from scratch. Does that sound silly? It probably is.
Did you consciously create a persona that would be eminently photographable and quotable?
I’ve never been photographable, and I still look out of place. This is why I exacerbate. Jonathan Ross, who is a great friend, said to me recently that, “People quite seriously have doubts that you even exist as a person.”
I think this arises when people cannot pin you down. When you are well known, and your sex life is trotted out for global comment, then you are defined as ‘OK.’ I’m too confusing to be a Daily Mirror favourite… for which I give eternal thanks to God.