Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series
Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Manchester on May 22nd 1959.
Singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Smiths (1982-1987), Morrissey has been a solo artist for twenty-six years, during which time he has had three number 1 albums in England in three different decades.
Achieving twelve Top 10 albums (plus nine with the Smiths), his songs have been recorded by David Bowie, Nancy Sinatra, Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, Thelma Houston, My Chemical Romance and Christy Moore, amongst others.
An animal protectionist, in 2006 Morrissey was voted the second greatest living British icon by viewers of the BBC, losing out to Sir David Attenborough.
In 2007 Morrissey was voted the greatest northern male, past or present, in a nationwide newspaper poll.
In 2012, Morrissey was awarded the Keys to the City of Tel-Aviv.
It has been said 'Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime.' Autobiography covers Morrissey's life from his birth until the present day.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 480 pages, illustrations (black and white)
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 17/10/2013
- Category: Rock & Pop music
- ISBN: 9780141394817
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by gaskella
After reading the first paragraphs of Morrissey's autobiography I questioned whether I could stand to read a whole 457 pages of his purple prose. Well, reader - I finished it. Contrary to my expectations, I enjoyed a good amount of it too, but, if ever there was a book to which the term 'curate's egg' could apply - this is it! Famously unedited, it is at least one hundred pages too long. This is primarily because, (as I at once surmised), he uses double the amount of words that he needs to. Then on p5, comes this one-liner "Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big, ... " I couldn't help but guffaw, however it's not all like that.Morrissey is famous for being vegetarian; later walking out of many restaurant meetings when someone at his table orders meat. This was even so in his childhood, and his description of school dinners could turn you off most food for life. "Putrid smells reduce me to a pitiful pile, and none are more vomitarian than school dinners. All foods of miasmic fragrance disturb me, and the mere hint of garlic induces the shakes, as fish cooked or uncooked causes gut-wrenching panic. This boy of 1971 has an abnormally limited palate - a working-class host of relentless toast, and the inability to expand beyond the spartan."What was nice was that although he hated school, outside, he developed a love for poetry, starting off with the wit of Hillaire Belloc, and Wilde, then Dorothy Parker before moving on to Stevie Smith, WH Auden, Herrick and Housman.It is page 141 before he meets Johnny Marr, shortly after discovering he has "a chest voice of light baritone," and an initial flirtation with performing in public as The Nosebleeds (not a band name of his choosing). He and Marr hit it off, and the rest, as they say is history. The years with The Smiths, before it all fell to pieces are fascinating. Like all tyro bands faced with their first record contract, they gaily sign. They have hit records but never reach the number one spot, something that really irks Morrissey. All the way through his memoir, whether with The Smiths or solo, he is obsessed with chart positions, seeing the inability to get a single to the top spot as a failure of the record company. It is hard to see how a song called 'Shoplifters of the world unite' could have got the airplay he thinks it deserves. The albums chart higher though, and live audiences bear out their popularity, but you sense he is really aggrieved at never having had a No 1 single.On p175, he talks about why he calls himself Morrissey..."My own name has now become synonymous with the word 'miserable' in the press, so Johhny putters with 'misery' and playfully arrives at 'misery mozzery', which truncates to Moz, and I am classified ever after. I had originally decided to use only my surname because I couldn't think of anyone else in the music that had done so - although, or course, many had been known by just one name, but it hadn't been their surname. Only classical composers were known by just their surnames, and that suited my mudlark temperament quite nicely."Comparing himself to a classical composer - he's having a laugh, isn't he?Where I got bogged down with this memoir was the section post-Smiths when Morrissey was sued by the Smiths' bassist and drummer, whom Morrissey insists had been signed on for 10% (himself and Marr as the songwriters getting 40% each), asking for their full 25% - years after the event. Morrissey is full of vitriol at them, and as it goes on and on for about fifty pages, I got more and more bored. Things get a little more interesting again when Morrissey moves to LA, meets various celebs and has strange conversations. He also has relationships which are still kept very private. They get boring again when he goes on tour - and we get night after night of a new city and audience sizes.So - a mixed bag of too much information, too little information. Occasions of too much purple prose - "even though his expressionist jargon often swamped logic in far too much existentialism" - I can't even begin to assimilate that phrase. I have no idea of the veracity of his writing - Stuart Maconie and Julie Burchill give different accounts of meetings for instance, but it is his own (narcissistic) account. Morrissey shouldn't have been allowed to become the first living author to be published in Penguin Classics - but it was a great marketing coup.To sum it up, when talking about family, friends, poetry, The Smiths' creative peak, Morrissey was happy - and I was happy reading about it too; when whining about record companies, court cases, the NME, never getting to no 1, endless gigs, being a Misery Moz - I thought 'Heaven knows I'm miserable now'. (7/10) (A fuller review will be on my blog on Nov 3).
Review by edwinbcn
Early on in his Autobiography Steven Patrick Morrissey explains why the book is published under the single name Morrissey, and why as a musician, he prefers to be known as Morrissey. It is because Beethoven is simply known as Beethoven. Thus, as we may recognize Beethoven Fifth Symphony by its opening bars, this statement heralds the arrogance and nacissim that readers may expect in this Autobiography.Penguin Books is as much implicated, for how can a book be included in the Penguin Classics Series upon first publication? Absolutely nothing merits the book's inclusion in this series, but as one may suppose the decision is not based on merit but on money.Autobiography by Steven Patrick Morrissey is pompous in every way. It is a volume bloated to a fist-thick volume, quite clearly by the large print. While the opening chapters display a laboured and somewhat elaborate prose style, including samples of poetry and references to literature and art, the largest part of the book consists of hum-drum everyday businesses that are down to earth and boring. The book is about the author's music career, but by the end of 600 pages, the reader knows nothing about the personal life of the author. Neither his single or unmarried status are explained, nor personal or sexual relations are described. There is a peculiar description in the mid-section of the book in which, however unlikely, the author sees a half-naked man from the windows of their car, and they assume that this person is the victim of rape. The story seems contrived, and its purpose is not clear.Insincere, narcissistic and boring. Probably too thick for fans to read, a mockery to lovers of literature.