And so, 7 years on, and the man himself returns. What he returns with is curious: commentary on the political/social status of the UK; our national identity, national pride (or lack of it) and the relationship between modern day politics and the politics of the 17th Century. Nothing curious about that, you might think (and you’d be right), Moz has been treating us to his staunch views on this stuff since “Still Ill”, from the first Smiths record.
What I find most bizarre is Morrissey’s Englishness. Here he is, passing comment on a country he hasn’t lived in for years: Arthur Scargill representing the hopeless miners of Barnsley from his Communist mansion in the sky, trading his C&A suit for one bought with the money of his supporters - you have to look like the big boys before you can talk to them, you know.
I guess it’s admirable, and typically quirky of Morrissey, to have maintained that same well-pronounced accent, the one he stole from the landed gentry and took all the way back to Ancoates all those years ago. You’d think he’d have developed that LA twang (Robbie Williams is slowly getting his, and I’m sure Tim Burgess will follow), but no, Morrissey retains at least some Englishness and as such this is his cultural passport, the one that gains him access to recording studios to make records like this.
And quite a record it is. Sure, spitting in the face of Oliver Cromwell, denouncing Labour and Conservative alike and urging people to reclaim the Union Flag is all in a day’s work for our Steve, but never before with this much vigour. Sounding dangerously hard-rock, for a stocky, greying man in his 40s, he’s certainly saying something.
To me his refusal to accept England’s two major political parties strikes a note, and maybe this really is the “time” that Morrissey swears he’s been dreaming about - maybe we will abandon them. Having just turned 18 myself, I sure as hell don’t know who I support, I don’t trust that Blair’s even healthy enough to do his job anymore, and I certainly don’t trust Michael For-The-Fourteenth-Time-Please-Answer-The-Question-Mr-Howard Howard.
Has Morrissey chosen to say all this, at this time, for my benefit? Almost certainly not. But he always had a habit of saying what other people were thinking, didn’t he? He was never a voice for everyone, speaking on everybody’s behalf, sure, but I think “Irish Blood, English Heart” and the album that follows could well restore him back to his former glory. Ad if it does, I’d like to be there to congratulate him.
Welcome back, Spokesman for the Disaffected.