Questions answered

21 February 2006

Morrissey has answered a fourth series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.

What are the main changes, if any, that you have gone through since the Smiths up until the present time?
Graeme, Perth

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I now feel more inclined to stand up and look the world in the face. I find it shocking to look back at the period of The Smiths and to reflect upon the magnitude of doom that surrounded me every single day. I have no idea how I made it through my 20s. Grit? It was impossible for me to agree to any aspect of life or to compromise with it. I think I doomed myself. The terms of my connections with other people were dreadful, and I couldn't ever manage to feel responsible for my own life. I traveled a great deal and I didn't ever once feel any need or inclination to leave the hotel room. I don't feel quite this narrow anymore, so whatever has happened to shift these feelings has happened. When Johnny ended The Smiths I was forced to go solo, and I found myself going further with all my experiences of life, and, although Johnny didn't intend it to, it helped me.

In Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, a chapter called There Is a Light that... describes how one of the novel's characters relates to the song-as many of us do. How do you feel about being quoted by writers?
Mauricio, Cancun.

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It happens a great deal, and it's exciting because it means I've had some effect or influence, which is dazzling for me because I see myself permanently standing outside the stage door. There was a film some years ago called Mute Witness and I wondered if it had been so called after the song on Kill Uncle. I hoped so.

Who is your favorite author today?
Svetlana Belgrade.

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I like the American columnist Maureen Dowd - I think she's very funny, but then I read that she enjoyed eating chicken legs and .... well....that was the end of that romance. I don't read fiction. What's the point? The basic details of my own life are stranger than anything I ever come across in modern fiction. I tend to judge a book by its cover, and - ridiculously - with any book, I start at the final chapter and work my way to the first. This is probably a sickness.

My favorite song in 2004 was I'm Playing Easy to Get which you played on the Janice Long show. Is there any chance that this song will be recorded in the studio and released?
Roger, Cape Town.

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It was recorded, but not very well, so we hid it - although my experience is that nothing can ever be hidden - everything inches it's way onto the internet eventually. Someone, somewhere will spill it out.

Who do you admire vocally?
Katherine, Wakefield.

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I think Elvis Presley had a great voice, and Frank Sinatra - two obvious choices, perhaps. Neither ever sounded unsure.
It doesn't need to be said of course but most singers are absolutely dreadful.

Do you plan to make any videos for the new album?
Shelly. Knoxville.

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Yes, we've made three. It's never been my strong point... but then, what is? I throw in a basic idea but then leave it to others. I think my discomfort usually shows. I like "I Have Forgiven Jesus" and "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" - and "Glamorous Glue" is OK. I made a video years ago for the song "Our Frank" with the director James Maybury that was so awful that we tried to hide it. Of course, no such luck. There's always someone, somewhere ...

Which classical music period would you say you prefer, and who are your favorite composers from that period?
Merrilea, Toronto

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I'm no expert when it comes to classical music. My favorite is Chopin's Nocturnes.... Yes, I know, quite a common choice - a bit like naming the Beatles as your favorites. Anyway, there is a reasonably new CD by Angela Hewitt of this, which is well worth buying.

Does it dismay you that the intelligence you have expressed throughout your career has been interpreted by some as an excuse for cynicism and apathy, when you yourself are a figure far from apathetic?
Abigail, Sheffield.

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I always get a strong reaction, and my critics are very dedicated - they will stick with me till the end. I seem to infuriate so many people. Most groups get away with dreadful albums and appalling live concerts and it just doesn't seem to matter - because they don't. There is always a reason for a scathing review, and it's usually personal. If you refuse to be interviewed by a magazine they take the most ferocious revenge. Things are never what they seem. Also, if you are an artist whose career is quite persistently and attentively followed and documented then many writers will deliver unnaturally venomous articles or reviews simply with the hope of earning a special place in that artists' history. Praise is rarely shocking whereas maliciousness is, and the writers who burst the bubble are remembered forever, alas. For me personally, most album reviews tend to review me as a living entity - the actual songs or the singing or the musicianship is secondary compared to the writer's personal feelings towards .......my face. And, of course, my face rarely goes down well...

Amigo, when you came to Mexico, it was a dream come true. How do you feel about making so many people happy when they hear your music or see you live?
Gregorio, Tampico.

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It's baffling when, by your presence, you make people happy, especially when, for the most part, you feel like a big lump on a log. But, Mexico was a dream come true for me. We're having difficulties getting back - no local promoter is willing to take the plunge. Otherwise, we'd be there tomorrow. But even if I never get back, it was a great experience. Oh, and I'd like to say thanks to all the bootleggers outside selling posters of Elvis Presley with the name Morrissey across the poster... the highlight of my life..

I went to your two concerts in São Paulo, they were awesome. What remembrances do you have of your five concerts in Brazil?
Childerico, Rio de Janeiro.

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I'm sorry I didn't go there sooner, but I lived under the whip of oppression. We were all shocked by the welcome - the size of the audiences and their response. I wanted to spend more time on the beach in Rio but I was nervous of the ten-year olds who were mugging tourists at knifepoint.

Is there anywhere in the world where you would love to perform music, where you have not already performed?
Dennis, Manchester.

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Turkey, Israel, Burnley, Russia.

What, according to you, is the most remarkable event in human history?
Thomas, Bruges.

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Penicillin? Anesthetic? The drainage system? False teeth?

What is, in your opinion, the most important cause to be dedicated to?
Valerie, Paris.

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I think it's important to lead a good life, and to try not to hurt anyone - or anything. This is difficult because we live in a world where violence seems to be the answer to everything. The courts, the police, tax officials, governments - they all rely upon the threat of violence to get their way.
It's a crude world and most people are crude. All you can do is your best.

Who would you most like to see touched, affected, or even changed by your music and lyrics?
Robert, Parsley.

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I am often approached by people who are so completely out of character from the clichéd impression of a Morrissey or Smiths listener, and that always astounds me. I think my appeal is wide, but I'm always told by the print media that it is narrow - and of course, they should know, and I shouldn't.
The audience I am trying to reach are champion figure skaters. I think they need me the most.

How do you go about choosing songs for your forthcoming tour?
Simon, Durham.

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I usually pick the songs that I'm sure people would least like to hear. And I'm never wrong. If I don't give people something to complain about then I've failed.

February/2006.