Blitz, April 1988
Paul Morley, Blitz, 1988
The first question, when we finally met, was supremely simple and obvious. As I very gracefully asked it, I felt a great deal of joy. If genius means a sense of inspiration or of rushes of ideas from apparently supernatural sources, or of inordinate and burning desire to accomplish any particular end, is it perilously near to the voices heard by the insane, to their delirious tendencies, to their monomanias? The answer was of course very satisfactory.
"Oh dear... Can't we discuss the resurgence of glam rock?"
I remember who and what you used to be. You were like the village idiot, the odd one out, the backward boy.
None of this should have happened, should it?
What did happen?
Whatever it was, it was a mistake.
A mistake for the funny, obsessive loner, Manchester's dreamy alien, to become such an expresser of the feeling of life, and the life of feeling. And so popular!
The sad obsessive loner... No, obviously it wasn't a mistake, as such. It might even have been fated. But it is difficult to describe how really insular I was. Especially when I was 21, 22, 23... I was entirely on my own. The very idea of me becoming what I have become was unthinkable. I found life unbearable at times. It's very hard when you don't really like people (chuckle). There should be a union formed to protect us... I was a very deep, to say the least, teenager...
What do you mean by "deep"?
You really know what deep means. You just want something to put in big bold letters at the top of the interview. Oh, deep, for me, meant not really accepting anything, whether it was the pop charts or the foundation of life. I think it meant that I was persistently troubled.
Didn't people tell you to snap out of it?
Yes, but that meant very little. I was a particular way, and that was that. I took trivial things very seriously, and perhaps I took serious things... very seriously as well.
So what did happen? How did you move from being the village idiot to being the gangleader?
I started to make records.
When we finally meet, Morrissey is as I've always wanted to imagine him - a silly blend of the fairly ordinary and the delightfully ostentatious. For somebody who confesses repeatedly to such chronic inner turmoil, he seems very calm, even in a way delighted with himself. "Well," he announces as we shake hands, "the last time we met we romped naked together at playschool..." He might be right. When we meet as adults, the second question that I am destined to ask is damned inevitable.
Is it natural to hate?
Some people are very funny. Some people are athletic. Some people are very hateful... It's whatever is in the blood.
I could not feel anything but vulgar admiration for Morrissey. His talent is sufficiently exquisite and perverse for me to consider him a truly great writer. I am not put off even when he is at his most contrived. If Patti Smith's Horses is my favourite album, then "This Charming Man" is my favourite single. It's not as if these records have stopped me from being a murderer, or anything like that, but somehow they have found time for me. Morrissey also makes me laugh, as if his life has been him acting out his own violent comedy, unusually amused by the very idea of human happiness. I am very moved by his transformation from utter loser to sly playboy of frustration.
He came out of a frightened world of small houses, small streets and small lives by turning inward. Patti Smith and T Rex turned his mind inside out. When the outside world branded him a freak as he slid dangerously on the surface of life, he created his own little worlds. Worlds of withdrawal that he invented so intensely they made up for him a special set of rules, regulations and dreams. Other people became simply voices through a cloud. He was with the people, yet far apart, acutely disappointed with the way they appeared to put up with their squalid predicament.
When he writes songs about his own inadequacy, about a mind under constant pressure from experience, songs that might comically diagnose the English tragedy, I can't help but see his point. He has fiercely resisted the tendency of the modern commercial world to treat people as objects, and, quite possibly by being raised in those streets at that particular time, a time chilled by helplessness, his writing has a sense of evil. Seedy, cheeky, and dignified, his songs have meant a lot to me. As you can see, Morrissey excites all that is sombre and nostalgic and anxious in me.
I am, though, pretty puzzled as to what anybody else sees in his work, so private does it seem to me, so easily interpreted as intolerably cheerless and hunted. At a time when popular music is Carol Decker's mini-skirt and a Pet Shop Boys bass line, the success and adulation of Morrissey, a writer committed to exposing human stupidity, who presents himself, cheaply at times, as being exhausted by life's struggles, is almost truly remarkable. It's as though the ghost of the 14-year-old scornfully locked into magical bedroom isolation, feasting in the imagination on the impossible glories of favourite stars, is haunting and mocking the paled, neglected system of pop. Smiling weakly amidst the chattering mastered machinery, the shattering profit motives, floating through the lawyers and accountants, playing at being a smash hit with the charisma of a petty thief, Morrissey as always is the odd man out, moaning directly into the fashions of the time, appearing idiotic and primitive and yet... popular music as the 14-year-old Morrissey wanted it to be, all the time, all the way. He has willed himself into being.
Apart from whatever else is involved, Morrissey is having a rather sinister last laugh on behalf of those he has loved, those that were spurned, ignored and killed. It's not nearly as drastic or as pompous as it seems. It's merely... interesting, to those who might still be interested, to those who always knew. Some people may find the pop charts comfortably, boldly all that they should ever be. For Morrissey, there must always be more. He hates the world so much, it's precious to him. And for Morrissey, the world was pop music.
Do you blame anyone or anything for you being alive?
Not at all. But I wouldn't want to inflict it on anyone else... I cannot understand having children. Even if the opportunity arose, I would definitely turn it down. No, I don't blame anyone for bringing me into the world, but I do feel that life is excessively overrated.
Why do you care so much about pop music?
The answer is probably simpler than we both imagine. If you keep yourself quite isolated within it, you tend to hit out against the music industry. If you make lots of friends and get invited to loads of parties, you might not want to think about all the thoughtlessness, you may well enjoy it all and you would tend not to be so over-judgemental. Even now I keep myself isolated, and so I hate what goes on.
What are you caring about?
I think we know why we care. I care because I have always loved passionately popular music. I think even as each day passes and popular music becomes more and more distasteful, its actual history becomes more and more important. I do not like to see it invaded, trampled upon... It meant so much to me.
Why, after Patti Smith, Television, Roxy, the Dolls, Joy Division, Eno, Byrne, Morrissey... is popular music in such a state? Something went wrong. No one agrees with us!
Yes, something went wrong. But, for me, it was totally important and it affected me physically and mentally. After hearing Horses I was never the same again, and I don't say that lightly. It is obviously not normal to think that this sort of music is the important music, the Velvet Underground, etcetera, but it was to me and that is all that can really matter, as such. It doesn't change my mind that people do not agree with me, on the whole. Something horrendous has happened. I can't really explain it except to say the obvious - it has been infiltrated by idiots. I do get annoyed because there isn't enough hate in pop, there isn't enough anger. If there are signs of intelligence, they get tired very quickly and give up the fight. They are not properly encouraged. I suppose popular music is now engineered by careless people who never had the imagination to spot or desire the true nature of pop and why it could be so special. The wrong people, as far as I'm concerned, are in control. Lawyers and accountants have become too important. The right stuff is not being encouraged, and the wrong stuff is not being suitably condemned.
Are you just hard to please, a natural critic of life and living?
I have always been intrigued by writers and singers and jounalists whose opinions and attitudes seemed to be unpopular but who attained a certain status precisely because of their displeasure with the world. I see nothing wrong with being hard to please. It has its own grace, it's the very least we should expect. I feel that the opinions of the hard to please people are the ones that really count. They are prepared for discovery and change.
Is idealism insanity?
Well, it's a matter of taste, that's for sure... I do believe that the quality of life will change because there are people who are very hard to please.
You care in a totally selfish way, or for a great benefit?
I always think it's a positive thing to be selfish. It's not negative at all, it's very useful. People who aren't selfish and don't look after themselves always look dreadful. I always thought that being selfish was the first step to maturity.
Do you think, seriously, that popular music is currently so abandoned and shallow because optimists, who have taken control, write badly?
Dully is actually the word, not badly. They possibly write quite well, but it is essentially repetitive and usual and dull. I think that when you notice the intensity of life you instantly become more... exciting. Whether that intensity is truly possible within popular music, well, one would think it is not. But I always thought that it could. And in the end, I do not understand people who are not as serious as me...
They probably don't want to get depressed.
Now we know this isn't true... They're just as likely to get depressed, and make other people depressed, but they won't admit to it. Being serious is for me the way it has to be. It comes very naturally to me. Making simple dance records was never the point. It would be for me totally futile. I have to make records that transcend the assumed importance of pop.
Is this a ridiculous conceit?
It might be. Another way of looking at it is to say that it's totally brave.
So you're saying that the resolution to do what you do is, under the circumstances, heroic?
Yes. Very heroic. Very solitary. People are always looking at me sideways and saying, "Well, do you really want to do that? Don't you really want to that ?... Are you really serious?" But also in a sense I do have the ability to laugh at myself, even though amongst the people who consider me overwrought this is also apparently sinful. I have always had to laugh at myself. If I hadn't found my social position when I was a teenager so amusing, I would have strangled myself. The fact I am doing it at all I find incredible.
What is it that you do?
I'm not bad with words.
Are you serious?
I think I see seriousness in everything. Even pop music. People say that it doesn't belong there, that it was never there at all... But there we are. Here I am. I think I must be quite unique!
What's so special?
You tell me.
My reasons might be too light-hearted.
I think I became interested in introducing a new language into pop using certain words that I felt would be totally revolutionary, and within The Smiths I thought I achieved that. I'm still quite proud that words like "coma", "shoplifter", "bigmouth", even "suedehead", are available in pop music. When one considers the realities of the charts, I think it's rare and extraordinary to find any new language at all... and perhaps I'm unique because people are so dull. So I stand out. I'm not very good at being dull. You know, all these questions and answers just seem to emphasise how strange I really am (chuckle).
Why did you like to feel strange?
I don't know whether I liked being strange in the way that you're implying... I felt strange because I was never impressed by the simple things that other people seem to enjoy.
So you fell in love with images.
It wasn't really my fault that images rather than people appealed to me. There were a lot of people about... I went to school and briefly to work, I did see people. I lived on a heavily populated council estate. There were people all around. But no one bothered to penetrate this great wall there was between us. Yes, I was selfish. But I was also, and remain so, the sort of person that not many people want to know. It's hard to believe!
You were forced to construct your own reality?
Yes. This took me a long time. But more importantly, I think that when someone is not at all popular, for whatever reasons, one tends to develop certain forms of survival. A survival which excludes friends, which excludes social activities. That in a sense is how I organised my life. If you cannot impress people simply by being part of the great fat human race, then you really do have to develop other skills. And if you don't impress people by the way you look, then you really do have to develop other skills. And if you are now going to ask is everything I did just a way to gain some form of attention, well that's not entirely true. It is in a small way, but that's in the very nature of being alive.
Wanting to be loved?
To be seen, above all else. I wanted to be noticed, and the way I lived and do live has a desperate neurosis about it because of that. All humans need a degree of attention. Some people get it at the right time, when they are 13 or 14, people get loved at the right stages. If this doesn't happen, if the love isn't there, you can quite easily just fade away. This could have happened to me easily. Several times I was close to... fading away. It doesn't give me great comfort to talk about it. I do not wish to relive those experiences. But I came close... In a sense I always felt that being troubled as a teenager was par for the course. I wasn't sure that I was dramatically unique. I knew other people who were at the time desperate and suicidal. They despised life and detested all other living people. In a way that made me feel a little bit secure. Because I thought, well, maybe I'm not so intense after all. Of course, I was. I despised practically everything about human life, which does limit one's weekend activities.
What else was there?
Nothing. Books. Television. Records. Overall, it's a vast wasteland.
Has the memory of those years been destroyed?
No, not at all. I remember it all in great detail, I seem to remember it every night and re-experience the embarrassment of it. It was horror. The entire school experience, a secondary modern in Stretford called St Mary's. The horror of it cannot be over-emphasised. Every single day was a human nightmare. In every single way that you could possibly want to imagine. Worse... the total hatred. The fear and anguish of waking up, of having to get dressed, having to walk down the road, having to walk into assembly, having to do those lessons... I'm sure most people at school are very depressed. I seemed to be more depressed than anyone else. I noticed it more.
Tell me, have you ever seen a psychiatrist?
Ha... not really... I have seen one or two psychiatrists. They just sit and nod and doodle. Perhaps if I was cured, so to speak, I would just walk blindly and amiably into every given situation, and I don't think that would be me, really. Maybe unhappiness keeps me going forward.
What annoys you most about yourself?
Practically everything. I miss not being able to stand up straight. I tend to slide into rooms and sit on the chair behind the door.
Is this all just gross self-pity?
No, not at all. There is the answer to that one. It isn't that simple.
So how, after all this, did the "great call" come?
The great call... that sounds very nice. In a sense, it was always there. But I felt by the time I reached 21, 22, 23, that it couldn't possibly be there. I couldn't see how it could be in pop music. I was paralysed for a start. I couldn't move. I couldn't imagine dancing, and I felt that movement was practically the whole point of the absurd ritual. I could just about imagine singing, but even then I didn't really know what to do with the microphone and the mike stand. But I had this strange mystical calling. There's no need to laugh! Once again, because I had such an intense view about taking one's life, I imagined that this must be my calling, suicide, nothing more spectacular or interesting. I felt that people who eventually took their own lives were not only aware that they would do so in the last hours or weeks or months of their life. They had always been aware of it. They had resigned themselves to suicide many years before they actually did it. In a sense I had, yes.
What stopped you?
I made records. I got the opportunity to make records, and miraculously it all worked.
So has being Morrissey saved your life?
It has been a blessing and a burden. It saved me and pushed me forward into a whole new set of problems.
Problems you seem to quite enjoy.
No I do not! Why do people insist that I scour the world and life searching wilfully for atrocities to punish myself with!
But you always seem to derive pleasure from anxiety.
It was always a very insular pleasure. It was always a matter of walking backwards into one's bedroom and finding the typewriter and perhaps hearing much more in pop music than was really there. The point is, I had always entertained the idea of making records and just as the door seemed to be closing and I was thinking less and less about it happening, I got the chance. Suddenly those avenues were open and I utilised them.
What did you think would happen?
I felt that it would be either totally embraced or universally despised. In a way, both things happened. I often think that people take me either insultingly lightly or uncomfortably, obsessively, neurotically seriously. I was obsessed with fame, and I couldn't see anyone in the past in film or music who resembled me. So it was quite different to see a niche of any sort. So when I started to make records, I thought, well, rather than adopt the usual poses I should just be as natural as I possibly could, which of course wasn't very natural at all. For me to be making records at all was entirely unnatural, so really that was the only way I could be. Unnatural. Which in a sense was my form of rebellion, because rebellion in itself had become quite tradition, certainly after punk. I didn't want to follow through those established forms of appearance and rebellion. And by the time I was making records, I was 23, an old, thoughtful 23, so I knew there were certain things that I wanted to do. I was very certain. And I do feel very underrated, by and large, considering what I have achieved.
You think you have done something constructive?
Yes, I bloody do! At least, under the circumstances. Ha ha ha... why am I laughing? This is very serious. I do think that I have achieved a great deal as a human being.
You're incredibly flattered.
People may fawn and be quite sympathetic, but that doesn't actually mean they understand. People rarely pat you on the back in the way that you really want. I sometimes feel that what I do might come and go without truly being noticed.
This seems pretty ungrateful.
Of course it does. It is very hard to complain when people approve of you... but I manage it. When certain people criticise me, I get the point. I can nod and smile when I'm attacked more than when I'm given wonderfully favourable reviews. It's not necessarily useful to a person that people are so keen to give you five star reviews, and who miss the point. There have been people in the past who cannot stand me whose views I find totally interesting. It's not very useful to have someone sat next to you nodding all the time... and you purposefully give them a foul idea, and they continue to nod, and you reverse their view of you back on them, and still they nod. But, yes, I think there is more credit due to me. I have done things that if most people had done them it would have narrowed their audience considerably. I have played against traditional audience sympathy. And it did inspire me when I first started that I couldn't think of anyone who was remotely like me.
When did it dawn on you it would work?
Instantly, really... because it did happen very quickly, even if we're just talking about the first few Smiths gigs. It was more than I expected. There were lots and lots of people ready to identify with what I was feeling. Hatred! Hating everything, but not being offensively hateful (chuckle). It was like hate from quite gentle people.
Was it easy?
Success is never easy. It could have gone hopelessly wrong for me. It never really gelled until the fourth single.
If it hadn't worked, would you be dead now?
I would certainly be in intensive care.
Do you feel the power of a group leader, at the head of these gentle, hateful people?
Yes, I do... I don't feel the need to go out and shake everyone's hands, and get everyone together, but I do know what you mean. I like to think that one can make records and be intensely successful, yet still remain essentially private. That would be very pleasant. Perhaps I do have influence. A lot of young people are very lonely and maybe hearing my records will make them feel less lonely. And there may be many people who are like I was, desperate, incapable, but needing so much to do something. I would like to think a record of mine will make them feel if he can do it, etcetera, then so can I.
That you only appeal to a rash of confused adolescents is just a dried up cliche?
Oh yes. It has expanded way beyond that. I was initially very confused when people wrote that my songs were adolescent. I was 24, 25, so they weren't adolescent, they were something totally new, something that had never been expressed before. It was not adolescent. It was not that easy.
What does your music do to your fans?
Well, they wear heavy overcoats and stare at broken lightbulbs. That's the way it's always been for me!
What's Morrissey on about today? When we finally meet, Morrissey is holding court in a suite at the lovely, grand Hyde Park Hotel. He is spending some time being interviewd to promote his new solo record, telling a whole zoo of journalists that the real truths are those that can be invented. Journalists sit before him, half in awe, half in dismay, trying to pin him down, pick him out, get him to admit that he's only human, that after all he's really involved like anyone else in the chase for money, disguising his greed with hysterical analysis. And he, with the patience of a saint of course, with a small sigh and a distressed chuckle, will anwer.
"Within the framework of pop there is actually room for great individualism. And by writing the songs that I do, I might be able to understand a little more about myself."
When we finally meet, there is a third question that I just have to ask. I'm not so graceful as I ask this one, and Morrissey sweetly watches me stutter, indulging me for what it's worth. Have you suffered for knowledge's sake?
"But once again, for me, it simply isn't knowledge as such. If it was I would be able to breeze through life smiling. I possess an inexplicable knowledge. In an academic sense I'm hopeless. I really am. I don't have any A-levels. It's a very perverted knowledge. A strange vision."
He pleasantly smiles as he realises that he is being asked to explain exactly what he means by "strange vision".
"Yes, it does have to be explained very carefully, but then I don't understand it myself. I can only explain it by saying that it is there through me being, through me writing, singing and making records."
And, of course, he is firm and emphatic whenever the journalist starts to worry about his painful preciousness, worry that maybe Morrissey just thinks too much.
"No, I am not being precious. And I don't think it's possible to think too much."
It's his world, and you can't really touch him. If anyone asks why, if he is so perpetually unhappy, he doesn't just kill himself, the answer is well rehearsed:
"Well, there are things to do... like writing the songs on Viva Hate."
Viva Hate is the first post-Smiths work. Only the pointlessly fussy will wonder if there might or might not be a difference between the group work and the solo songs. As with all Morrissey songs, there are ways to be involved, there is much to investigate. Somehow, it will probably even be controversial. I think it is a record that can easily be loved. Does Morrissey think it is a great work? He is ready to answer.
"It approaches it. I do have very clear sights of what I have to do to, as it were, live up to it all. I think Viva Hate is a lofty piece, but I'm still not inclined to beat the drum too much just yet. I've still yet to touch perfection... I'll know it when I do it, and I think it will be totally enchanting to affect other people's lives with a form of perfection. It will be like marriage!"
Morrissey certainly knows how to enjoy himself during an interview. "I often pass a mirror," he confides, loving the attention he's getting, "and I glance into it slightly, and I don't really recognise myself at all. You can look into a mirror and wonder - where have I seen that person before? And then you remember. It was at a neighbour's funeral, and it was the corpse."
The first single from the album has, the week we meet, entered the charts at Number 6, boosted by the big EMI backing. Morrissey now perches at the edge of melodramatic superstardom. We might as well take this sort of thing seriously. The next stage will be the most interesting - the final move from the cobblestones of hate to the stars above. Will he make it? The point, the pretence, of Morrissey will be challenged perhaps for the first time. Is he genuinely prepared? He will chuckle at the thought. It seems there is nothing that you can think of that he hasn't thought of already, nothing that he doesn't have an answer for.
What is Morrissey, spoilt, over-defensive, amused, on about today? As he consistenly nags and confidently explains, holding on to the real secrets, there is always the hint, just the hint, that he is sniggering all the while. Morrissey has been very carefully worked out, as if it was all planned in the bedroom.
So I suppose you're going to tell me that the phrase "life is extravagant" means nothing to you?
Yes. I always feel trapped by life. When I heard the title Stop The World, I Want To Get Off, I thought - perfect.
Where does the anguish and hate come from?
As with most things, I'm still trying to find out.
Why can you fall in love so easily with images, but not with people?
I'm still trying to find out.
What kind of difficulties do you have with people?
Let's talk about the window cleaner. I'm still in the position that when the window cleaner calls, I have to go in another room than the one he is cleaning. It's very silly. At the time I feel like a bespectacled six-year-old. I always find when the door bell rings that my automatic response is to hide or run away, to be quiet. They might want you to do something that you don't want to do, want you to go where you don't want to go. It's one of those trivial obsessive fears, like being on an airplane... which troubles me enormously. I always feel when I'm on a plane that I have to be racked by physical fear, and if I am I'll arrive safely. I feel if I relax, drink a whisky, converse, the plane will crash. I have to be in total turmoil or the plane won't make it. That's the way I am and always will be (chuckle). The terrifying thing is, as you get older, it doesn't get any easier. Fears just seem to cement into place.
Do you think that such troubles, and the nature of your sexuality, informs the ways and means of your songs?
What can you possibly mean?
There's a lot of guesswork concerning your sexuality, but it seems very important to your work.
People do try and join up the dots to come up with some kind of answer... There may well be no answer. I have to say, and this sounds rehearsed, I've always felt closer to transexuality than anything else.
What is your ideal sexual experience?
I don't have a vision of it at all. Why do people ask me questions like this?
Because you ask for it. You're the only person who can seriously be asked those questions.
Oh, come now.
Is there any sex in Morrissey?
None whatsoever. Which in itself is quite sexy.
What happened to the sex?
It was never there. Not thoroughly, so to speak...
Nothing! It goes back to being an incredibly unpopular person. No one asked.
Did you ever ask anybody?
Once or twice. Girls and boys. I sent notes... After a while I thought, that is it, that is the end of the notes. I don't want to go through that anymore. In a particular sense, I am a virgin. Well, in a very thorough sense, actually (chuckle).
Do you feel you have missed out?
I tend to think so, yes. But so be it. Perhaps if there had been sex, I wouldn't have written.
Have you had fantasies of fucking?
Yes. But they pass...
No sex. No love. What kind of cold person are you?
A horrible one, no doubt. The next answer will again appear in big black bold letters at the top of the interview. I've always felt above sex and love.
No,it's incredibly light, and you're being sarcastic anyway. In a way, I believe that all those things like love, sex, sharing a life with somebody, are actually quite vague. Being only with yourself can be much more intense. I personally have always felt trapped within the feeling of being constantly disappointed with people. In a way I do feel things that are conceivably better and more important than sexual situations. I mean, sex is presumably the final point one reaches, I don't know. It doesn't matter to me. All the emotions I need to express come from within me. They don't really come from other people. I seem to feel things far more intensely and precisely than people who express a rag-bag of emotions and survive, just, loads of relationships. I see all situations, even when I'm not involved and it's nothing to do with me, in a very dramatic way.
You're something of a drama queen?
If you like. That will do.
And incredibly fussy.
Does fame alarm you?
Yes. Sometimes I feel very famous. This week I have entered the charts at Number 6, and this is a great surprise. And I recognise that very few people have achieved monumental success on a global basis and remained fascinating.
Is this what you want?
Yes and no. In some ways I think to be hugely famous would be scary and meaningless. I saw hints of it when I was in America playing large venues. You feel the power of record companies just waiting to propel you into nonsense states of being.
With The Smiths, that was always a danger, the way the group was being set up as next in line after the Rolling Stones.
Yes, I know what you mean. All that rock thing did confuse me... It seemed a preparation for straightforward global success, and in a way I'm quite provincial.
In a way, quite small-minded.
No, that sounds cruel. It's just that the kind of global success that does seem to beckon I resist for the obvious reasons. I just haven't changed enough to accept it. I feel very accomplished with what has happened, in my own way.
How do you resist that particular pressure to succumb to the straightforward?
It's very hard. You get bored hearing yourself say the same old things time and time again. Hearing your voice say no, no, no... I got bored saying that. But I do think that I have been very much in control, all things considered.
At times, through being quite childish?
No. Through being protective. It would be very childish to say, well just push me along and wherever I land I'll sing. I have been very careful and very protective.
Is there any way that you consider you take real risks?
I am risking quite a lot. Fame is a risk. I won't be able to change with fame, the same things will always trouble me, and that will intensify by me making strong statements and desiring to be totally human within it all. In a way, you're meant to change with fame, you're meant to adjust. I can't, and I feel quite queasy about that. Being famous, you're not supposed to care about things like the urgency of life, you're not meant to expresss disappointment that people don't seem to understand the terrible briefness of life. I will not do the kind of things you're meant to do when you're famous. However hard I try, I can't be that obvious.
What's going to happen next?
It doesn't scare me. It confuses me. I can't imagine how I will live if I am not famous. I can't imagine how I would live if I had to start a normally constructed existence. If fame left me, I couldn't imagine living. But I wouldn't ungracefully cling to fame. If it slid away, so be it...
What would happen to you?
I haven't a clue. But I do not feel victimised by fame. I always felt that there was a reason for me to be famous, so to speak. I didn't think that my fame would be so superficial that as soon as somebody yawned it was all over. Somebody said that even if my records ceased to sell, I would always have a very high profile. I would like to trust that observation.
Do you ever feel that this whole Morrissey thing is quite silly?
Yes, probably, under a certain light. But then with a certain effort you can make anything in the world seem quite ridiculous.
Do you ever think that the problems of fame are fantasy problems that you tend to over-indulge in?
No, they're very real problems. Absolutely real.
So when the tabloids write nonsense, you're truly offended?
It does hurt me, because it isn't true. They compile fictitious quotes.
Don't you take it too personally?
What else can I do? It all makes me out to be a very silly and thoughtless person, and that annoys me, because I am not, and there are enough of them in the world. I'm not thoughtless at all, I think all the time.
But as long as you know you're not silly and thoughtless, then so what?
Well, I accept that... but people are reading it, people are thinking it might be true, and I don't like that. I don't get drunk and forget. I just wish that people would represent me as being more fascinating than I actually am instead of so much less. When these fictitious quotes appear, why can't they just be fabulous?
It's out of your control.
Yes, and I don't like that. It might ruin all my carefully prepared work!
Now that we've finally met, the last question is supremely simple and obvious. With what you have managed to control, all the odd little details, all the pained expressions, all the pieces of an unlikely glamour, are you flamboyantly setting yourself up for the grand, savage exit - writing yourself into a dramatic, doomed story that the young Morrissey would have totally relished?
I don't know what you could possibly mean! (Chuckle.)