Morrissey, the lyricist

Ketamine Sun

HANG THEM HIGH VERONICA
Even subjectivity has its limit and it can be found somewhere in the general area of “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?”

Can you honestly say you will never ever like that song? We change as human beings, and one day you may find yourself turning up the volume and really enjoying that one! Never say never. :)
 

Verso

Well-Known Member
Can you honestly say you will never ever like that song? We change as human beings, and one day you may find yourself turning up the volume and really enjoying that one! Never say never. :)
You have my word that I’ll come back here and let you know if that’s the case.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Morrissey hasn't really written a good line in about fifteen years, but he had two decades of brilliance before that so I can't say I agree with your assertion.
Oh come on. There are great lines in You Were Good In Your Time, Smiler With Knife, Forgive Someone, Julie in the Weeds, Once I Saw... You're being too harsh, Verso!
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Can you honestly say you will never ever like that song? We change as human beings, and one day you may find yourself turning up the volume and really enjoying that one! Never say never. :)
To be fair, that is one horrible song. Almost as bad as World Peace.
 

Verso

Well-Known Member
Oh come on. There are great lines in You Were Good In Your Time, Smiler With Knife, Forgive Someone, Julie in the Weeds, Once I Saw... You're being too harsh, Verso!
Yeah yeah, it's possible. What are your favorite lines from those songs?
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Yeah yeah, it's possible. What are your favorite lines from those songs?
Fun question!

YWGIYT:
An end-of-the-ride sigh
your soft smile says:
"please understand, I must surrender."
Then you grip with your hand
now so small in mine
are you aware wherever you are
that you have just died?


SWK:
Time has frittered long and slow
All I am and was will go
But where to and why now?


FS:
Shorts and supports and faulty shower heads
At track and field we dreamt of our beds
In the bleachers you sit with your legs spread, smiling
"Here's one thing you'll never have"


JITW:
As long as there remains steel in my veins
They will not trouble you


OISTRC:
I walked with my grandmother
Down a windblown Chester Road
With her fifty-two new pence
For her twenty number-tens
And my forty-five pence too
Demand metal guru
Once with hearts securely stacked
Then we walked all the way back
---
or----
I walked with my grandmother
Cornbrook Street, where incomplete
She would never be again
A Dublin dancer, free and young
 

MrShoes

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
May I just interject and say that I loved reading this thread?!

Swaying between arguments of passion, prose, reason - always a good exchange.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Morrissey certainly deserves his reputation as a quality lyricist, but of course there have been bumps along the way.

The time when I was most concerned about his lyrics was probably back in 1995 as he had simply written far too few of them. Not only on Southpaw Grammar (obviously), but also on incredibly slight b-sides like Have-a-Go Merchant and You Must Please Remember.

Maladjusted had the title track and a few other bright moments, but I can't honestly say that it entirely eradicated any fears.

So while the releases since 2004 haven't been perfect, they have been much better than I expected them to be. Sometimes the balance hasn't been right (Low in High School was too focused on the political over the personal), but there have generally been plenty of strong lyrical ideas throughout.

Finally, if the lyrics hadn't been up to it then Morrissey's solo career couldn't have sustained for so long. From 1988 to 2021 I would guess that few people have listened to his solo stuff for the music.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Things have definitely been inconsistent in more recent years - some observations:

  • He's already written about his favourite subjects (mostly himself, how miserable his life has been, his failed love life, how he is the most lonely/amazing person on the planet etc) umpteen times before, so it's not too surprising that the well is starting to run dry on certain topics.
  • The period most people cite as his strongest lyrically (the Smiths days) was also the period he was most shamelessly stealing from his favourite books/films.
  • I think there was a deliberate scaling back of the lyrical side during times in his career. He complained after 'Kill Uncle' that reviewers were just reading the lyric sheet, and not even listening to the songs - suddenly we get stripped back lyrical content and no or minimal lyric sheets on both 'Your Arsenal' and 'Southpaw'. I think he was deliberately leaving space for the music on these albums.
  • I believe there was a further deliberate dumbing down once Morrissey realised a lot of his appeal was now coming from outside the UK, eg South America etc. This would account for some terrible lyrics such as 'World Peace is None of Your Business' etc. He now considers himself a world artist, not one whose primary audience is well educated in English, so a lot of previous lyrical subtlety has been removed. I mean - look at this drivel, which is so lazy from a so-called great lyricist, it's worth printing in full - even Johnny Marr writes better lyrics than this:
    Say daddy, who will protect us from the police?
    Say daddy, who will protect us from the police?
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Say daddy, who will protect us from the police?
    Say daddy, who will protect us from the police?
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Baby, God will
    Say daddy, there are flames high in the sky tonight
    The tanks on the street, attacking free speech
    We must pay for what we believe
    We must pay for what we believe
    We must pay for what we believe
    We must pay for what we believe
    We must be killed for what we believe

    Say daddy, I'm sorry, I just cannot believe you
    Say daddy, I'm sorry, I just cannot believe
    What should I do? What should I do?
    What should I do? What should I do?
    What should I do? What should I do?
    What should I do? What should I do?
    Baby please run
    You were right all along
    Baby please run
    Baby please run
    Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela

    :sick:
 

Ketamine Sun

HANG THEM HIGH VERONICA
.



Oh Mozzy! write like you’ve always
written or else! or else! :ahhh::swear
I’ll vent on solo, and still you’ll never hear me. :oops:


‘our souls, our souls, our souls’


;)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
He's inconsistent. When he's on form, the lyrics are amazing. When he's not, they're lazy or plain embarrassing. He once wrote that Kill Uncle happened because they were just "Recording for the sake of recording" and when it comes to lyrics, I think you can really tell when he's just going through the motions and not trying.
Yes indeed.
I vaguely recall an interview a few years ago where he said he was deliberately trying to be more direct lyrically. I think it coincided with him deciding to become more political, and to my mind that's partly led to a decline - his writing skills generally don't appear to lend themselves to that agenda. I may be suffering from woolgatherer's disease of course.,..
The old Moz has largely gone, I'm afraid - still capable, just not minded.
And good for him, incidentally. He owes us nothing.
 

Ketamine Sun

HANG THEM HIGH VERONICA
Yes indeed.
I vaguely recall an interview a few years ago where he said he was deliberately trying to be more direct lyrically. I think it coincided with him deciding to become more political, and to my mind that's partly led to a decline - his writing skills generally don't appear to lend themselves to that agenda. I may be suffering from woolgatherer's disease of course.,..
The old Moz has largely gone, I'm afraid - still capable, just not minded.
And good for him, incidentally. He owes us nothing.
.



He said something similar in regard to why he didn’t have the lyrics
printed in Your Arsenal because he wanted it to be more of a physical album, more of a visceral listening experience rather than a intellectual analytical one.
I think his lyric writing started to change around there and he really wanted to move away from the bookish image that he and the media created and trapped him in.
He wanted a change and has been changing ever since, human beings are strange that way, some refuse to stay put and stagnate. Even Bowie couldn’t go on being Ziggy forever.

:cool:
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
.



He said something similar in regard to why he didn’t have the lyrics
printed in Your Arsenal because he wanted it to be more of a physical album, more of a visceral listening experience rather than a intellectual analytical one.
I think his lyric writing started to change around there and he really wanted to move away from the bookish image that he and the media created and trapped him in.
He wanted a change and has been changing ever since, human beings are strange that way, some refuse to stay put and stagnate. Even Bowie couldn’t go on being Ziggy forever.

:cool:

I Am Not A Dog On A Chain seems to mark the beginning of yet another phase. A return to more inward-looking lyrics, less political themes, more concerned with his own past and present.
 

Ketamine Sun

HANG THEM HIGH VERONICA
I Am Not A Dog On A Chain seems to mark the beginning of yet another phase. A return to more inward-looking lyrics, less political themes, more concerned with his own past and present.

definitely a sense of him trying to find a balance. Drawing lines between the past and present in order to show why he feels the way he does now, especially on Once I Saw The River Clean.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Things have definitely been inconsistent in more recent years - some observations:

  • I think there was a deliberate scaling back of the lyrical side during times in his career. He complained after 'Kill Uncle' that reviewers were just reading the lyric sheet, and not even listening to the songs - suddenly we get stripped back lyrical content and no or minimal lyric sheets on both 'Your Arsenal' and 'Southpaw'. I think he was deliberately leaving space for the music on these albums.
He did indeed make that comment for the Your Arsenal release, but I have to say that I didn't believe it. I think the lack of a lyric sheet was probably much more down to not wanting to have to print the words to certain songs. The first couple of singles, for example.

And yes, there was a deliberate choice by him on Southpaw Grammar to include relatively few lyrics. But it was obviously a mistake and a worrying sign for any lyricist to go down that path. He has always used repetition for effect, and there's nothing wrong with that, but infinitely repeating "Dagenham Dagenham Dagenham Dave" or "No, no, no, no it's not gonna work out" was a very different thing.

Thankfully his time in the wilderness obviously taught him that he must try harder and that approach was ditched, along with the Maladjusted tactic of naming singles with bad puns.
 
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Anonymoos

Guest
Another tic I've noticed in recent years (which reached a nadir around the 'World Peace' time), was an increasing reliance on very obvious and blunt rhyming schemes. So you go from something more freeflowing like (picks random example):

"A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetry gates
Keats and Yeats are on your side
While Wilde is on mine"


and

"I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life
I crashed down on the crossbar
And the pain was enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect
And plan a mass murder
Who said I'd lied to her?"



to:

"Standing at the stone
Of one of our own
He took the plug
And he hit the rug
Such love shown
I've never known"


and

"When he first cried
His mother died
I had tried to be his guide"


and

"Drag the river
and within her
you may find a sliver
Of the one of whom you speak
and who they seek
She would gaze into the river
as we'd look into a mirror"


The first examples are much more interesting, with slant rhymes and end of line rhymes being echoed in the middle of other lines (eg Cemetry gates/Keates and Yates), whereas the latter examples are so rigid they sound like a child's first book of poetry.

Not all the later lyrics are as blunt and locked into end of line rhyming scheme as this, and you can still find some good stuff even on 'World Peace', but it did seem to be an increasing trend. More blunt, more obvious, better suited to non-English speakers.
 

Ketamine Sun

HANG THEM HIGH VERONICA
Another tic I've noticed in recent years (which reached a nadir around the 'World Peace' time), was an increasing reliance on very obvious and blunt rhyming schemes. So you go from something more freeflowing like (picks random example):

"A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetry gates
Keats and Yeats are on your side
While Wilde is on mine"


and

"I was delayed, I was way-laid
An emergency stop
I smelt the last ten seconds of life
I crashed down on the crossbar
And the pain was enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect
And plan a mass murder
Who said I'd lied to her?"



to:

"Standing at the stone
Of one of our own
He took the plug
And he hit the rug
Such love shown
I've never known"


and

"When he first cried
His mother died
I had tried to be his guide"


and

"Drag the river
and within her
you may find a sliver
Of the one of whom you speak
and who they seek
She would gaze into the river
as we'd look into a mirror"


The first examples are much more interesting, with slant rhymes and end of line rhymes being echoed in the middle of other lines (eg Cemetry gates/Keates and Yates), whereas the latter examples are so rigid they sound like a child's first book of poetry.

Not all the later lyrics are as blunt and locked into end of line rhyming scheme as this, and you can still find some good stuff even on 'World Peace', but it did seem to be an increasing trend. More blunt, more obvious, better suited to non-English speakers.

Thanks, it’s nice to see his changing style back to back. They’re all great, it’s subjective and ultimately
depends upon the listener and what their needs are at the moment.

Variety is the spice of life, and Morrissey gives us so much to choose from! We are lucky!


Viva Moz !!!


:thumb:
 
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Anonymoos

Guest
'I Am Not A Dog On A Chain' has seen some improvements, but these days I think Morrissey is a much better vocalist than he is a lyricist. That's where his real talents lie now - as a vocal performer, and composer of interesting vocal melody lines. In the early-mid Smiths days, the reverse was true - flat vocals, limited range ('Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' is mostly the same 3 notes repeated over and over), but killer lyrics. There was probably a golden period during the late Smiths years/early solo years when things were pretty much in equal balance.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Morrissey is a Stevie Smith fan & that blunt doggerel rhyme scheme is her signature.

For example:

20210202_005459.jpg


It expresses a heavy heart & extreme repression.
 
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