Nick Cave Saves The Smiths

As a life-long Morrissey fan, I can’t believe I’m about to type what I’m about to type: Morrissey sucks.

In the last couple of years, he’s gone from that harmless uncle who gets drunk and says a few dubious things at Christmas, to a full-blown fascist.

If you’re just tuning in, Morrissey has criticized immigration, called Halal meat ‘evil’ (to be fair, he’s a staunch vegetarian and believes all meat is evil), wondered if the Chinese are a ‘subspecies,’ combated racist allegations by saying, ‘everyone prefers their own race,’ and, worst of all, declared his support of the far-right Islamophobic political party For Britain.

Steven Patrick Morrissey established himself as a black-belt shit-stirrer the first time he saw a microphone, and we, his fans, loved him for it. We knew he was just having a laugh, outwitting the media and winding people up. But his recent alignment with For Britain—a small but dangerous far-right political party made up of unabashedly racist bastards—isn’t a joke, and has his fanbase completely baffled. How could the man who wrote ‘it’s easy to laugh/it’s easy to hate/it takes guts to be gentle and kind’ suddenly be such a dick? And more importantly, is it possible to separate the latter-day artist from his earlier art? Can I still enjoy The Smiths?

This question was posed to Nick Cave on his Dear Abby website, The Red Right Hand Files. Cave’s answer was, of course, brilliant. Here’s a portion:

…I still believe that despite how upsetting Morrissey’s views may be to the marginalised and dispossessed members of society, or anyone else for that matter, he still should have the freedom to express his views, just as others should have the freedom to challenge them – even if just to know in what guise their enemy may appear. The charge that defending a person’s right to their opinions somehow aligns one with their views makes no sense at all and strikes at the heart of the problem itself – that of conflating the concept of free speech with bigotry. This is very dangerous territory indeed.

 As a songwriter and someone who believes songs possess extraordinary healing power, I am saddened by the thought that songs by arguably the greatest lyricist of his generation – songs like ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Reel Around the Fountain’ and ‘Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me’ – are consigned to the moral dustbin by those who feel they have been tainted by his current political posturing. I respect and understand why people respond in this way, but can’t help but feel it is of significant personal loss to them.

 Perhaps it is better to simply let Morrissey have his views, challenge them when and wherever possible, but allow his music to live on, bearing in mind we are all conflicted individuals – messy, flawed and prone to lunacies. We should thank God that there are some among us that create works of beauty beyond anything most of us can barely imagine, even as some of those same people fall prey to regressive and dangerous belief systems.

Agreed. Still, I won’t be listening to any new Moz albums. They started to suck after Years of Refusal (2009) anyway.

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