As he himself sang on the track "Home Is A Question Mark" from 2017's Low In High School, "Home is a question mark/Home is some place I dunno..." and so where, exactly, does an icon like Morrissey belong, in a world which seemingly hungers for the mundane and punishes the brightest minds?
For an artist like Morrissey, it seems inconceivable to his fans that despite a four-decades-long career, with an endless string of classic hits and successions of successful Top 10 albums, he still has yet to find a label to work with on his upcoming record, Bonfire of Teenagers.
Taking to his website Morrissey Central last year, he confirmed that his then-current label, BMG, had decided to part ways with him—despite some of the most successful releases of his career under their watch.
Of course, fans do not doubt that Morrissey will release the album, and he will likely reach an agreement with a label, sooner or later. But the fact that this issue exists at all, however temporarily, is a wake-up call to both his legions of fans and the music industry itself, as we can all plainly see that Morrissey's solid talent and musicianship are being swept aside–as if irrelevant. Instead, he is almost being punished for not being the player the media wants. His life made harder because he isn't "easy" fast-food for the masses.
Morrissey was never going to backtrack, or deny himself his human right to express his ideas, thoughts and opinions in the name of pleasing the pen-scribbling journalists who delight in throwing his name to the mud at every opportunity. Therefore, it seems fair to argue that record labels are not too eager to support the iconic Mancunian, preferring instead to sink their funds into the simpler wastelands of what we today call "popular" music (popular of course, only in the sense that radios are paid to play certain tracks to their audiences, or pop puppets slotted into prime-time TV on boring Saturday night talent shows).
If talent is what truly mattered in the entertainment industry, Morrissey would have his pick of what record companies to work with, as his output is testament to the greatness of his musical ability and his profound connection to his audience. Instead, we have an artist not honoured, but rejected by men in suits who would rather search for easy money and the up-and-comers (soon to be the down-and-outers) rather than invest in an artist who has proven himself as one of the last true greats of the music world. All this because he is outspoken and truthful and provokes people.
When the time comes for Morrissey to sign on the dotted line and release Bonfire of Teenagers, his fans will be there. And yet again, against all odds (and without the help of promotional investment or radio play) it will punch into the top 5 UK album charts, as his releases always do. Because in reality, talent wins out. It always does. Great art outlives our mundane lives and narrow expectations.
Maybe it is somehow fitting for an artist like Morrissey to find himself in exile; he has never easily, or comfortably, fitted into the mould of the "traditional" pop star. He has always been frank, outspoken, witty, intelligent and unrelenting – but these are qualities only the open minded can admire, and who in 2021 appear to be a dying breed.
The music is all that really matters. Let's celebrate the fact that, despite the hardships that have come with it, Morrissey is as true to himself—and therefore his audience—as he has always been. How thankful we all are for that in these stifling, unimaginative times.
Here's to tomorrow.
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