20 November 2005
Morrissey has answered a series of questions submitted by Questions And Answers participants. These questions and Morrissey's answers are as follows.
Of all your songs, from both Smiths and solo material, which song are you most proud of lyrically?
Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
It's impossible to answer this because I'm proud of most of them. There are only a few that make me shudder – such as "Get Off The Stage," "Journalists Who Lie," "I Don't Owe You Anything".... But most of them, I think, somehow stand the test of time. Of course, some songs are better than others....
What qualities do you admire in a person?
Louise Stephens, 18
Clare, Suffolk, England
It would be easy to say such things as honesty or loyalty, and so on – but the fact is that if you like someone you'll forgive them of almost any kind of indiscretion. In truth, I'm drawn to people who aren't afraid and who question authority. It takes great courage, I think, to defend animals – and it takes great courage to speak your mind. Most people are petrified by public embarrassment – especially in America, which is why the police constantly shout at the public – this doesn't happen in any other country. Except Fiji.
What are your happiest moments and memories in the life of Morrissey over the last 15 years?
Why the last 15 years? Didn't I exist in 1989?
The happiest moments have been the birth of each album. Some people might think this is somewhat sad, and maybe it is, but it's the truth nonetheless. Meltdown was also a high spot for me, and selling out the MEN Arena so quickly.
Hello our dearest Morrissey,
I was at your concert in Paisley last year, and it was the greatest night of my life. Did you enjoy it?
We will salute you forever.
Amy Rodgers, 17
Yes, Paisley was a great night. We were warned that the place was "dog-rough" and that the people might give us some trouble – which, of course, only whetted our appetites. But it wasn't so – everyone was very good to us and the audience were just perfect.
Could you please name one artist from each of the previous five decades – the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s – who has had a lasting influence on you?
...probably not! Certainly nobody from the '80s or '90s has had a "lasting influence" on me. The royal three remain the same: The New York Dolls, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, with Nico standing firm as first reserve. Oh, and Olivia Newton-John.
John Lydon once said something along the lines of, "The Irish mean it, man." Those words come to mind when I listen to your music. To what extent do you think your Irishness colours how you express yourself as an artist?
Thank you so much for writing and singing!
Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland
Ireland has always been a very credible and very poetic place, with no one under any illusions about themselves – we all end up in the same bucket, etc. This manifests itself within me by the fact that I'd obviously like some success with what I do, but I'm also slightly embarrassed to be singled-out. Silly, isn't it.
Has being a vegetarian defined your life significantly?
Many thanks for taking the time to read the questions – I wait with bated breath!
Being vegetarian is a political gesture, so it can't fail to affect your life. By becoming vegetarian you are rejecting a dominant, macho, wife-beating, throat-slitting lifestyle. Vegetarians are also often disliked because they cause so many people to do what they'd rather not do: think. Also, vegetarians, by the nature of their existence, are telling flesh-eaters that what they, the carnivores, are doing, is wrong – and nobody likes to be told this. In a basic sense, I can't bring myself to sit at any table where flesh is served or eaten – unless, of course, it's human flesh.
What is the most important advice that you would give people to be happy?
Thanks for this opportunity.
I'm no expert when it comes to happiness – I don't honestly think it's possible.
Unfortunately, comfort and contentment become the maximum goal, and these are attainable. It's important, I think, not to allow others to pressurize you, and it's important not to be intimidated. Most humans are just silly, and 95% of our daily activities are a complete waste of time anyway – so there's a strong likelihood that human existence itself is somewhat silly. Look, for example, at British television – ghastly.
I think that Ennio Morricone is one of the great composers of our time. I regard the music to Once Upon A Time In America as a heartbreaking masterpiece. Is it true that Morricone has worked with you on your new album, and if so, how was it to meet Il Maestro and work with him?
With gratitude and tenderness,
Yes, the Maestro came into the studio with his orchestra and worked on a song called "Dear God Please Help Me" – which was very flattering because he'd turned so many multi-million selling pop acts down (I won't mention their names – U2, David Bowie, etc.), so I was delighted that he said yes to scruffy old me. In the event, he was very shy, and he was heavily surrounded and shielded, and there was no way that he and I would end up at the local pub playing darts. But – that's OK. Life's rich tapestry, and so on.
I am Belgian and a huge fan of yours since 1985. I have seen you in concert many times around the world (in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, France, Holland, Germany, etc.), as well as in Belgium.
Do you think that, in addition to the upcoming tour dates that you mentioned, you will play more concerts in Europe, such as in Belgium or France?
Thank you a lot for existing, and God bless you.
It isn't always a question of simply waking up and deciding where to play – there must at least be the possibility of a waiting audience – that certainly helps. There isn't much of a grasp on how popular I am in places like France or Belgium – no one ever seems to know anything, so only Paris is ever touched upon. Holland remains a complete mystery. Personally, I'd love to go to every major French city, but, Lyon apart, there are never any offers, and that's what it all comes down to. Otherwise I'd stand onstage in Bordeaux and sing to the bar staff – nobody else would be there. Except – at a stretch – you?
I am looking forward to hearing your work with Tony Visconti. At this time, is there more that you would like to share with your fans as to the overall sound of your new album?
Thanks for staying true to your fans and true to yourself.
Michael D. Fellows
New York, New York, U.S.A.
Firstly, the musicianship is outstanding. Secondly, the songs are very strong, which is a great thing to be able to say this far down the line. We were all very unified – everyone gets on very well, we are all very close friends, and everyone works for the common good, and there is never anyone pulling away – as there has been in the past. So, this all helped to make the album as good as it is – and we all know it is the best. It is not a continuation of You Are The Quarry, and it has no links to the past. Tony has been a very uplifting influence – has done a great job as producer and I'm honoured to have worked with him. Marco Martin, who engineered, also played such a big part in the overall sound, and we're all eternally thankful to him.
I'm a big admirer of yours, and I have been for many years. I find it very encouraging that you and many other folks I admire in the entertainment field are for animal rights. How did you first get involved with PETA?
I am looking forward to your next album, and I hope to see you back in New York on tour soon!
With love and respect,
New York, New York, U.S.A.
It began in 1985. The Smiths had played in Washington, D.C. and the concert was finished and I was...where else...in bed...and the phone rang...which was very unusual because there is always a block on my telephone. A voice introduced himself as Dan Mathews and he explained his mission was to build PETA to earth-shattering proportions...and he has! Twenty years on I am still in awe of Dan. Every single day of his life he is in a different corner of the world saving animals – none too big, none too small, none too far away – Dan is there, getting arrested, causing a flurry with the press, and his success stories are phenomenal. He has literally saved millions and millions of lives, and with PETA, his achievements are astonishing. He is the ideal American hero.
If American television shows that have musical guests – such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Late Show, etc. – asked you to make appearances in support of the new album, would you consider it? (If so, I would write letters to said shows requesting you.)
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Yes, of course. Try to stop me.
Does the title of the new album, Ringleader Of The Tormentors, have a particular personal significance to you, and if so, what would that be?
Thank you for inspiring me to finally commit to vegetarianism.
Gabriel Garcia Pablos, 15
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Yes, but if I tell you what it is I might put you off. Patience.
What do you love the most about living here and now?
Everything I love remains in my own somewhat private view of how I'd wish it all to be. I don't think much of life as a whole, and the world seems to be a complete and utter mess – thanks to people like Bush and Blair. I'm astonished that I'm still here – at 46, which seemed an unreachable age to me not so long ago. I am about to release a new album and many people seem to be very interested – which is a surprise considering how many times I've been publicly buried. But I'm still at the stage whereby I have absolutely no idea where I'll be in seven days' time. Face down in the gutter?