British music legend Morrissey was dropped from his record label BMG on Monday in a move that no fan of the crooner’s could find the least bit surprising. Long the target of vague claims of -isms, the Mancunian former Smiths front man was dispatched apparently to open up lanes for greater “diversity.”
Morrissey’s response was, well it was very Morrissey: “This news is perfectly in keeping with the relentless galvanic horror of 2020.”
The horror that Morrissey refers to here is surely not any loss of income or prestige, as he needs neither from BMG after four decades as a cultural icon. Rather, it is a horror for our culture itself. His sin, to put it in his own words, is that he will not change and he will not be nice. Thank God. Quite frankly, there clearly is no room for the last truly British, interesting, talented, and fearless man in Anglo pop music among the Mr. Shanklys of the staid and tired corporate entertainment media.
Morrissey’s greatest sin, in the eyes of his detractors, is not anything about Brexit, which he sympathized with, nor nationalism, which he has written about for decades, nor racism, allegations of which all are rather silly. It is and always has been his unabashed love of British and Western culture. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, World War I, the breadth and depth of English lore and letters are his pallet, and he will not apologize about it. He will not shy away from saying his culture, one he helped to shape, is becoming unrecognizable in the age of cancellations and political correctness.
Part of Morrissey’s devotion to things British and Western stems from his upbringing. Not coddled, but working class, the antiheroes of his songs so very often try to cling their way up a social ladder that has rungs missing. His oeuvre is the individual, that very term, that very concept, is now accused of being steeped in white supremacy, but don’t tell that to Morrissey’s legion of Mexican fans. Not unlike Donald Trump, white progressives cannot understand the appeal of Moz because he is so foreign to them, a kid from the ugly houses who only ever says what he really thinks.
In the end it is this honesty that makes Morrissey not only a favorite of his most dedicated fans, but also the one absolutely indispensable voice of a Generation X that is tired of everyone else’s nonsense. This past week, in what now looks like a stinging slap in the face of BMG, a re-mastered video of the Master of Mope performing “T. Rex” by Cosmic Dancer with the late David Bowie dropped online.
The message to BMG seems clear. These people are absolute legends, and if the record industry prefers a Benetton ad of teenyboppers, then so be it.
Morrissey’s last three efforts with BMG were all hit albums, critically praised and loved by his fan base, one which even at his age only grows. When Morrissey tours it is not a nostalgia of shoegaze show, it is a vital artist still singing his life and touching those of others with powerful and new work. That is not going to change.
Wherever Morrissey lands, whether with a new label or on a new kind of venture, his work will be embraced, adored, and loved by his fans, because they know that as always, it is honest, forthright, and unafraid.
One can only laugh at an attempt to cancel Morrissey; he is after all the bard of the cancelled, the rejected, the people who refuse to keep their mouths shut. That isn’t going to change. But whatever comes next for him, today is a good day to celebrate his catalogue and be grateful for all he has given us.