From 1983 to 1987, there was a band of very nice if somewhat tempermental lads from Manchester known as The Smiths. Although their lineup was conventional — a front man, a guitarist, a drummer and a bass guitar, they were unconventional in most other ways, with their odd chord patterns (the closest thing to a standard rock song being Bigmouth Strikes Again, whose chords are reminiscent of All Along the Watchtower), odder lyrics and even odder front man and throat, one Steven Patrick Morrissey. Morrissey (on the album credits, he went by only his surname), also affectioantely known as Moz, was your classic tortured soul: angsty, lonely, depressed and mopey. Exactly the kind of personality that many a teenager — especially pasty, gloomy Brit kids writing poetry in a tiny bedsit in something-on-another, UK, could really appreciate.
Prior to his stint with The Smiths, Moz had a pen pal named Robert Mackie. Mackie collected this correspondence and made them available to anyone who would cover the cost of the photocopying them. Someone’s taken some of these letters and put their text on a Web page — complete with Moz’s spelling and punctuation — here.
A long time ago, Spin magazine ran an interview with Morrissey, after which someone wrote a letter to the editor saying that Morrissey should get over himself, and that what the perpetually glum vegetarian needed was “a cheeseburger and a fuck.” After reading these bits of correspondence, I’m inclined to agree.
Some choice excerpts:
So nice to know there’s another soul out there, even if it is in Glasgow. Does being Scottish bother you? Manchester is a lovely place, if you happen to be a bedridden deaf mute. I’m unhappy, hope you’re unhappy too.
Do you really like Kate Bush? I’m not surprised. The nicest thing I could say about her is that she’s unbearable. That voice! Such trash!
…thank you for your photo. It came in handy until the plumber arrived. Did you know you had a dead caterpillar on your lip? Real deco, man. You could have smiled but it’s dreadfully unfashionable, isn’t it? Observe the enclosed piccy of your author, disguised as an artiste. This photograph is suitable for framing. Incidentally your real name IS Robert, isn’t it? Everyone in Scotland is either Robert or Billy or Jimmae. Have you got a real Scottish accent? How novel! Why don’t you join a traveling circus?
I’m sure there are worse groups than Duran Duran, but I’ll be damned if I can think of any.
I’m glad your body is still untouched by human hands, at least it gives you something to look forward to, besides Christmas.
He hated Duran Duran? Blasphemy!
The Reflex. Lyrics to the greatest song about self-gratification ever written. Even better than the Divinyls’ I Touch Myself.
Is Your Son a Computer Hacker? Is he obsessed with “Lunix”? Every parent should know about this.
Lawrence Lessig’s new book, The Future of Ideas. I may have to get a copy of this.
One cartoonist’s take on Segway, a.k.a. Ginger, a.k.a. It, a.k.a. Dean Kamen’s new invention.