9 Highlights From Morrissey’s Autobiography


I read Morrissey’s autobiography so you don’t have to.

1. “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed”

His mother nearly died when he was born, because, writes Morrissey, “my head is too big.” He writes that he spent “months” in critical condition at Salford’s Pendlebury Hospital and that his parents were told that he likely wouldn’t survive.

1. “Because of My Poor Education”

Morrissey blasts his working-class education (a PE teacher molested him), credits music and television with helping him escape his Dickensian-like upbringing, and touts what he learned by devouring the poetry of Edward Lear, Hilaire Bellow, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Steve Smith, W.H. Auden and John Betjeman.

3. “Sing Your Life”

During the late 1960s, Morrissey worshipped the Love Affair, the Foundations, and the Small Face but it is the sparkly arrival of David Bowie in 1972, featured prominently on the ITV pop show “Lift Off With Ayshea,” that Morrissey realized that “only in British pop music [could anything happen].” He writes that, at the time, and likely still, he thought that “all human activity is fruitless when pitted against the girls and boys singing on pop television, for they have found the answer as the rest of us search for the question. I will sing, too. If not, I will have to die.”

4. “I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty”

After years of playing coy about his sexuality, the “asexual” Morrissey describes his two-year relationship with photographer Jake Walters, which began in 1994. “For the first time in my life the eternal ‘I’ becomes ‘we,’ as, finally, I can get on with someone,” he writes. However, Morrissey stops short of labeling himself gay. Instead, after his book’s publication, Morrissey denied being gay. “In technical fact,” he said in a statement, “I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans.” Just not many of them, he added.

5. “Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference”

Morrissey wasn’t as enamored with the The Smiths’ song “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” suggesting to band mate Johnny Marr that they leave it off the album The Queen is Dead. Morrissey writes that “it is often a relief to be wrong,” since the song became – and remains – one of the most popular songs by The Smiths.

6. “We Hate When Our Friends Become Successful”

Morrissey claims that the creative team behind the sitcom Friends invited him to perform with Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) at the show’s fictional café, Central Perk.

7. “I Know Very Well How I Got My Name”

Morrissey knows why you don’t like him and doesn’t care. “Whenever I’d overhear how people found me to be ‘a bit much’ (which is the gentle way of saying the word ‘unbearable’), I understood why. To myself I would say: Well, yes of course I’m a bit much—if I weren’t, I would not be lit up by so many lights.”

8. “Something is Squeezing My Skull”

He devotes less than 20 percent of the book’s sprawling 457 pages to his time with The Smiths, complaining about their record label and how the group’s singles allegedly underperformed. Morrissey is less forthcoming about the band’s eventual dissolution, though he lays some of the blame at Marr becoming envious of Morrissey’s rising star.

9. “I’m the End of the Family Line”

Morrissey thinks little of children, describing how he and his friend Tina Dehghani talked about having a baby – what Morrissey called a “miniature mewling monster” – together.