The Simpsons’ latest exploits have brought modern-day Morrissey back to the forefront of everyone’s minds — yet again. In recent years, being a Morrissey fan has made most of us become masters at separating the art from the artist, a skill that is strengthened with every ignorant comment that he utters.
Over the last few years, he’s called Chinese people ‘sub-human’ and shown his support for the scarily far-right leaning For Britain movement. Selfishly, it’s more comforting to forget about modern-day Morrissey and remember the one that we all first in love with when he was in The Smiths. His current antics are the kind of shenanigans that likely would have repulsed Morrissey’s first incarnation. That Morrisey provided a refuge for the weak and lonely, capturing the hearts of outsiders everywhere with his welcoming lyrics of affected alienation.
It’s much more enjoyable to reminisce upon a time when Morrissey wasn’t a figure that made you feel shame when you find yourself bursting out a rendition of ‘This Charming Man’. We are taking a trip back to when Morrissey was a voice for the voiceless with The Smiths, and his opinion was one that you’d run across hills to hear.
Morrissey was the ultimate cultural connoisseur in the ’80s. His image gave his opinion a validity that separated him from the rat pack as an intellectual in a rock star guise. His list of favourite songs goes further to prove that point and is quintessentially Morrissey.
When The Smiths first arrived on the British indie scene, they had a lead singer who was as charismatic as he was antagonistic — a winning combination. It meant, on TV or in magazines, Morrissey was more than happy to offer his opinion on bands and singers, usually providing a hefty soundbite capable of starting feuds and finishing careers.
Nobody is immune from Morrissey’s wrath; while some of his insults are entertaining, others are just downright cruel. However, here we are taking a look at him being kind, which makes a refreshing change and offers an insight into the music that helped shape him as an artist.
For NME’s ‘Portrait Of An Artist’ column in the ’80s, Morrissey dived into his record collection and revealed the ten songs that occupied the most precious place in his heart.
There are a couple of surprises in there, such as then-future Blind Date presenter Cilla Black who bizarrely made her way onto The Smiths singer’s list with her track, ‘The Right One Is Left’. 1960s pop-princess Sandie Shaw is another left-field omission with her hit single, ‘Stop Before You Start’, but perhaps her unique sensibilities appealed to Moz.
One face that won’t come as a shock to any hardcore Morrissey fans is Billy Fury’s ‘I’ll Never Quite Get Over You’. The Smiths frontman has eulogised about his love of all things Fury on many occasions over the years, and it’s safe to say he made an immeasurable impact on Morrissey’s life.
Speaking to the BBC in 1984, Morrissey said: “I was exposed to him at a very early age, and everything I heard, I liked. He had a tremendous sense of style, and I think those reasons are good enough, really. The record has never left me, and as I’ve got older, as many records tend to.
“I’m still quite dedicated, and with his death quite recently, it made me think even more so about how valuable he really was, and I feel quite sad that he’s died and there’s been no real recognition of the input he put into popular music in this country,” Morrissey added from the heart.
Check out the full list and playlist, below.
Morrissey’s favourite songs:
- Sandie Shaw – ‘Stop Before You Start’
- Cilla Black – ‘The Right One Is Left’
- Rita Pavone – ‘Heart’
- Timi Yuro – ‘Insult To Injury’
- The Marvelettes – ‘Paper Boy’
- Nancy Sinatra – ‘How Does That Grab You, Darlin?’
- The Tams – ‘Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy’
- Billy Fury – ‘I’ll Never Quite Get Over You’
- The Cookies – ‘I Want A Boy For My Birthday’