Today, Steven Patrick Morrissey turns 58 years old. So, to celebrate the anniversary of his birth, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most memorable quotes that the singer has given in interviews over the years.
Since the days of The Smiths, Morrissey has always been an outspoken and often controversial figure. But he is also a man full of insight, wit and wry observations, whether talking about popular music, his own life, or grander mediations on life and death.
On what drove him to become a singer:
“Well, I think when I was a child, more than anything else I wanted not to be ordinary. And I wanted to be considered to be a bit peculiar. When I was at school I wanted to be peculiar and I was delighted when I was at secondary school and I was actually thought to be peculiar (laughs). It was fantastically good for me because I looked around me and I thought, 'Well, however you are I don't want to be like you, so if you think I'm unbalanced then I'm delighted.' That really stayed with me.”
(Interview with Alex Needham, NME, April 2017)
On American Idol-style reality television:
“Obviously, it's designed by record company executives who want a cheap success, and they don't want to give money to anybody and they don't want to give contracts, so they've created this world of very bubbly teenagers who want to be "idols" and they think all they have to do is mime quite well and they've made it. … But it's not the problem of the kids, it's the problem of the record companies, because it's just an inexpensive way for them to have so-called, I won't say "artists", but erm...You're nodding, you know what I mean.”
(Interview with Janice Long, 2002)
On fans’ interpretations of his music:
“I think that when you make a record, an album, it has to be a discovery for the person listening to it, so you don't want to pat everything out and say "this was that, this is definite, that's how it happened and that's what you should feel and that's what you should like or dislike". It's personal discovery."
(Interview with Russell Brand, 2009)
On whether pop stars have the right to talk about politics:
“I feel that, if popular singers don’t say these things, who does? We can’t have any faith in playwrights any more, we can’t have any faith in filmstars, young people don’t care about those things, they’re dying arts. And if you say, what ‘right’ do you have, the implication there to me is that popular music is quite a low art, it should be hidden, it can be there but let’s not say anything terribly important, let’s just make disco records or whatever. So I really feel that we do have an obligation and I know that people respect it and they want it and it’s working to great effect.”
(Interview with Tony Wilson, Granada TV, 1985)
And finally, on ageing:
“Age shouldn't affect you. It's just like the size of your shoes - they don't determine how you live your life! You're either marvellous or you're boring, regardless of your age.”
(Interview with Frank Worrall, Melody Maker, September 1983)