2/13/2009

Morrissey: "The Past Seems Like a Distant Place"

In a conversation that was broadcast in February of 2009, Morrissey, the eccentric and contrary figure from Manchester, England, who made his name as a member of The Smiths in the 1980s, peevishly denied (not for the first time, and probably not for the last time) all conjecture that he might be willing to perform with the band again. The British singer and lyricist, who is known for having raised the human quality of willfulness to a high art, was responding to questions on BBC Radio 2, and stated: "People always ask me about reunions, and I can't imagine why."

During the course of the same broadcast, Morrissey (who was appearing on BBC Radio as a means of promoting his latest album, Years of Refusal) also said, "The past seems like a distant place, and I'm pleased with that." It sounded as if Morrissey, for his part, was thoroughly and adamantly finished with The Smiths, and harbored no active interest in looking backward to the well-known exploits of his younger days. On the other hand, perhaps he was merely being difficult for the sake of being difficult, out of habit.

A month before Morrissey spoke to the BBC, I happened to have a friendly encounter with Johnny Marr, who was the guitarist and chief composer with The Smiths, at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. During my brief conversation with the famous musician, who displayed quiet charm and easy graciousness as we talked, I mentioned the current outbreak of rumors regarding the likelihood of The Smiths getting together again, but he merely frowned and shook his head in reply, dismissing the empty rumors without a word. I did not pursue the matter any further.

In 2009, it appeared quite certain that, according to both Morrissey and Johnny Marr (the two people whose opinions are most pertinent to the question under discussion), the story of The Smiths (who ceased their activities in 1987) was not destined to gain another chapter, at least not any time soon. Those of us who continue to slavishly count ourselves as serious fans of The Smiths can only strive to maintain a degree of hope (where The Smiths are concerned, there is a light that never goes out) and pleadingly ask, "How soon is now?"