Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Morrissey, "Now My Heart Is Full" (1994)


Over the years, The Queen Is Dead has only sounded better, but I must say I never connected well or easily with the Smiths. Yet somehow, many years later, the Morrissey solo album kicked off by this song, Vauxhall and I, went directly to my heart (all that Graham Greene name-checking notwithstanding). Seeing the show approximately in support of it only cemented the affection, not least perhaps because the audience hysteria for him was pitched at such extreme and infectious levels. Later that night I caught sight of fans sprinting in the street after his tour bus, screaming his name. It's an uneven album, but about half is in this vein: sultry and vulnerable ballads with the ability to soar, sticky with emotion. "Hold on to Your Friends" and "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" sound nearly as good. As pop stars go, Morrissey remains one of the most interesting, sincere and eccentric like Jonathan Richman, fascinating and hard to parse like Aladdin Sane-era Bowie. I take Morrissey at face value, perhaps because he appeals to all sorts. When he says his heart is full, it's hard to explain, and he won't even try to, there's no need to say any more. It's all validated in the thick churn of the music, a wanton mess of rock band, strings, and droning keyboard figures delicately touching and holding the important notes. It's likely that the elegiac tone is product of losses Morrissey suffered in the early '90s, deaths of people close to him. I'm sorry for his loss, of course, and would not wish anything like it on anyone. But the result was nonetheless music that makes my heart full, and does still.

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