From his record label:
Morrissey is one of few iconic musicians making radical, counter-cultural work, and Harvest Records is proud to release his latest album on July 15th, 2014. World Peace Is None Of Your Business explores the tragedy of human apathy in our turbulent, modern era. Morrissey’s career as a writer reaches new lyrical heights but maintains his signature humor, drama, and emotional longing. World Peace Is None Of Your Business was produced by Joe Chiccarelli at La Fabrique Studios in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. The video for “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” is the first in a series of spoken-word performances directed by Natalie Johns and filmed at the legendary Capitol Studios. The short film features a cameo by Nancy Sinatra and is streaming at iTunes.
PREVIOUSLY: For the deeply devoted—and they are legion—there are but two periods in the history of mankind: The time Before Smiths and the time After Smiths. The years B.S. ended in Manchester one May afternoon in 1982, when Johnny Marr—his rockabilly quiff stacked high and retro, Brando-esque Levis cuffed just right—ambled up to 384 Kings Road and knocked on the door. One Steven Patrick Morrissey, unemployable bookworm homebody, who at the ripe old age of 22 was beginning to get the distinct feeling that life had passed him by, answered the door. Marr did not bother with the inane niceties of small talk, and told Morrissey, in so many words, that he was starting a band, it was going to change the world, and you are going to be the lead singer.
In that case, you had better come inside, Morrissey said. CUT again in so many words. END CUT Years later, after he’d been ensconced as the poet laureate of a lost generation, Morrissey would say he had expected something like this all along, that for years on end he sat vigil in his bedsit sanctum in his mother’s house waiting for destiny to knock on his door.
And so it had.
They went up to Morrissey’s bedroom, which was wallpapered with floor-to-ceiling shelves heaving with books, and all roads seemed to lead to a typewriter on a desk. A failed rock critic, Morrissey had taken to writing poetry as of late. They bonded immediately over a shared love of ’60s girl groups like the Shirelles, the Crystals and the Shangri-Las. “There was so much yearning in those records,” says Marr. “They had a great sound, there was a real magic and exuberance about them. Phil Spector’s production work had a gothic intensity. He created these three-minute explosions of sound. It was these mini-symphonies sung by teenagers in Brooklyn and Queens, and each one made a statement. It meant more to me than whatever tired shit was going around in the U.K. in 1982. I wanted to make records that had that kind of intensity. I thought that Morrissey was the only other person who liked the kind of music I liked for the same reasons I did. There is an understanding there, you know?”
The next time, they met at Marr’s house. Up in his attic bedroom, they sorted out the truly important things—the color of the label on their first single (blue), the record company they were going to sign with (Rough Trade)—and then they started writing songs. Morrissey had brought with him two poems. The first was titled “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle,” with its gloomy intimations of domestic violence and sexual abuse (“There’ll be blood on the cleaver tonight”).
The second was called “Suffer The Children,” and its subject matter was the infamous Moors Murders. Between July of 1963 and October 1965, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley kidnapped, raped and murdered five children in and around Manchester. Three bodies were recovered from the moors outside town, hence the name. The crimes haunted Morrissey’s childhood, and continue to cast a long dark shadow over Manchester to this day. “Suffer The Children” was a hell of a long way from “Da Do Run Run,” but in the space of a few hours, Morrissey and Marr had written their first two songs. Exactly one year later, Rough Trade released “Hand In Glove,” the Smiths’ debut single. The label on the center of the 45 was blue.
The Smiths rose to fame on both the catchiness of Marr’s ringing Rickenbacker arpeggios and the sheer poetry of Morrissey’s contrarian lyrics, not to mention his acerbic wit and outrageous public pronouncements. Morrissey, avowedly vegetarian and proudly celibate, gave voice to the quiet desperation of the bullied, the bookish, the bruised and the broken.
“He was speaking to the disaffected, the unhappy, the suppressed, the people who are confused, the people who are being put down, the people who had awful schooling, at a point that people in Britain were surely falling apart and no one cared,” says Tony Fletcher, author of THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT: The Enduring Saga Of The Smiths. “Every day you would get knocked around on the streets and no one—not the teachers or the police or even your parents—seemed to care. Unless you were incredibly masculine, you risked getting beaten up every day. England was and still is an incredibly violent country.”
Out of the gate, Morrissey tapped into a deep well of private despair, sublimated anger and social dislocation, a pervasive sense that the machinery of The Establishment—the school system, the justice system and government itself—was at best incompetent and unresponsive to the actual needs of the people, and at worst cruel and abusive by design. But instead of articulating this emerging anti-Establishmentarian consensus as raw spleen and vitriol, as did the punks that came before him, Morrissey would come bearing flowers, his rage-against-the-machine wrapped in Wilde-ian aphorisms, take-me-back-to-Old-Blighty whimsy and gentle, velveteen guitar pop. Every Smiths song is like a candy apple with a razor blade inside. MORE