Monday, April 30, 2007

I am the Son and the Heir...

In which I am interviewed by Grant Miller, Esq. primarily on the subject of a particular band from the 1980's born on the banks of the Mersey under the shadow of the Salford Lad's Club.

GM: You and I are both Smiths fans. I remember the exact moment I "got" the Smiths: Sitting in my folks basement, trying to work up the courage to wickedly makeout with a girl. "Cemetry Gates" came on and it's been downhill ever since. What is your first Smiths-related memory?

EG: I was introduced to The Smiths by my older brother, who was introduced to them by his girlfriend's older brother. This gentleman was quite the ladies man in high school, but last I heard was married to a guy named Bob. Quite apropos.

I was busy wearing out dubbed copies (as was the style at the time) of The Doors "L.A. Woman" and Led Zepplin IV in my Walkman. My brother suggested I listen to his freshly dubbed copy of "The Queen is Dead."* Needless to say the generic disenfranchisement of "People Are Strange" cannot hold a candle to the lyrical miracle that is Stephen Patrick Morrissey. I locked myself in my room and haven't come out since.

GM: We both missed the Smiths height by a few years. But I made up for it by seeing Johnny Marr and his related bands and Morrissey whenever either came in town. Have you seen any of the Smiths perform solo?

EG: I have never had the opportunity to see Johnny Marr or any of the particular bands he has been in live. Hopefully I will get a chance in the near future. I still greatly admire his talent.

As for Moz, I have had tickets 3 times. The first was before I left for college. The concert was to be held, rain or shine, at the I.C. Light Amphitheater in Pittsburgh (as if there would be an I.C. Light Amphitheater anywhere else.) I went with some friends including my girlfriend**. I made sure we were ridiculously early, and subsequently were amongst the first dozen people there. We stood a mere five feet from the luxurious dryness of the tent enclosure when the sky opened up and a deluge of biblical proportions fell down in punishing sheets. I am not sure how long we stood there before the event staff came out to break the news. The delicate Mr. Morrissey had a tickle in his throat and decided he couldn't possibly go on -It was a crushing disappointment.

The second time, I actually got to see him in Berkley (I anticipate I will never experience people watching of that quality ever again) with my Lulu in the days between record labels. He played a lot of the songs that ended up on "You Are the Quarry." The entire experience was transcendent. This made up for the first time.

I am also going to Columbus to see him with Pezda on May 18. Be sure to check back here on What I Like About the Universe for a complete debriefing.

GM: My opinions of solo-Morrissey are mixed. He's always given the benefit of the doubt because he's Morrissey, but I believe a significant chunk of his solo work is shabby. Convince me otherwise.

EG: I am more or less of the same mind. Even my collection lacks "Southpaw Grammar" and "Maladjusted." Marr was definitely the yang to his yin. But despite several missteps, one has to consider the bright spots and the length of his solo career. One also has to assume that had they stayed together, The Smiths would eventually have been guilty of some lackluster product. Therefoe I think it is fair that he should only have to produce a body of work equal to that of the Smiths. That would mean he only needs four solid studio albums, two good compilations (acknowledging that "Louder than Bombs" is essentially a combination of "Hatfull of Hollow" and "The World Won't Listen" for American consumption,) and a live album. So here we go:
  1. "Viva Hate" - Undeniably a classic. Still reminiscent of The Smiths and possibly the peak of his career. I have this on tape, LP and CD. And I will have it surgically implanted in my brain, when that undoubtedly becomes the format that replaces MP3.
  2. "Your Arsenal" - A bit thick, but manageable. Many strong singles and not too far off the deep end. A definite departure from his previous work, which shows a little range.
  3. "Vauxhall and I" - If you don't believe me, listen to it again. It isn't the masterpiece that "Viva Hate" is, but it is a great album. It has an airy and dreamy quality to it. Very light compared to "Your Arsenal." A nice sorbet to cleanse the palette.
  4. "You are the Quarry" - I recommend listening to the special edition which contains the tracks from the EP and singles. In this form the album is a triumphant comeback. The additional tracks create a strong ending that the album in its original release sorely lacked.
As for compilations, I offer "World of Morrissey" and "My Early Burglary Years." And for live album you can take your pick of "Beethoven Was Deaf" or "Live at Earl's Court." Granted I am cutting him some slack here, but like you said, he is Morrissey.

GM: Is it really so strange?

EG: I say yes. You say no...but you will change your mind!

GM: Why should people read your blog?

EG: They probably shouldn't. It is usually an epic waste of time (mine as well.) They would be much better served reading Grant Miller Media. *** My blogs isn't one of those you should really read. Just check in on from time to time. I used to be jealous of your traffic, but am now comfortable with my place as a third-tier blogger.

But in the spirit of this blog meme, should you wish to be interviewed by Evil Genius, please let me know. I will track you down and grill you under a bare bulb with prerecorded expositional voice-over playing in the backgroound. When you post the interview on your site, I will link back to you. And then you can interview people and link to them. And then we will all use Faberge Organic Shampoo!

In closing let me say this: Grant Miller, I would surely leap in front of a flying bullet for you.

*The dipwad needed to cut a track to fit it on the blank tape and chose the title track. So for years I thought "Frankly Mr. Shankly" was the lead off. Eventually I scraped up enough scratch to procure my own legal copy and was shocked and ashamed to discover that my intimate knowledge of the album was incomplete.

**She was never technically my girlfriend. I took her to my senior prom and we were stupid about each other, we just preferred the drama of the love/hate dynamic. I blame her and Morrissey equally for screwing up my perspective on relationships from ages 17-27.

***I do get $500 bucks every time I mention Grant Miller Media, right?


pezda said...

I'd volunteer to be interviewed, but you might expose the fact that I've really nothing to say.

Evil Genius said...


You're all I'm getting, so expect your 5 questions soon.

Beth said...

Very Smithy, very interesting. You know, Michael Stipe broke Morrissey's heart ...

Evil Genius said...


In my mind it was the other way around: Morrissey broke Stipe's heart. (And you won't convince me otherwise.)

Hey, wait a second...Grant hasn't even linked here yet. You mean people have actually been reading this? I better tidy up!

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Thanks for mentioning Pittsburgh!

Grant Miller said...

The check is on its way.

Evil Genius said...

BSUWG: Represent!

GM: Please make it payable to "cash."

Lucidiocy said...


I would now like to introduce Grant Miller to one of my sisters (I have 5).


Evil Genius said...


But I still get my pick of the remaining 4, right?


Do you have your sisters' consent on this?