'I've never intended to be controversial but it's very easy to be controversial in pop music because nobody ever is.' -Steven Patrick Morrissey
Morrissey is arguably the greatest disturbance popular music has ever known. Even more than the choreographed carelessness of punk and the hyperbolic gestures of glam rock and the New romantics, Morrissey’s early bookish ineptitude, his celebration of the ordinary, and his subversive endorsement of celibacy, abstinence and rock ‘n’ roll revolutionized the world of British pop. As an increasingly pugnacious solo artist, too, he consistently adopts the outsider’s perspective and dares us to confront genuinely uncomfortable subjects. In his brilliant and original book, Gavin Hopps examines the work of this charming man with a thorn in his side: a compelling performer, whose intelligence, wit, humor, suffering and awkwardness have fascinated audiences around the world for the last 25 years.
Hopps traces the trajectory of Morrissey’s career – from its beginning in the early 80s with the Smiths to the release of his latest album Ringleader of the Tormentors – and outlines the contours and contradictions of the singer’s elusive persona. The book illuminates Morrissey's coyness (how can he remain a mystery when he tells us too much?), his dramatized melancholy (surely more of a radical existential protest than the gimmick some believe it to be), and his complex attitudes towards loneliness and alienation, as well as his intriguing sense of the religious.
In the course of this penetrating study of Morrissey’s oeuvre, Hopps offers close readings of individual lyrics and illuminating comparisons with a range of literary figures – such as Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Paul Celan and Philip Larkin. Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart, at once erudite and accessible, argues convincingly for Morrissey’s inclusion in the pantheon of literary greats.