Morrissey: "I Prefer It When They Don't Understand"

Morrissey performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2012.EXPAND
Morrissey performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2012.
JStone / Shutterstock.com
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Morrissey plays Majestic Theatre on April 15

Few musicians inspire the adoration that English singer and songwriter Steven Patrick Morrissey does. Known simply by his last name since he rose to fame with the Smiths in the '80s, Morrissey is regarded as one of the best lyricists of all time, and there is an almost endless list of contemporary indie rock bands that claim him as an influence.

Morrissey has also attracted a lot of attention as a public figure. Some of it is simple curiosity stemming from his privateness about his personal life, but since the Smiths broke up in '87 and he embarked on his solo career, he's also stoked these flames of interest with controversial statements. Just this week, some are calling a T-shirt being sold on his website racist.

Another common complaint is that Morrissey frequently cancels shows, as was the case with his last two Dallas dates (Nov. 16, rescheduled to Dec. 14). But now Morrissey — who released his 10th solo album, World Peace Is None of Your Business, in 2014 — seems to finally be making good on his promise to play Dallas again, with a new show scheduled for April 15 at the Majestic Theatre.

In our email exchange with Morrissey he answers questions about everything from his public image to his favorite vegan recipe, and we see a more gracious side to the artist than has typically appeared in the media as of late.

Who are you reading right now?
I'm following the daily flood of reports on Predicament Trump and his administration. He's very exhausting, isn't he? Mad magazine finally comes to life.

Is there something you wish people knew or understood about you?
I prefer it when they don't understand.

Which song are you most proud of? Are there any you dislike and would prefer to never play again?
I'm proud of most of them. There's only three or four which I think are ridiculous  — which isn't a bad percentage.

One thing your lyrics quickly became known for was their melancholy. Have you ever felt confined by that?
I feel elevated by this because life is, in actual fact, absolutely melancholic, so therefore there's instantly a common truth in expressing melancholia, whereas not many people can relate to the assumption of compulsive happiness. We all die ... which, on the face of it, isn't terribly funny.

If you were a teenager today, what kind of band do you think you'd be in? Or would you be in a band at all?
I wouldn't feel hopeful enough to start a band if I were a teenager today. It all seems so fixed and censored and restricted. I think this is because the artists must now serve the music industry, whereas in the '70s and '80s the music industry served the artists.

This made an incredible difference whereby just about anything could happen in the singles chart. Now, everything has a cast-iron predictability about it. We know exactly whose sales will be hoisted to 10 million, and we know exactly who will be showered with Grammys. Surprise is no longer possible.

How do you conceive of the role of politics in music?
I think it's urgent and essential, but many artists won't touch it because any declaration might lose sales if a certain faction of society disagrees with you. When McDonna [Madonna] recently slammed Trump, she instantly apologized. But what was sincere? Her apology, or her hatred of Trump? She obviously heard that a music store in Gooseneck, Arkansas, would no longer stock her albums.

Is there anything you haven't accomplished yet, whether inside or outside your career, that you would like to?
I have surpassed my own expectations many, many, many times.

Are there any new bands or musicians you like?
Not passionately.

What do you think about the new biopic coming out, England Is Mine? Do you have any hopes for it?
I wasn't approached or consulted by the filmmakers, so I think it's safe to make all the logical assumptions that arise from that. Yikes, I believe, is the common expression.

Do you have a favorite vegan recipe you can share?
I absolutely recommend vegan milk alternatives, which are fantastic. As we all now know, dairy farms are hell if you happen to be a cow. There's enough misery in the world without adding to it by buying cow's milk. Amen and hallelujah.

Morrissey, 8 p.m. April 15, Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St., $75.75 to $109.75 at axs.com.

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