Morrissey and Marr: on their initial meets


From Tony Fletcher‘s wondrous and brilliantly written “A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths“, here’s a sweet part on how Morrissey and Johnny Marr met and how they subsequently felt about it:

Almost thirty years later, Marr was able to elaborate upon the “joyous” nature of that collaboration. “One thing that was never in doubt was my time and my dedication and the songs. But I met someone who was equally dedicated.” In the early days, Morrissey appeared no less driven to succeed than Marr; it was only after success hit in such a big way that the singer would develop a reputation for cancellations and disappearances. And so, said Marr, “It was a fantastic thing to happen. If it was possible for me to be an even happier guy, it happened. Because I’ve got the most perfect relationship with the girl of my dreams. And then I met this guy I admire. And I’m able to share a side of me that he innately understands. Which is separate to ‘let’s form a group.’ There’s a thing inside him of what you can be. Without trying to sound too esoteric, it takes up half of your being. This desire to fulfill this … knowing about yourself as an artist. There’s an unusual aspect to both our personalities that we both understand. It’s about having a knowing of this vision of something that you can do and something that you can be, which is really a big part of you. I’m not just talking about success: it’s about being Johnny Marr, or being Morrissey.”

“You can’t need each other that intensely every day, on some convenient arrangement—it will not work. You can not need each other like that. And provide for each other. And be there for each other, if it’s just about ‘here’s a tune, here’s some words.’ I’m not like that. I don’t care about career enough to do that. I really don’t.”

The fact was that the pair did need each other—and on a very deep, emotional level. There developed, undoubtedly, something much more than a friendship, but rather love between them such as can often be found on the battlefield, occasionally on the sporting field, and which, when evident in a rock group, too, inevitably fuels the flames of something erotic. Both Morrissey and Marr would occasionally invite such speculation, inadvertently or otherwise. “I was so utterly impressed and infatuated,” said the singer of their initial encounter very shortly after the partnership dissolved, using a highly charged word, “that even if he couldn’t play it wouldn’t have mattered because the seeds had been sown and from those seeds anything could sprout. He appeared at a time when I was deeper than the depths … he provided me with this massive energy boost. I could feel Johnny’s energy just seething inside me.”

“From when we first met, we loved with each other,” said Johnny Marr. “We didn’t fall in love with each other, because we respected that we both enjoyed having our own space and our own lives and we knew that was important. There was a very strong bond all the way through until the last couple of weeks of the band. And it was very very important. But we didn’t fall in love with each other.”

“There was a love and it was mutual and equal,” confirmed Morrissey, “but it wasn’t physical or sexual.” From the singer’s perspective, it would have been foolish to even dream of it being otherwise. The day that he went over to write songs with Marr for the first time, he was introduced to Angie Brown, who ferried him to the Altrincham train station in her VW Beetle. It was not a deliberate test of the prospective singer, not even a warning, but a mere confirmation of fact: “You didn’t get Johnny without Angie,” as Marr put it. Fortunately, Morrissey and Brown instantly warmed to each other, becoming close friends themselves, creating one of the many personality dynamics that would prove integral to the Smiths’ ability to succeed as much—and to survive as long—as they did. So while it was true that Morrissey and Marr would spend considerable time traveling together and talking together, it was likely that Brown would be in the driver’s seat much of the time—and that Morrissey would often be the only other passenger.

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