Here’s a great 32-year-old article from SPIN’s archives, from around the time that I was getting into them. (Yes, I was late to the party and had to work my way back through the Twin/Tone albums.) The band had just parted ways with manager Pete Jesperson, fired lead guitarist Bob Stinson, and released one of their best albums, Pleased To Meet Me. Recorded right here in Memphis!
“When we started,” [Westerberg] says, pausing to sip from a midmorning Schmidt, “we definitely had a fear of success. We had a fear of everything. We were all very paranoid, and I think that goes hand in hand with the excessive drinking thing. We’d get drunk because we were basically scared shitless, and that snowballed into image. Now we’re a little more assured of what we’re doing. We’re not positive which way we’re going, but we think we know what mistakes lie ahead, and we’re trying to sidestep ‘em.”
These days, however, Morrissey prefers a different kind of onstage provocation. During a recent performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (and at a number of live shows in New York), the former Smiths singer sported a For Britain badge. For those unfamiliar with it, For Britain is a far-right political party. Even Nigel Farage believes it is made up of “Nazis and racists”.
To see Morrissey embrace the far right so openly was shocking. But was it surprising? Ever since the early 90s, he has flirted with the far right and fascist imagery – wrapping himself up in the union jack, writing a song called The National Front Disco, making inflammatory comments about immigration.
Yet in the last year there has been little doubt about his views. He has claimed Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, “cannot talk properly”, and declared “Even Tesco wouldn’t employ Diane Abbott,” – the Cambridge-educated shadow home secretary and Britain’s most prominent black MP. He has described the media’s treatment of the racist Tommy Robinson as “shocking”. And he has explicitly promoted For Britain on his Morrissey Central website: “There is only one British political party that can safeguard our security.” The party’s leader, Anne Marie Waters, posted a video online thanking Morrissey for his support.
I somehow made it to 50 without ever reading any of Raymond Carver’s short stories, but I’m fixing that now with this collection. Great stuff! Little depressing slices of life that any bastard can relate to. Perfect bedtime reading …
By the time of his early death in 1988, Raymond Carver had established himself as one of the great practitioners of the American short story, a writer who had not only found his own voice but imprinted it in the imaginations of thousands of readers. Where I’m Calling From, his last collection, encompasses classic stories from Cathedral, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and earlier Carver volumes, along with seven new works previously unpublished in book form. Together, these 37 stories give us a superb overview of Carver’s life work and show us why he was so widely imitated but never equaled.
I picked this one up in hardback at Barnes & Noble for a few bucks. Chabon I’m quite familiar with, having read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Wonder Boys, and Werewolves in Their Youth. I honestly believe Chabon is one of our greatest living writers. Anyhoo …
In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.
Don’t Tell a Soul marked the debut of Bob “Slim” Dunlap, who replaced founding guitarist Bob Stinson. The album was recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles and produced by Matt Wallace and the band. It was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, who decided to give the record “a three-dimensional, radio-ready sound”. However, singer and guitarist Paul Westerberg was not satisfied with the new direction, commenting: “I thought the little things I’d cut in my basement were closer to what I wanted.”
To celebrate, let’s all take a moment and watch one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll moments.
Before the show, they were told they needed to change the line, “We’re feeling good from the pills we took.” Well, fittingly, Westerberg did no such thing, and the censors were obviously ready for it, as the tape goes silent during that section of the song. What the censors at ABC didn’t anticipate was this: Near the conclusion of “Talent Show” the lyrics address the time when the band hits the stage and there’s no retreating: “It’s too late to turn back, here we go” is repeated twice on the album version, but here Westerberg has changed the line to “It’s too late to take pills, here we go”—ha! The censors missed it and they’ve pissed everyone off again! To add insult, the line is sung three times.