Monday, September 14, 2009

SOUNDS (without actual sounds): Morrissey - "It's not your Birthday Anymore"

I'm presenting on Morrissey's "It's not your Birthday Anymore" in the "Popular Music and Culture" class at Providence College tomorrow morning. I am a bit concerned because I find the song quite mean, not to anyone in the class, but rather to the person in the song. There is a certain air of violence in the song, including some of a sexual nature, it seems. While Morrissey's lyrics have often been mean, I think that this song is downright terrible. This isn't to say that there is no merit to discussing it; actually, it needs to be discussed. I think in terms of a narrative analysis. What is going on? And why is Morrissey yelling?

If one places the song in the context of the singer's other work, within the discourse of his vocal expression, it is extremely striking. Morrissey is never this loud, to be frank. Is it a coincidence that the song precedes another song about death? Is the second half of Years of Refusal darker than once thought, or can the album be thought of as another part of the spectrum of violence begun on Ringleader of the Tormentors and "The Father who must be Killed"?

If you get a chance, take a listen to some of these songs. How do you (or I) think Morrissey is situating himself with these violent lyrics and (frankly) violent vocal expressions?

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