1n 1992, NME published an article, not so much questioning Morrissey’s racial beliefs, but pretty much putting the big bovver-boy boot in. It kickstarted a critical backlash against Morrissey in Britain which continued throughout the Nineties and only recovered with the release of ‘You Are The Quarry’ in 2004. Said article obviously soured the long-lived love affair between NME and Morrissey but they made up at the time of ‘You Are The Quarry’, both realising the value in a symbiotic relationship. They kissed and made up in an article which NME spread out over two weeks and NME continued to regularly put Morrissey on the cover of the magazine.
But the love affair is, again, officcially over. NME have, in their current cover article, published another piece questioning Morrissey’s racial beliefs. This time, however, it seems serious. The journalist who initially wrote the piece, Tim Jonez, has asked for his name to be removed from the article as, “NME have rewritten the Moz piece…Virtually none of it is my words or beliefs”. The article has uniquely been credited as ‘Words: NME, Interview: Tim Jonez’. Morrissey’s lawyers have sent a legal letter to NME’s Editor, Conor McNicholas, threatening possible legal action.
Conor Mc Nicholas has claimed that “the feature is, I believe, a fair and balanced piece. It’s not sensationalist but it doesn’t ignore the story either. I have been particularly careful to include all the key moments where Morrissey mitigates his position or makes a strong commitment against racism”.
Morrissey’s manager, Merck Mercuriadis has responded by saying, “When reading it we request that you think for yourself and consider what is question and answer and what is inflammatory editorial on the part of the NME which we assume can only be intended to create controversy to boost their circulation at the expense of Morrissey’s integrity and for which no journalist is willing to be credited. It might as well say “anonymous.” There is virtually no other artist with a more meaningful following across the history of the NME and it would appear that Mr. McNicholas thought the “new” NME could gain some credibility at Morrissey’s expense. The story reads like a cynical exercise by yet another NME editor trying to put his name in the history books via a poorly thought out and terribly executed attempt at character assassination.”
I have yet to read the article myself (the issue will come out in Ireland on Thursday) but it will be interesting to see (a) how much NME have put the boot in this time and (b) what exactly Morrissey has said. The cover of the issue holds a Morrissey quote which reads, “The gates of England are flooded. The country’s been thrown away”. When NME went for him in 1992, the whole thing smacked of journalists desperately pulling together a few quotes, some vague lyrics and his use of the Union Jack as the proof of him being racist. There was no new interview at the time which led them to their opinion. This time, though, it’s all on the basis of comments, Morrissey has (allegedly) made. This story will run for a while, I imagine.
You can read the facts according to Morrissey’s manager, Merck Mercuriadis on the True-To-You website, including the legal letter sent to NME. Above, is a recent performance of a new Morrissey track, ‘All You Need Is Me’ from Last Call with Carson Daly. ‘All You Need Is Me’ will feature on Morrissey’s next album, due in 2008 on Polydor/Decca.