Morrissey A-Z: "Billy Budd"

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Do you even know BTBB?

I did a number of those Boxer shows. As much as I tell myself they were brilliant, I don’t think they actually were.
Why wouldn’t he know Benny? Or rather, why wouldn’t he know that Benny was at that particular gig?
 

Ketamine Sun

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I agree


No, I don't think that was his point of view anymore by the time he wrote that song. That's why I said I see it as him bringing down the curtains on the chapter of his life that was The Smiths. Compare his answer from Select, 1991.

What was the secret?
"It was a special musical relationship. And those are few and far between. For Johnny (Marr) and I, it won't come again. I think he knows that and I know it. The Smiths had the best of Johnny and me. Those were definitely the days. Luckily, there's still more on his part and more on my part to contribute.
It was sad when The Smiths ended, but I don't think there's much that...
(he laughs) I'm babbling, aren't I? I'm swallowing my own teeth. It's interesting to choke on your own words. It must be very gratifying for a journalist to see somebody choke on his own words."

Try again.
"I guess, I feel a complete sense of hopelessness about the demise of The Smiths. I think Johnny was very unhappy that he didn't get an overwhelming degree of attention in the general assessment of The Smiths during their existence. There would be many, many album reviews which scarcely mentioned his name. And I feel that he wanted - that he needed - a stronger platform. He needed to be seen, and that's been his aim since the demise of The Smiths."

Well, it could be that as well, of course. Would you say it mirrors Hand In Glove at all? In sentiment, I mean. Regardless of the subject of the songs.

I still wonder what this ‘freedom’ is that he wishes he can give to Marr?

And is Marr even aware that he’s not free? I guess with the work Marr’s done after The Smiths, Morrissey can see that Marr is not
free, successful or able to reach the same levels of creativity he did while in The Smiths?


As far as the comparisons of Hand in Glove and Billy Budd? maybe. I mean the lines you’ve drawn between the two songs are very interesting. It being their first single together and more or less a song about their partnership, it just may have triggered Morrissey to playfully pull from it while writing Budd.
 

Ketamine Sun

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I always felt that the last line was just one of Morrissey's idiosyncratic expressions of quiet loyalty coming from the same place as the last line in "Angel Angel Down We Go Together."

yes, I can see that.
 

Ketamine Sun

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Seeing the competing interpretations of the lyrics makes me feel that this is a great lyric. I like it when it is multi-layered, when it can mean different things to different people. And it comes with references to other people's work. The energetic and upbeat tune makes me think that it is a happy song, so I am more inclined to link it to Jake than to Johnny.

It is not the best song on V&I but that's only because the bar was very high on that one.

Yes multi-layered. Actually, I like to think the song is about both Johnny and Jake, both are/were loves in his life for different reasons. But there’s enough room in it so the listener may relate to it in their own way.
 

Ketamine Sun

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I did a number of those Boxer shows. As much as I tell myself they were brilliant, I don’t think they actually were.
I think they were brilliant, but not as brilliant as the Arsenal shows were.
 

Surface

Vegan Cro’s parents regret the condom splitting
I find it really interesting how some people read into and try to interpret the lyrics of a song, for me the music has always been the hook rather than the lyrics, probably explains why I like New Order so much as the music's great and the lyrics are not!
 

Ketamine Sun

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I find it really interesting how some people read into and try to interpret the lyrics of a song, for me the music has always been the hook rather than the lyrics, probably explains why I like New Order so much as the music's great and the lyrics are not!
But the thing about New Order is that the lyrics don’t really have to be great. They do serve their purpose though and Bernard’s delivery fits the mood of those songs which do lean more towards dance music.
 
V

Vegan Cro Spirit .777

Guest
:rolleyes:
WTF??? the MUSIC has been the HOOK rather than the LYRICS??? the music is lyrics??o_O
maybe time for Skinny to call in for a tune up FFS. put some lyric understanding algorithms in
there. and a couple of brain cells.. the music is the music as opposed to the lyrics WTF????:crazy:

🛒
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
As well as "Billy Budd", Melville published a collection of poetry called John Marr and Other Sailors.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marr_and_Other_Sailors


Can't see what's 'cryptic' about this song at all, it's pretty clear.

Read into this what you may - "John Marr" is a poem about someone who left his old life for 'greener pastures' and lived to regret it:

"The critic F. O. Matthiessen finds an "oblique parable" to the bleakness of Melville's own later years in the title poem, "John Marr". In it, Marr, an old sailor, has left the "vastness of the sea for the vastness of the prairies". Melville's preface to the poem says that the pioneers there were "kindly", but "staid" and "sincerely, however narrowly, religious". They lacked "the free-and-easy tavern clubs ... in certain old and comfortable seaport towns", and were lacking "geniality, the flower of life springing from some sense of joy in it". But when Marr tried to enliven the occasion with a story of his adventures at sea, the blacksmith honestly said to him: "Friend, we know nothing of that here".
 
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Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
There are many more aspects one could mention besides the "12 years" (which he later adjusted to fit the year 1982 in live performances).

In Autobiography when he catches Johnny red-handed with Bryan Ferry in the studio, he also uses a Melville reference: "[...] the Smiths battleship springs its first mutinous leak, with John Porter as sly Captain Bligh, and Johnny as the always-innocent young cabin-boy, hoping old Moby Dick will use his tune."
In the same passage, he describes the situation of finding Porter, Marr and Ferry as - "Billy Bunter and his playmates are rumbled."
I'm sure Bryan was thrilled...

Billy Bunter.jpg
 
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Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Yes multi-layered. Actually, I like to think the song is about both Johnny and Jake, both are/were loves in his life for different reasons. But there’s enough room in it so the listener may relate to it in their own way.

I actually entertain that possibility too. And I sometimes wonder Morrissey, consciously or subconsciously, blends different experiences / lyric together in one song.
 

Ketamine Sun

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...
I actually entertain that possibility too. And I sometimes wonder Morrissey, consciously or subconsciously, blends different experiences / lyric together in one song.

I think he does. It’s not unusual for an artist to do this, so many experiences influence one if they like it or not, know it or not.
So, yes that’s why I don’t feel that any song is about one particular thing only, even if it appears to be so on its surface.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
In the same passage, he describes the situation of finding Porter, Marr and Ferry as - "Billy Bunter and his playmates are rumbled."
I'm sure Bryan was thrilled...

The Bryan Ferry incident in Morrissey's book was deeply revealing. Why was he so upset at finding Johnny with Bryan in the studio? Johnny had worked with other people before while in the Smiths: Billy Bragg, Everything but the Girl, Quando Quango, etc. Was he jealous because Bryan was a handsome, older, much-admired man?
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
The Bryan Ferry incident in Morrissey's book was deeply revealing. Why was he so upset at finding Johnny with Bryan in the studio? Johnny had worked with other people before while in the Smiths: Billy Bragg, Everything but the Girl, Quando Quango, etc. Was he jealous because Bryan was a handsome, older, much-admired man?
He didn't want The Smiths to end.
Next thing he basically sees after the split is Ferry singing over a Smiths' tune with Marr in the background of the video.
Regardless of how they split, the fact it was that tune would have not helped things.
I remember fans being incensed by The Right Stuff at the time (keeping in mind - Marr knew about Ferry's offer prior to him going off soul searching).
Regards,
FWD.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
In the same passage, he describes the situation of finding Porter, Marr and Ferry as - "Billy Bunter and his playmates are rumbled."
I'm sure Bryan was thrilled...

View attachment 68025
I had actually included that part at first, but deleted it because it wasn't relevant to my line of argument and I felt it might distract people. 😅
But yes. Very charming indeed.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
The Bryan Ferry incident in Morrissey's book was deeply revealing. Why was he so upset at finding Johnny with Bryan in the studio? Johnny had worked with other people before while in the Smiths: Billy Bragg, Everything but the Girl, Quando Quango, etc. Was he jealous because Bryan was a handsome, older, much-admired man?
Jealousy, insecurity, a combination of both. He thought everyone around them was a threat to their relationship and was trying to lure Johnny away from him - John Porter, Joe Moss, Bryan Ferry, you name it. He also harboured paranoid ideas that people were trying to poison Johnny against him.
Re-read the section about the Smiths first visit to New York in 1983 - he becomes convinced that Joe (!) is actually trying to replace him as a singer, though it sounds insane and is completely at odds with the same story in Johnny's book. "It takes Johnny a few days to lance the views of others out of his system, and then he calls me. Hanging by a thread, we resume -- deloused of Joe Moss." Joe Moss, one of Johnny's closest friends, a 'louse'.

Those passages really give you a sense of what JM was dealing with back then, and that was four years before the end of the band. Every single person who got too close to him was 'banished' and when JM did leave, Moz continued blaming 'undesirables' who had come between them rather than reflecting on his own behaviour. He had an attitude of ownership when it came to Johnny.
 
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GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
And is Marr even aware that he’s not free? I guess with the work Marr’s done after The Smiths, Morrissey can see that Marr is not
free, successful or able to reach the same levels of creativity he did while in The Smiths?
Set The Boy Free? :cool:
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
The Bryan Ferry incident in Morrissey's book was deeply revealing. Why was he so upset at finding Johnny with Bryan in the studio? Johnny had worked with other people before while in the Smiths: Billy Bragg, Everything but the Girl, Quando Quango, etc. Was he jealous because Bryan was a handsome, older, much-admired man?
 
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