Morrissey A-Z: "Bengali in Platforms"

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
The big difference between The Smiths & Morrissey on his own is that in The Smiths there was a normal person who was equally famous.

On his own he's the local weirdo. And they're disturbing.
 
Some were pleased with it.
Some were uneased with it.
Some were offended at it.
Some were amended at it.
Some were touched by it.
Some were not so muched by it.
Some were relaxed to it.
Some were taxed to it.
Some were converted because of it.
Some were inverted because of it.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I wonder if that's a key difference in writing lyrics in a band and writing lyrics as a solo artist - in that the togetherness of being in a band might make you self-edit your writing ("would the others really be OK with me singing that?") but I dunno...
I don't think that made any difference at all for Morrissey. That's just not the way he thinks.

Besides, Johnny always supported and defended him when he was criticised for his lyrics during The Smiths - which happened more than once.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
Look at this mad exchange from 2004... they called him a Paddy, but it's nice... he wants to be proud of England, but it's a bully...

He seems to have decided he'll stop feeling ashamed when it's a Republic.

20210127_184630.jpg
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
Look at this mad exchange from 2004... they called him a Paddy, but it's nice... he wants to be proud of England, but it's a bully...

He seems to have decided he'll stop feeling ashamed when it's a Republic.

View attachment 67961
He talked about this dichotomy a bit more in this 1999 Irish Times interview.

"My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I'd be teased about it, I was called `Paddy' from an early age. I mean, there I was, born, braised and bred in Manchester but I was still always called `Paddy'. And this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that's how Manchester people are - they're extremely critical of everything and everybody."

Part 1

Part 2
 

SweetnTenderYorkshireman

Well-Known Member
Can see why it divides opinion, but I do like the song very much. As some have said, it has a gorgeous floating quality and the guitar I find lovely. The lyrics, whilst certainly clumsy, I personally don’t find racist or bigoted - but then again, my background is not Bengali, so my testimony can only go too far. I always took it as Morrissey saying “look, don’t make the effort because you won’t be appreciated anyway” with some images that I took as attempts at humour regarding about blinding ankle stars and illfitting platform shoes.
The word “belong” is a tough one because I feel most people automatically believe that to “belong” is to happy about it, which I doubt Moz is in this sense - he’s basically saying “it’s shit here to start with, so it’s really not worth the hassle ”
 

Verso

Well-Known Member
I really love this song and I've always been a vocal apologist for it. Condescending? Yes. Patronizing? Perhaps. Racist? No.

Given that Morrissey's entire lyrical thrust beginning in 1982 was centered around alienation and a feeling of foreignness in one's own home, I always felt like it was obvious that he was singing the word "belong" with heavy quotation marks around it. For who "belongs" in England (and on Earth) less than Morrissey?

It's a tricky subject to sing about and certainly wouldn't be the last time that Morrissey would misrepresent himself through the carelessness of his word choice and delivery. But I do think there is compassion at the heart of "Bengali in Platforms" and I wouldn't want a version of Viva Hate without it. And musically, it offers reprieve of subtlety amidst all the "epics" that it's situated between.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
He talked about this dichotomy a bit more in this 1999 Irish Times interview.

"My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I'd be teased about it, I was called `Paddy' from an early age. I mean, there I was, born, braised and bred in Manchester but I was still always called `Paddy'. And this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that's how Manchester people are - they're extremely critical of everything and everybody."

Part 1

Part 2

I think it's pretty significant that he had the experience of being born in England but still having an Irish slur attached to him.

And him needing to feel it was actually ok & just what they'd do to anyone rather than a rejection of something he can do nothing about.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I think it's pretty significant that he had the experience of being born in England but still having an Irish slur attached to him.

And him needing to feel it was actually ok & just what they'd do to anyone rather than a rejection of something he can do nothing about.
Yes, but I think it becomes also very clear that he often felt somewhere in the middle. Too English for some, too Irish for others, "`one of us' on both sides". He describes it rather positively here, but it can't have been easy when he was younger.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
It's not true though - he got flack for Panic - supposedly hanging black DJs.

And for Reel Around The Fountain being pro child abuse.

Panic still comes up.

Reel withered because the UK became less homophobic.

But he doesn't actually say hang the black DJ. Reel Around the Fountain has ambiguity. Bengali in Platforms calls out specifics and makes them self-conscious and ridiculous. It's really not an empathetic song
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
I really love this song and I've always been a vocal apologist for it. Condescending? Yes. Patronizing? Perhaps. Racist? No.

Given that Morrissey's entire lyrical thrust beginning in 1982 was centered around alienation and a feeling of foreignness in one's own home, I always felt like it was obvious that he was singing the word "belong" with heavy quotation marks around it. For who "belongs" in England (and on Earth) less than Morrissey?

It's a tricky subject to sing about and certainly wouldn't be the last time that Morrissey would misrepresent himself through the carelessness of his word choice and delivery. But I do think there is compassion at the heart of "Bengali in Platforms" and I wouldn't want a version of Viva Hate without it. And musically, it offers reprieve of subtlety amidst all the "epics" that it's situated between.
Similar thoughts. I've felt that "belong here" was the intended way to view it. As though the person is telling Morrissey that he feels no matter how hard he's tried to fit in, he just doesn't feel like he belongs there (in other words, welcomed there). Morrissey's empathetic response of "life is hard enough when you 'belong here'" is basically saying that he feels the same, and it makes no difference that he was born there.

Yes, it could've been expressed better but I honestly believe that is the sentiment he's trying to convey in this song.
 

gordyboy9

its not me its you.
He talked about this dichotomy a bit more in this 1999 Irish Times interview.

"My Irishness was never something I hid or camouflaged. I grew up in a strong Irish community. Of course, early on I'd be teased about it, I was called `Paddy' from an early age. I mean, there I was, born, braised and bred in Manchester but I was still always called `Paddy'. And this was back in the 1960s when it was a bitter and malevolent slur. But that's how Manchester people are - they're extremely critical of everything and everybody."

Part 1

Part 2
its like scots being called jock,never met anybody called jock in my 56 years.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
It's not true though - he got flack for Panic - supposedly hanging black DJs.

And for Reel Around The Fountain being pro child abuse.

Panic still comes up.

Reel withered because the UK became less homophobic.
It probably went something like this:

Morrissey's quote in Melody Maker '86:

“Reggae, for example, is to me the most racist music in the entire world. It's an absolute total glorification of black supremacy... I don’t have very cast iron opinions on black music other than black modern music which I detest. I detest Stevie Wonder. I think Diana Ross is awful. I hate all those records in the Top 40 – Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston. I think they’re vile in the extreme... Obviously to get on Top Of The Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black,”

Plus

Marr's annoyed retort via NME Feb., '87.

Plus

People conflating the 2 quotes and cherry picking bits to bolster their agendas over the years.

=

'Morrissey said hang black DJs...'

I catalogued almost every aspect of Panic's release via my diary at the time. Other than the non-racial specific song lyric and the Steve Wright link, I have zero recollection of any lynching of black DJs being asserted by either party.
Mandela effect perhaps?
Regards,
FWD.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
It probably went something like this:

Morrissey's quote in Melody Maker '86:

“Reggae, for example, is to me the most racist music in the entire world. It's an absolute total glorification of black supremacy... I don’t have very cast iron opinions on black music other than black modern music which I detest. I detest Stevie Wonder. I think Diana Ross is awful. I hate all those records in the Top 40 – Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston. I think they’re vile in the extreme... Obviously to get on Top Of The Pops these days, one has to be, by law, black,”

Plus

Marr's annoyed retort via NME Feb., '87.

Plus

People conflating the 2 quotes and cherry picking bits to bolster their agendas over the years.

=

'Morrissey said hang black DJs...'

I catalogued almost every aspect of Panic's release via my diary at the time. Other than the non-racial specific song lyric and the Steve Wright link, I have zero recollection of any lynching of black DJs being asserted by either party.
Mandela effect perhaps?
Regards,
FWD.

Yeah - I think it's definitely been an agenda. And repetition making it seem true.
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
But he doesn't actually say hang the black DJ. Reel Around the Fountain has ambiguity. Bengali in Platforms calls out specifics and makes them self-conscious and ridiculous. It's really not an empathetic song

It doesn't make a difference.

Panic was accused of the most violent racism.

Reel was accused of child abuse.

Obviously Bengali is an empathetic song - he's got the narrator saying don't blame me, don't hate me, which means he knows he's crushing the guy. What would the thought process be? Aye, I'll write a song about a really friendly person having his hopes dashed because I have no empathy with hopes being dashed???
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
Fletcher's A Light That Never Goes Out quotes Paolo Hewitt's NME review, which vaguely touches on the topic.

"Paolo Hewitt, a leader of NME’s “soul boy” brigade, critiqued the lyrics on face value. 'If Morrissey wants to have a go at Radio 1 and Steve Wright, then fine,' he wrote. 'When he starts using words like disco and DJ, with all the attendant imagery that brings up for what is a predominantly white audience, he is being imprecise and offensive.'
He had a point: Morrissey had made no explicit mention of the radio in his song, and his lyrics could therefore be construed as reviving the racist and homophobic “Disco Sucks” campaign of late 1970s America."

But it's a good point about that interview. Sounds very plausible that the drama was construed retroactively.

That MM interview really is something else. Still astonished by the way Morrissey talks about it in Autobiography as if the mentioning of public toilets was the worst aspect...
 
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B

Bengali

Guest
A lot of you sound pretentious. It’s a beautifully honest lyric with good intention. I like it.
 
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