I can’t really say that the former frontman for the British-based band The Smiths turned solo performer Morrissey inhabited any part of my musical ethos, positive or negative, big or small, and at any point during my musical travelogue. Sure I knew who he was, and brushed up against his music and the music of The Smiths at times when interfacing with the clove-smoking trench-coat wearing contingent of my American public high school. No question Morrissey has an intriguing voice and knows what to do with it, and The Smiths were undoubtedly one of the most influential bands of British pop rock in the 80’s.
But frankly the dude seems to be a bit of a drama queen. He’s always whining about something. A month ago he was crying about being groped at a TSA checkpoint. Hey man, that’s just the generally-accepted foreplay to boarding a plane in the States these days. Suck it up. Then it was something about feral cats being exterminated in Australia, then he accused Obama of being “white on the inside,” razzed on Prince Harry for being a “passionate animal killer,” and is more notorious than No Show Jones for cancelling tours last minute or waking out of venues for a host of reasons, including famously railing against one of his opening acts, Kristeen Young, for making him sick on tour.
Anyway, whatever you think about the music, the dude’s a serious handful, and it’s either Morrissey’s way, or the highway. I generally find it hard to root for overly-principled, uptight, perfectionist prima donnas who are hell bent on having the rest of the world bend to their own personal will and agenda. But damned if there isn’t something interesting, if only from the curiosity factor at the clashing of two worlds, about his performance of Waylon Jennings’ legendary protest song and super hit “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”
Morrissey performed the song at the Visalia Fox Theater in Visalia, California on August 29th, for what exact reasons remain undetermined. The band nails the 2-chord, hard-pounding, simple composition pretty spot on. Yes, I’m not sure Hank would’ve sang a country song in a Mork suit, but Morrissey seems to really be into his rendition, for whatever reason.
I’m not sure if to laugh at it, love it, or just awkwardly pound my shoulder with my opposite hand to the beat. It’s good someone is keeping this song alive. I guess.