The Mighty Moz is on tour again, supporting his new album. Dude is 55 today, so. Here’s a song that suits perfectly this drab, morosely-colored day in New Haven. It’s from 1988 and is rather blithe (as only Morrissey can be) about “Armageddon.” Ah, to be alive then was darkly clouded but to be young then was certain shits. Morrissey made it a bit better for those compelled to be disaffected while cheekily arch about it. I don’t think there’s a single song by Morrissey or The Smiths, the band he fronted from 1984-1987, that doesn’t provoke a wry smile while I’m listening to it.
“Everyday is Like Sunday” is no exception. I first heard this when my daughter burned me a disc of one of Morrissey’s “best of” albums. I had pretty much ignored the solo Moz—and, so, you know, judge me how you wish. It’s just that much of what I loved about The Smiths wasn’t just Morrissey’s canny lyrics and fey self-projections, but rather the guitar sound created and maintained against all comers by Johnny Marr. And once they split as such things go, Morrissey became more popular than ever but, it seemed to me, by willfully courting a kind of slavish adulation that made him like the white Brit boy Indie answer to Madonna or Prince—everything he did was cause for comment and hysteria. I tried to live my slow crawl of the Eighties into the Nineties while avoiding all such worthies, except to the extent that they were inescapable.
Fitting then that my kid—after all, I’m Morrissey’s age—should be the one to put me on to solo Moz. And this song is one that leapt right out of the collection and inspired a carefully gradated sense of depressing circumstances meeting captious fun. Here we have Moz trudging in the wet sand of a seaside town “they forgot to close down.” We think we’re in some kind of grim working-class holiday spot that just can’t cut it any longer. But he presses on, as the strings give the song an immense lift, almost like the sun streaking the gray on your bank holiday late afternoon to make the day not a total wash, singing coyly, “Armageddon, come Armageddon.” So now we’re not in a seaside town hitting an economic slump, we’re in a seaside town that should’ve been evacuated as during the Blitz, except what they’re waiting for is a nuclear holocaust.
Cheery, idn’t it? And that great refrain keeps bringing us back to the song’s predominant mood, which is gray, flecked with gold; grim, with a ribbing: “Every day is like Sunday / Every day is silent and grey.” Enough to say that sometimes that is simply the mood (like today) and this song helps one exult in an inner drizzle.
Hide on the promenade / Etch a postcard: / “How I dearly wish I was not here” / In this seaside town / That they forgot to bomb
With those lines we get the trenchant aspects of this song. In other words, this place is godawful and should be (have been) bombed. It’s not so much a “fear of nuclear holocaust” song as it is a “this place deserves a violent end that will obliterate it all at once, and me too, please God.” Come, come, come, nuclear bomb. Morrissey is the king of the despairing aside on the self-styled miseries of the fop or dandy or poisonous poseur who can’t bear another moment in the tragically insufferable scenes in which he finds himself. Such is his main gift to the world of song. And this song manages to manifest all that but with a hummable awareness of how rich it is to face death in such banal surroundings. “A strange dust lands on your hands / And on your face.” He keeps repeating the latter line to underscore, I think, what we really stand to lose. As if Roger Daltrey were to shout “We’re all faces!” instead of “They’re all wasted!” We’re faces facing the end. “Don’t cry / Don’t raise your eyes.”
And still that refrain rides one of Morrissey’s best melodies and the lift is undeniable so that the song (if you ignore the words) seems to be celebrating the Sabbath, the day of rest. Sorry it’s not sunny (it might never be sunny again) but at least we’re not at work. Let us go to our graves with a song in our hearts.
Share some grease tea with me.