Morrissey’s latest single, “Spent the Day in Bed” is a clever anti-media statement

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Morrissey’s new album, “Low in High School,” is scheduled for release Nov. 17, 2017. It contains the single, “Spent the Day in Bed.”

Despite a series of health challenges and cancelled tour dates in recent years, it feels safe to say that Morrissey is back. His new single, “Spent the Day in Bed” depicts the singer’s attitude toward the consuming, chaotic nature of contemporary times. In addition, the song sounds like Morrissey at his best. “Spent the Day in Bed” glimmers with Morrissey’s past glory and sounds like classic solo Morrissey.

Morrissey and the art of the statement

In graduate school, I spent a great deal of time attempting to make sense of how Morrissey accomplished what he did. How did he manage to be funny and dour at the same time? Part of Morrissey’s charm is found in his self-deprecating phrases, the way he presents himself, and his vocal quality.

In the early days of the Smiths, Morrissey could be seen wearing hearing aids and glasses that he did not need. In 2017, for the video of “Spent the Day in Bed,” Morrissey has upped his invalid quotient and is in a wheelchair. He doesn’t remain in it; Morrissey is transferred to a chair. Tellingly, he never stands. Even as his arms and legs stretch out emotively, Morrissey is almost always in a chair, until he falls off at the end, which is another humorous touch.

Morrissey: “I Spent the Day in Bed”

The video opens with Morrissey being pushed down a hall in a wheelchair. The place appears to be a hall or club of some kind. The sort with laminate wood tables, metal-framed chairs padded with fake leather, and complete with a small stage for some kind of local entertainment to dazzle patrons.

Before the song even starts, viewers notice that the almost 60-year-old Morrissey has cut off his trademark pompadour, and his dark brown hair is now gray and white. His voice remains strong and flexible, allowing Morrissey to inflect perfect nuances.

Strident ambient sounds attend Morrissey and his caretaker, played by English soccer player, Joey Barton, who pushes him down the hall. These are the sounds of the chair’s wheels, the sound of large doors opening, but they might remind some audiences of the kind of “context sounds” that accompanied “Meat is Murder” and “Piccadilly Palare.”

There are various interpretations of Morrissey’s use of devices meant for the differently abled. One of the more popular interpretations regards Morrissey’s use of these aids as a sign that he has aligned himself with those that he feels are mistreated by society.

Sound and message: “Spent the Day in Bed”

In addition to the context sounds, the instrumentation of the song is different (slightly) from what Morrissey fans might be used to. There is an organ that produces a woozy echo of the lyrical line. It is also a bit bouncy. Most of Morrissey’s work sticks to a guitars-drum combo over which his tenor soars, or grumbles, depending on the song. That said, his malleable tenor is gentle and the lyrics are pronounced clearly.

Humor abounds in this song, as does alliteration. Morrissey sings: “I spent the day in bed/I’m not my type, but I love my bed” and it’s funny, but audiences wonder what does he accomplish by doing this?  The answer is simple: He tunes out. Morrissey has stopped the world– at least for himself. In addition, the singer tells audiences to “stop watching the news.” He further explains why it is good to do so. Toward the end, Morrissey vamps with lines such as “No bus/ no boss…” and it is clear that the modern world is the problem.

In the video, Morrissey performs from a chair from one of the hall’s tables. As the song’s instrumentation fades out, the camera backs away from the musicians and at the last moment, viewers can see Morrissey topple from his perch on the club chair. For those who enjoy physical humor, this is a great moment.

Morrissey succeeds at being unapologetically different. He has done this since his days with the Smiths. However, with the changing of social attitudes and political distrust, Morrissey doesn’t have to work to convince people to stop watching the news. But, the song is effective, anyway, because Morrissey has proven himself adaptable to three decades’ worth of social change. “Spent the Day in Bed” is funny, musically effective, and well-worth the time spent waiting for another Morrissey album.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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