Listening to the Smiths: OK or not OK?

BY OLIVER KOGOD //

As many of you know, the Smiths lead singer Morrissey is a real asshole. Check out these articles if you weren’t aware of his problematic actions: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/ music-news/morrisseys-15-most-outrageous-quotes-198156/, https://www.theguardian.com/ music/2019/may/30/bigmouth-strikes-again-morrissey-songs-loneliness-shyness-misfits-far right-party-tonight-show-jimmy-fallon).  

In this current world where conscious people are quick to rightfully and justifiably oppose (or “cancel”) bad people, I am brought to a question. What happens when a shitty person was a member of a really good band? The Smiths are an example of this. We know Morrissey is bad, but guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke, and drummer Mike Joyce have never done  anything shitty like their ex-bandmate (as far as I can tell from the internet). But, can we blame them for being in a band with Morrissey? Was he so bad back when the band was around? The  majority of the singer’s awful quotes came post Smiths, so maybe the band had no idea he was so despicable. It’s complicated and certainly hard to navigate.  

Nonetheless, the Smiths created a lot of good music. The band’s jangly alternative rock, including Morrissey’s passionately emotional lyrics, Marr’s warbling guitar, Rourke’s weaving, jumpy basslines combined with Joyce’s strong drumming cement the band as one of Britain’s  best. For new listeners of the band, I recommend the 1985 album Meat Is Murder. But,  Morrissey’s actions have tainted the band’s legacy and complicated listening for “fans” today.  

So, circling back to the title of this post, is it okay to listen to the Smiths? That’s the big question. Does listening to them support/give money to a bad person? I will be annoying and not give you a clear answer because I think you should decide for yourself. I would say this, if you are worried about supporting the group financially and don’t want to, yet you still enjoy the music,  I’d suggest using a Youtube to mp3 site to download their music to your computer. This way you can still hear it but avoid supporting the band monetarily. But, the answer is really up to and depends on what you think about it. That’s all I have, if you keep on listening enjoy it but continue to be aware of who you are supporting. 

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