One of the first singles released by former Smiths frontman Morrissey, this song made me crazy confused the first time I ever heard it, sitting in a café in Soho back in 1990. I couldn’t tell it if it was more of Mozz’s stone-faced allegorizing or a straight-forward story of a love and monstrosity. Closer listens revealed that the galvanic track narrates a sad but ultimately heroic tale of a disabled child that’s meant, in typical Morrissey form, to push buttons, raise questions, disturb and endear. Switching from narrating the tale to actually embodying the “monster” in the title, Morrissey draws pictures of such beauty and sadness, against a swirling guitar-driven beat, that you can’t help but get wrapped up it. I’ve always been interested in the ways in which some bodies get constructed as “monstrous,” as outcast beings that ultimately comment on the “humanity” we all purportedly share. Leave it to Morrissey to envelop a pop song in such heady, thoughtful themes—he is, after all the man who wrote the greatest love song of the 1980s and cast it as a virtual suicide pact. This might not be the single to introduce non-Morrissey fans to the genius of one of England’s (and pop’s) most gifted songwriter/performers, but if you have the stomach for pop songs steeped in the grandly- and gothically-rendered allure of (and intersection of) sorrow and irony, you can’t do better than this ultimately glorious piece of music.
You can hear it here: