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Morrisey, former lead singer of the Smiths is not renowned for his calming lyrics. It is hardly surprising then that his first new release in three years pursues a disquieting tone
The staccato ‘intro’ stands in stark contrast to the rest that bed invites. The driving rhythm that ensues militates against daytime repose. Perhaps this is intentional. With the notable exception of night workers most people take to their bed for sleep at night. Those staying the day in bed are typically ill, out of, or eschewing work, homemakers or possibly retired.
Morrissey pre-empts any workshy judgement being made of him, stating “I’m not my type”. The reason, it appears, that he is “very happy” he “spent the day in bed” is that he seeks to avoid what he asserts is the enslavement of being a worker.
Often associated with time off work is watching daytime TV, an eclectic mix of soaps and shopping channels. But rather than endorsing avoiding these, Morrisey advocates his listeners “Stop watching the news”. As he offers this advice the rhythm modulates, becoming free flowing, and the melody resolves, running counter to the conspiracy theory he implies. “News contrives to frighten you”, with the purposes, he alleges, of minimising personal significance, isolating and controlling individuals. “To make you feel small and alone…that your mind isn't your own”. This cocktail of ideas is likely to provoke anxiety even in the most stable among us.
The theme of escape continues into the second stanza as Morrisey, lying in his paid for sheets, consoles himself that his “dreams” are “perfectly legal”. So persuaded is he by the efficacy of his strategy that he urges all he embraces as friends to “Stop watching the news”. The benefit to be derived from following this advice he suggests is “time [to] do as I wish”. The accompanying music slows, taking on an ethereal quality, emphasising the freedom to imagine.
By his third meditation on the advantages of spending the day in bed, Morrisey pleads with those who will listen to follow his recommendation to “be good to yourself” before the “pillows” of bed become the “pillars” of a tomb because “life ends in death”.
As Morrissey’s treatise melts into the ‘outro’ the repetitive alliteration of “no bus, no boss” and the rhyming of “no rain, no train” echo the rhythmic quality of a commuter journey. But Morrisey’s sardonic observation goes further he seems to see the routine of work as a depersonalising pursuit, one which emasculates and castrates, offering “no highway, freeway motorway” as escape to wilder reverie. Morrisey finally reinforces his view of the work-a-day world as enslaving by what sounds like the lash of a whip.
While I acknowledge news can shock, here is not the place, nor is there the space, to enter into a debate about whether the way in which it is told contrives to frighten, diminish, isolate and control people. Indeed, I find conjecture about conspiracy theory as unsettling as the concept itself. Spending the day in bed to avoid the object of our terror flies in the face of recognised desensitisation treatments of progressively facing our fears.
For me the alarm raised by this song is observing the balance between work and rest. Time and space to reflect on experiences and imagine possibilities offers enrichment. We work more effectively from a place of rest. The routine and creative aspect of work can be beneficial. Granted, some of us have greater opportunities and wider choices than others about what we work as and who we work for. Fundamentally, I find myself unable to agree with Morrisey’s thesis. After all, if we stay the day in bed to avoid being enslaved as a worker who will pay for the bed sheets in which we lie?
A registered therapist or counsellor or a trained pastoral carer can support and accompany you in helping face your fears and anxieties.
David Sinclair is a registered accredited psychotherapist, counsellor and supervisor and is the Director of Pastoral Care UK, the Pastoral Care arm of the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
ACC is a professional body accredited by the Professional Standards Authority to hold a register of counsellors and psychotherapists. As a faith-based soul care agency it is uniquely equipped to explore the integration between Christianity, counselling and mental health. ACC’s heritage of safe, competent and ethical care places it well to equip others to care pastorally.