Present at meeting: Morrissey (seminal artiste, iconic singer), Boz Boorer (musical director to seminal artiste/iconic singer), Mikey Bracewell (former novelist, former webmaster of MorrisseysWorld blog, minute-taker), Aaron Goldberg (music executive), Dick Bush (music executive), Sarah Kraijcek (executive assistant)
Morrissey, Boz Boorer and Mikey Bracewell are sitting in a large office scented with subtle notes of jasmine and vanilla. Morrissey has a cup of tea and a CD box in front of him, Boz Boorer is doing the Daily Star crossword, Mikey Bracewell is scribbling furiously in a note pad.
Morrissey: 'Would you kindly stop clicking that ball-point pen, Boz?'
Boz: 'Sorry Moz. I'm stuck on this clue. P'raps you can help me, sir?'
*the seminal artiste sighs and sips his Typhoo with bag in*
Boz: 'Being a film buff, I'm sure you'll know the answer to this one, sir-'
*the seminal artiste taps his fingers on the desk*
Boz: '-You're bound to know this one, sir, what with your powerful memory and massive knowledge of clever foreign films and such-'
*An uncomfortable silence is punctuated by an irritable jutting of the lower jaw by the seminal artiste*
Mikey B: 'Boz, I think Morr-ee-say is waiting for the question.'
Boz: 'Sorry, sir. Well, it says Mario Brother...'
Morrissey: 'You said film?'
Boz: 'There was Groucho Mario and the other one, sir. I'm sure it isn't Groucho. Too many letters, you see, Moz.'
*the seminal artiste rolls his eyes*
Mikey B: 'Boz I think you're confusing the Mario brothers with the Marx brothers.'
Boz: 'I didn't realise Karl Marx had a brother-'
Boz: 'It's definitely not Luigi, sir.'
Morrissey: 'How many letters?'
Boz: 'Five, sir. Five letters. Let me check. One. Two. Three. Five. Uh, I mean four. And five... yes it's five, sir. Five letters in the solution sir, five letters-'
Morrissey: '-Luigi is five letters.'
*the artiste glances at his Patek Phillipe timepiece and takes a sip of tea*
Boz: 'L-one. U-two. I-three. G-four. I-five. So it is sir. But the first letter isn't 'L,' sir. How strange, sir. Very strange sir, you're so rarely wrong sir. I've never known anyone to complete the Daily Star crossword as quickly as you, sir-'
Morrissey: '-What letters do you have, Boz?'
Boz: 'First letter 'M,' third letter 'R,' fourth letter 'O...' No, my mistake, fifth letter 'O.' Yes, fifth letter is 'O.' This one has me stumped, sir. Stumped as a post-'
*Mikey Bracewell stares at Boz with bewilderment in his eyes and jots down what he said, carefully dotting all all 'I's and crossing all the 'T's*
Morrissey: '-the answer is Mario.'
*the seminal artiste gazes at Mikey Bracewell, smirks and rolls his eyes, scrunching up the flesh around his nasal bridge, in a fashion reminiscent of his classic 'The Culture Show' appearance*
Boz: 'I say, I say, sir. A trick question? At this time in the morning. It's just not on, sir, Not the kind of thing I'd expect of the Daily Star. The Sun p'raps but not the Star, sir. This paper's ordinarily so honest, sir. So straight-forward, tells is like it is, sir. Now occasionally when I do the Daily Star crossword in the afternoons, there's a trick question in there, but they're ordinarily so honest, sir. In the mornings, they wouldn't do that to me, sir. Not the Daily Star, sir-'
*Mikey Bracewell glances up at the seminal artiste*
Boz: 'You can't beat the Daily Star, sir. Can't beat it. It's the-'
Morrissey: 'BOZ! Shhhhhushhh.'
Mikey B: 'Boz, I think Morr-ee-say has a headache this morning. It can't be easy, Boz. Do try to show a little compassion. The entire future of pop music hinges on him. How do you think he feels in the mornings knowing that the hopes and dreams of the entire pop world are resting on his shoulders? Here Morr-ee-say, let me massage your shoulders. You are very tense this morning, very tense indeed-'
*Mikey Bracewell massages the seminal artiste's shoulders*
Morrissey: '-Down a little.'
*Mikey Bracewell massages a little lower*
Morrissey: 'Up a bit.'
*Mikey Bracewell massages a little higher*
Morrissey: 'Oh for s*dding hell's b****** sake, sit down Mikey, you're about as good at this as you are at writing novels and editing my blog page. Frankly I don't know why I'm continuing to fund your lavish lifestyle...'
*the seminal artiste glowers at Boz Boorer, who has begun clicking his blue ball-point pen with retractable nib*
Morrissey: 'That's a rather common-looking pen, Boz. Couldn't you have borrowed one of my pens for this meeting, old son? We don't want them thinking we're cheapskates...'
*the seminal artiste licks his lips*
Boz: 'Well, sir. This is one of your pens. If you remember, sir, back in the wilderness years you asked me to send off to Powerscreen mobile washing equipment to get a couple of hundred plastic pens in return for agreeing to use their pens at all future public events. It's all above board, sir. All agreed on a contractual basis, sir-'
Morrissey: 'Wilderness years, Boz? What wilderness years? I'm still right here, where I always was-'
Boz: 'Sorry sir, I meant those years when you didn't, you know, sir. Well... when you didn't, umm, well, have a record deal and all that, sir-'
Morrissey: 'Ah, you mean the quiescent phase?'
Boz: 'Indeed sir, the fluorescent phase...'
*The seminal artiste rubs his chin and shakes his head, the door flies open and two music executives enter, followed by a blonde girl in a trouser suit, carrying a clipboard; the seminal artiste nudges Boz and glares at his pen*
*Boz stands up and steps towards the music executives*
Boz: 'May I take your coat, sir?'
Boz: 'Your coat, sir - may I take it?'
Dick: 'He's not wearing a coat...'
Boz: 'I meant your... your... your hat, sir - may I take it for you?'
Aaron: I'm not wearing a hat. Thanks for the offer though.'
*Dick gazes at Morrissey's musical director and gives a pitying smile*
Morrissey: *shepherds Boz back towards his seat and mutters under his breath*
'Boz... The pen, put the pen away, you s*dding half-wit...'
*Boz puts the pen back in his pocket and sits down, the pen falls out of his pocket and he tries to pick it up. He can't quite reach. He tries again, gasping for air. He unbuttons his trousers and tries again*
Aaron Goldberg: Good morning, fellers. So it's Morrissey and-'
Mikey B: 'Morr-ee-say. It's Morr-ee-say, actually-'
Aaron: 'Morr-ee-say? Nice to meet you Morr-ee-say'
Mikey B: 'No - this is Morr-ee-say.'
Aaron: 'Nice to meet you Morr-ee-say.'
Morrissey: 'And mesmerizing to meet you too-'
*Aaron motions towards Mikey Bracewell*
Aaron: 'So who are you?'
Mikey B: 'I'm a former novelist and former webmaster to the iconic star. The name's Michael.'
Aaron: 'I see. Well pleased to meet you, Michael. And you, I suppose-' he states, gazing at Boz '-I suppose you are the butler?'
*the seminal artiste nudges Boz and laughs uncomfortably*
Morrissey: 'Yes, he's been with me for almost two decades now. Lovely chap. Very good butler. Superb at ironing shirts... well not too bad anyway. His name's Martin.'
Aaron: 'Pleased to meet you, Martin. I'm glad you haven't brought Boz and the other one, Morr-eesay, because I have a few things to say about them later. It could have been uncomfortable for them to hear what I have to say-'
Dick: 'Let's have some music in the background. I like to have music videos on in the background during negotiations. It helps me focus.'
*Dick presses a button on the remote control and switches on the 65 inch plasma screen. MTV comes on - 'All Time Whitney Top 20' - number two, I Will Always Love You.* Boz: 'Look, sir, it's Oprah!'
*a loud thud emanates from underneath the desk and Boz Boorer recoils, then huffs, puffing his cheeks out. His face grows pink in colour, a bead of sweat appears on his brow, and his eyes begin to water*
Morrissey: 'Nonsense, Martin - that's Whitney Houston. Come on now old son, let's have no racist jokes. We're all anti-racists here, old son...'
Dick: 'Tragic, isn't it?'
Morrissey: 'Oh absolutely. I cried for days. At forty-eight? Tragic.'
Dick: 'Absolutely. Aaron how are you holding up?'
Aaron: 'I'm just about coping.'
Mikey B: 'She was such a leader of her community... such an important artist from a certain point of view...'
Dick: 'Precisely. Aaron and I have been tearing ourselves up over this-'
Morrissey: 'Was she on your roster?'
Dick: 'No - that's the problem, you see. We've been wanting a dead one for a while now. Missed out on Old Whacko Jacko and before him of course there was Kurt Cobain... prime moribund musical real estate... we'd heard via the grapevine all about Whitney's premonition... yet we didn't act...'
Aaron: 'Inexcusible, really. We should have signed her up the moment we heard about her premonition. Not signing her up is a difficult decision to defend..'
Dick: 'We always miss out on the dead ones. We can't afford to let another one get away...'
*the seminal artiste rubs his jaw and appears deep in thought*
Aaron: 'Signing them dead is just not financially viable. What we really need is a star that's almost dead. A big name. Someone iconic...'
*Dick switches channels - Whitney Houston's top 10 dance tunes*
*Dick switches channels again - Whitney Vs Jacko top requests by text*
Dick: '1500% sales boost and... it's Michael Jackson all over again'
Morrissey: 'You know I've been feeling rather low recently, haven't I, Mikey?'
Mikey B: 'Oh absolutely Morr-ee-say. Most of your songs are about suicide... some would say your own tragic demise is almost inevitable... a boating accident most likely...'
Morrissey: 'This life is nothing but an unending game show... and the prize is death.'
*Aaron glances at Dick*
Aaron: 'I'm sorry to hear that, Morr-ee-say.'
Morrissey: 'Don't be. I've spent my entire life in ruins. I'm almost comfortable with despair by now. Almost. Just twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the inevitable...'
Dick: '-That's a shame because we were thinking of signing you up, Morr-ee-say...'
Aaron: 'Yes but we'd need to keep you alive for at least ten years first to grow you big enough to stand any chance of going down as an icon... I'm afraid if you died today there's just not enough interest...'
Dick: 'Yes, we'd need you to break America first... and if you're feeling suicidal, I'm afraid it's not worth the risk.'
Morrissey: 'Well, look, I'm not feeling that way inclined presently. As I always say, there's more chance of Joyce receiving his million pounds than yours truly ending it all... I've been waiting all these years for a tragic ending and it hasn't happened yet. Perhaps I just need to accept I will still be here in 2022...'
Mikey Bracewell: 'It's almost inevitable.'
Aaron: 'Well that is good news. I hate to think of you suffering... at least not in the short term...' Dick: 'Let's talk sales.'
*Boz Boorer is gazing up at the TV screen, as Whitney performs 'I Will Always Love You.' He's dabbing his eyes, which look red and watery. His upper lip quivers.*
Aaron: 'We always go back four albums with established artists...'
Dick: 'Let's start with that 90s album - what was its name?'
Morrissey: 'Hang on a minute. I can't quite remember the name. Can you Mikey?'
Mikey B: 'Absolutely not, Morr-ee-say... I'm afraid its name escapes me... that album was simply too successful for my tastes... I prefer your more obscure pieces... you are by nature anti-populist. I find such enormously successful albums undermine your reputation as a high brow artiste...' Boz: 'Maladjusted.'
*the seminal artiste glowers at Boz Boorer*
Aaron: 'Thanks, Martin. Total sales?'
*the seminal artiste sits forward, places his hands on his knees and laughs uncomfortably*
Morrissey: 'Yes... that's not an easy question to answer... it has been released at least twice... one doesn't pay too much attention to sales figures...'
Boz: '91 000. Both releases.'
*A loud thud emanates from under the desk, Boz Boorer's eyes begin watering again*
Aaron: '91 000? Are those the first week's figures? that's good for the late 90s... for a fading alternative act'
Morrissey: 'I wouldn't use the word 'fading' of course. That was back in 1997... not sure if those are first week sales figures. They could just as easily have been download figures or pre-order figures. Martin gets a little confused, you see. He's diabetic. His blood sugars are quite literally all over the shop. I'd have to check with the old record label... time for your insulin soon, Martin-'
*the seminal artiste hands Boz a tissue to mop his eyes. Boz mouths along to the chorus of 'I Will Always Love You'*
Morrissey: '-He's taken Whitney's tragic passing rather badly-'
Aaron: 'Okay, and your next album?'
Morrissey: 'The name escapes me but it sold quite literally a lot.'
Mikey B: 'Huge sales figures. Unprecedented.'
Dick: 'What year was it released?'
*Mikey Bracewell rubs his fingers and looks puzzled*
*the artiste taps his fingers on the desk and laughs softly*
Aaron: 'So what were you doing from 1997 to 2004?'
Mikey B: 'Well you see Morr-ee-say was fearful that he was becoming simply too successful around the 'Maladjusted' era. His credibility is extremely important to him, and so he decided to take a break from recording albums. What you'd be getting with Morr-ee-say is more than a mere pop singer. He is a counter-culture icon, a seminal artiste, a virtual mythological archetype... some would also argue that he's a sex symbol...'
*the seminal artiste glances at Mikey Bracewell and raises an eyebrow*
Mikey B: '... and a poet, of course. An academic recently compared him to the poet Larkin, you know...'
Dick: 'I see. So you did nothing from 1997 to 2004?'
Boz: #I hope life treats you kind...#
Morrissey: 'That's enough singing, Martin. Try to remember where we are.'
Aaron: 'No that's okay. Actually you have a good voice, Martin. Do you write songs?'
Morrissey: 'Yes, strange you should ask... Martin used to be a musician before he became my butler. He has written quite a few songs over the years.'
Aaron: 'That's good. Because we've listened to your latest album 'Years Of Refuse' and while we can see potential in the songs of Alain Whyte, who is now working with Madonna as I understand it, you also have a songwriter called - what was his name?'
Dick: 'Boz Boorer.'
Aaron: 'Boz Boorer wouldn't know a pop melody if it hit him in the face-'
Morrissey: '-Strange you mention that. I've been telling Boz for years he needs to up his game and produce some fascinating pop melodies. The days of 'Reader Meet Author' and 'Now My Heart Is Full' seem like a distant memory now. You know Boz, don't you, Martin? He used to be such a talented songsmith... used to know how to construct a pop song, back in the day-'
Boz: 'I do, sir. I know Boz well. He'll get back to those levels yet, sir. You just watch, sir-'
Aaron: '-Well if we sign you, Morr-ee-say, you'll need to fire Boz and that other one. What's his name, Dick?'
Dick: 'No idea. Jesse somethingorother'
Morrissey: 'Well I am very open-minded. Let's rule nothing in and rule nothing out at this very early stage.'
Aaron: 'But make sure you keep Alain Whyte, Morr-ee-say.'
*the artiste stares into space and blinks a bit*
Aaron: "The 80s singer Morr-ee-say, who is now working with Madonna's songwriter Alain Whyte" has a good ring to it... would sound good read out on MTV. Might win over a few fans with Whyte's credibility as Madonna's songwriter boosting your own flagging credibility...'
Morrissey: 'Yes, well, we might have to discuss this further as negotiations progress...'
*the seminal artiste dabs his brow with a lilac-coloured silk handkerchief*
Dick: 'Your next album will need to be a bit more dynamic. A bit less leaden...'
*the artiste shuffles uncomfortably on the expensively plumped up black leather office chair*
Dick: 'The deftness and subtlety of its predecessor's sound has been stamped out. Morrissey's backing band, hardly renowned for their lightness of touch at the best of times, seem more stodgy and leaden than ever: the bass is distorted, the drums thud grimly along at mid-tempo, and Ringleader of the Tormentors' beautiful orchestrations have been elbowed out. As with a lot of Morrissey's latter-day solo material, its target market appears to be people who heard the Smiths and thought: if only this stuff was less beautifully nuanced and original, a bit more ungainly and predictable, then we'd really be getting somewhere.'
Mikey B: 'Dick, Petridis is a Guardian writer-'
Mikey B: 'Quite Morr-ee-say. He's a hack. He has little credibility in the British music press. Having conspired with his Guardian and NME chums against Morr-ee-say I'm afraid he has no credibility at all when reviewing a Morr-ee-say album-'
Boz: 'He's a liar too.'
Aaron: 'You should sue, Morr-ee-say. We could help you. What did he lie about?'
Boz: 'He said 'Years of Refusal' was a parody of a Morr-ee-say record. In fact, it wasn't. It was a genuine attempt to write a pop classic, wasn't it, sir?'
Morrissey: 'He's a c*nt. Twotters constantly. Hair like Mr Bean and eyes like a New Labour cabinet minister. Honestly, you can't seriously think that review reflects the views of the music industry more broadly. 'Years of Refuse' - I mean Years of Refusal - received sterling reviews throughout Belarus and Portugal. Why focus on the Guardian? It's a spell-binding album in parts. There's a wonderful guitar solo on that one... the one... that one that sounds a bit like 'Swallow On My Neck'...'
Boz: 'Black Cloud, sir.'
*the seminal artiste nods and closes his eyes solemnly*
Aaron: 'Now, changing topic, this is not easy for me to say but...'
*Aaron adopts a serious expression, rubs his forehead and frowns slightly*
Aaron: 'Another problem is that our focus group analyses show that you're just not very current,
Morr-ee-say. I think we need a collaboration to enhance your credibility...'
Morrissey: 'There's Nancy Sinatra or there's Damian Dempsey-'
Dick: 'We were thinking Lil Wayne or perhaps Soulja Boy-'
Morrissey: 'Well I have some hispanics in my band if that helps...'
Aaron: 'Any facial tattoos?'
*the seminal artiste gazes at Boz Boorer*
Boz: 'I don't think they have facial tattooes, sir. I could double-check next time I see them.'
*the seminal artiste frowns*
Morrissey: 'But let's not rule out my hispanic musicians getting facial tattoos...'
Dick: 'Facial tattoos are very current. You need to work with someone with a facial tattoo.' Morrissey: Well let's reflect on that, let's bear it in mind.
Boz: 'I don't think a star as big as Morrissey-'
*the seminal artiste nudges Boz*
Boz: '-I don't think a star as big as Morr-ee-say needs to collaborate. He recently completed a very extensive leisure centre tour of the United States and sold out every venue-'
Aaron: 'It's a shame we couldn't get Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga on board for a duet...'
Mikey B: 'It just so happens Lady Gaga is a huge fan of Morr-ee-say. She actually told him he was the one who 'taught me how.'
Morrissey: 'Whatever that means...'
Dick: 'This is good news. How would you feel about going techno, Morr-ee-say?'
Morrissey: 'Let's not rule anything out-'
Aaron: 'We could go with some shirtless backing dancers too. That always works well.'
Dick: 'Works every time. Madonna, Gaga, Britney...'
Morrissey: 'I am perfectly happy to remove my shirt. In front of perfect strangers, if necessary...'
*Aaron and Dick exchange a glance*
Sarah: 'We generally use younger men, perhaps around twenty-five.'
*the seminal artiste opens the CD box in front of him, and takes out the sleevenotes. He unfolds them carefully at a marked page and places them in the centre of the desk, pushing them towards Aaron and Dick*
Aaron: 'Would you consider shirtless backing dancers, Morr-ee-say?'
*the seminal artiste's eyes fall upon the sleevenotes in the centre of the desk, he makes eye contact with Sarah, and his eyes linger before returning to the sleevenotes*
*Sarah picks up the sleevenotes and hands them on to Dick and Aaron*
Sarah: 'You've a remarkably well-maintained body.'
Morrissey: 'You're not the first person to say so-'
Aaron: 'As well-maintained as you are, we do always issue advice to our artists not to go shirtless once they've hit twenty-six. Even with Marky-Mark and Justin Timberlake. It's considered a turn-off by the public-'
Morrissey: 'With all due respect, you haven't seen the scenes in the mosh pit when I do a bit of the old shirt-removal antics-'
Dick: 'This fat one looks a bit like you, Martin-'
Morrissey: 'Yes that's actually Boz Boorer - Martin's brother. What I could do in the interests of artistic development is sack Boz Boorer as musical director and hire Martin Boorer in his place. Would you be interested, Martin? Since these music executives have correctly observed your musical talent while singing a Whitney classic-?'
Boz: 'Yes, sir. Thank you very much sir. Thank you.'
Aaron: 'It's good to see you're flexible, Morr-ee-say. Some of these older artists-'
*the seminal artiste licks his lips*
Aaron: 'Some of these more experienced artists are a bit rigid. Stuck in a rut. But clearly you are the exception. All we need to do now is to fire Jesse whatshisname, find you a facially tattooed artist to work with and get Lady Gaga on board for some input, get you a bit of a make-over, possibly some plastic surgery, put you on a diet and set up a spontaneous 'social media' thing so your new fans can 'discover' you on YouTube and Facebook.'
Morrissey: 'As it happens, we already have a blog and twotter-'
Boz: 'He's doing very well. Over 5000 followers.'
Aaron: '5000 followers per day or per week? That's a problem you see. Bieber's getting 5000 per day.'
Boz: 'Total. 5000 total. he's doing very well is Moz. very well indeed. Zero to 5000 in little over six months...'
Aaron: 'I see. Well I think that's enough for now, Morr-ee-say - don't call us, we'll call you...'
*the music executives guide Morrissey towards the door*
Sarah: 'And we always say to our candidates, don't worry, there's always something out there... even if it's The X Factor.'
Boz: 'He's already applied. They don't take people who were once famous.'
*the seminal artiste scowls at Boz and reaches over to slap him but Mikey Bracewell pulls them apart*
Morrissey: 'Do you still have the number for Santuary, Mikey?'