A Morrissey Devotion: Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning
Words about Morrissey, the reflexive urge to deploy highly specific nodes of terminology. Phrases such as structure, depth, precisely paced, they clamour for inclusion, a direct symptom of a poetic narrative. There’s an astonishing amount of craft and guile to the construction of a Morrissey song – it’s present in the lyrics, but just as importantly, it’s also there in the composition. This is as indisposable as pop music gets, and a major motive for this being a music blog, rather than the plodding coverage of figure skating or deep sea diving or of ladies who’ve inexplicably forgotten to wear any clothes for the photo shoot.
Ignore the fact that I’ve mentioned this before; the primary cause for such affinity with Vauxhall And I is the emotive imagery layered across almost every song. It’s the aural equivalent of a photograph album from a long-lost era. Such sepia-tinged glamour – not the glamour of the Louise Brooks variety (although as the photograph that accompanies this post will attest, hers was beauty of a bewitching kind); rather, the scenes and poses that Morrissey’s lyrics conjurer rely upon an enigmatic, sensual quality, frequently (and intentionally) slipping towards the suburban yet always inviting – as a listener you want to peek behind the scenery, sneak off into the wings of the stage.
Thus ‘Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning’. It was only a test, but she swam too far against the tide – she deserves all she gets. A song both dreamy and delicately paced, centred upon a refined and melancholic clarinet part that leads the mood to the very edge of the waves. A song that plays around with metaphor, with the empathetic positioning (a typical Morrissey trait, that) – the result is a track slyly elegant. Please don’t worry, there’ll be no fuss, she was… nobody’s nothing. That in itself makes an intriguing statement, but the next stanza is a wonderfully graceful piece of narrative dexterity: When he awoke the sea was calm and another day passes like a dream.
Morrissey / Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning