#23: Morrissey –Speedway (1994)
“Devious, truculent and unreliable”, declared the High Court Judge, identifying certain traits of character that undermined the integrity of Morrissey’s evidence. Mike Joyce won the case, a redistribution of Smiths royalties that need not concern us here – for you know what? I’m deeply enamoured with Steven Patrick’s devious and truculent unreliability. It’s one of the aspects that elevates his catalogue to such overwhelming levels of enticement – it’s not enough that his lyrics are clever and poetic, or that both Boorer and Whyte’s compositions so elegantly resonate against the sentiment; it’s how that sentiment is positioned that implicitly attracts. The agility behind each strand of wordplay, each filament of evocation. Tracks that celebrate their inherent deviousness, their truculence, the unreliable narration.
And nowhere will you find this judicial statement exemplified more convincingly than on ‘Speedway’, Vauxhall And I’s immense, monumental finalé. A motorcycle revs, seguing into the guitar’s intimate sweep – chords that draw you forward, hints of the menacing, the haunting. And then the vocal: All of the rumours keeping me grounded. I never said, I never said that they were completely unfounded. There are parallels with the album’s initial track here; an opening line built upon the enigmatic, the intriguing.
And perhaps that’s the point with ‘Speedway’; a delicious record that continually ramps up the momentum, climbing (in both music and words) to a what can only be described as a dénoument:
I could have mentioned your name.
I could have dragged you in,
Guilt by implication.
By association, I’ve always been true to you.
In my own strange way, I’ve always been true to you.
In my own sick way, I’ll always stay true to you.
A suggestion of confession, of a highly deliberate positioning of words against the grinding gears of instrumentation. This is a song that wraps you up in its sly intensity, seamed with all that makes Morrissey such a button presser. This is the only way Vauxhall And I could have climaxed – with a bang, one huge fucking wow.
Morrissey / Speedway
The arrival at the final installation of LGM’s Morrissey shrine. If you’ve enjoyed this series even half as much as I have writing it, then we can all offer ourselves hearty congratulations. And if you’re not a fan of the album, I hope that this has pushed you towards a re-evaluation – for as the gentleman himself said of Vauxhall And I when released: “Yes, it is a beautiful record and I set out that it should be so.” Exactly.