Maladjusted can be read many ways. If you know enough nonsense, interpretation can be open to all sorts of possibilities. Fortunately, I've immersed myself into the world of conspiracy theories and maintained both my sanity and (hopefully) my critical capabilities, so I am aware that what I suggest here is nothing certain.
The Hidden Hand gesture on the cover of Alma Matters is well documented. The, perhaps inadvertent, Freemason-related triangle and circle that can be seen on the Roy's Keen cover has already been mentioned in a previous blob post. But, these are all visual references. Morrissey's key trade is lyricism, so here I'm going to explore some outlandishly flimsy interpretations of his Maladjusted-era lyrics.
Recorded in the immediate aftermath of Judge Weeks' Goat-affirming judgement and his devious character assassination of Morrissey, it's quite clear that Morrissey has deeply hurt, angry and traumatized. Much of the album can be seen in this context. But the writing process is open to many influences and, thanks to the MW phenomenon, we know that Morrissey is into conspiracy theories (and, much to the bemusement of the uninitiated masses, confirmed recently on TTY). So, if his knowledge of such matters influenced his cover art of Maladjusted's singles, so it might have been a factor in his choice of words, consciously or otherwise. Let's take a lOOk.
But first, we have to start before the beginning
The Hidden Eye gestures in Morrissey's cover art go back to his second solo single, so such influences predate Maladjusted. Then there's that two-handed 6 gesture from Smiths days. This esoteric knowledge may have been the result of deep and vulgar conversations and of his intense study of popular music culture. Maybe, he'd been introduced or approached.
How do pop stars become involved? I don't know if it's even real or a just a mythic pop music trope, but it's often been said that pop stars have to sell their souls the Devil to gain success
When pop stars say they've sold their soul to the Devil, are they speaking literally or figuratively? Are singers simply saying that they give their all for success and wealth in a mutually nihilistic deal with capitalist corporations? For all those Hidden Eye pop stars to be in on some secret knowledge or secret society, to be part of a Satanic or Illuminati or MKUltra conspiracy, they must at some stage be introduced, seduced or blackmailed and inducted to be controlled, brainwashed, appropriated or co-opted. Fortunately, Morrissey's Irish blood, English heart is maladjusted to selling his soul to Satan for fatal fame. As we know, Satan rejected his soul. But, he may be been tempted or involved before the rejection, like going from indie label Rough Trade to Big Four label EMI.
For our purposes here it doesn't matter if the claimed conspiracy is real or not. This is about Morrissey's experiences and understanding of the world, real or imagined, or merely played with as an artistic influence.
I'm sitting at my rinky dinky computer thingy (over several days and nights) about to spin you an improbable yarn about one of Maladjusted's "collection of unpopular themes": Morrissey's brush with the music industry's Satanic conspiracy.
Are you ready? Get the sound of the Redux version into your ears:
However much I love the title track, I can't really see any hidden messages in it (other than SW6, a post code with the number of the Devil, but that's pretty flimsy, so please ignore this aside). So, I'll let this pass on to the Redux version's second track,
Morrissey lists this song as one of those from the album that makes him "swell with pride" (the others being Trouble Loves Me, Alma Matters and Wide to Receive - see Autobiography, pg 342). Here's where things get spooky.
Bolt-lock your doors
alarm your cars
and still we move in closer
top of the list
is your smiling kids
but we'll be smiling too
so that's OK
I always through that this song was about pedophiles, but I'm about to argue that it goes deeper than that. The threat to safe and stable homes here isn't entirely physical, as it can penetrate past your locked doors and target your kids. How? "Top of the list" gives a hint. Britain's most watched and influential pop music show from 1964 to 2006 was Top of The Pops (TOTP). There's two associations with TOTP that come to mind. The most obvious is that its was often presented by notorious pedophile Sir Jimmy Savile, who broke through the domestic barriers by way of several radio and television programs. People have already linked Panic with Savile (and by extension, the British monarchy), but I'm reading a similar interpretation into Ambitious Outsiders.
Although his nefarious activities only became public knowledge well after this song was recorded, they were an "open secret" in his lifetime, as witnessed by Half Man, Half Biscuit's I Left My Heart In Papworth General from 1985. Yet, he was awarded an OBE the Queen in 1971 and was knighted by her in 1990. He had friends in high places, including the hated Margaret Thatcher, who recommended him for the knighthood and who covered-up a pedophile ring of the British elite with the assistance of senior UK police and security officers: Your taxes paid, but police waylaid.
That certainly fits with a theme of the lyrics, but let's go deeper. As a music program, TOTP brought more than Jimmy Savile beyond your bolted doors. It played the Devil's music and introduced everyone from Adam Faith to The Zutons to a young and impressionable audience. TOTPs was where you could go each week to watch and hear it in your living room with the family. Enriched with visuals, it would often be a more compelling experience than hearing the same songs on the radio. Was it an in-joke referring to Savile's reputation as a witch that the TOTP theme tune between 1986 and 1991 as Paul Hardcastle's horrible The Wizard? Sometimes words have two meanings, or more, and so these lines could be a double reference to TOTP's seduction.
Intermission: here's a typical moment of moral peril from TOTP.
keeping the population down
Killing kiddies, like in List of the Lost? But that's one at a time, with even the alleged Royal Satanic pedophile ring that included Savile having little real impact on capping population growth. I always thought it was an odd line, but it's even how the song ends: We're just keeping the population down. The other related population conspiracy is that the British Royal family is attempting to depopulate the Earth through the World Wildlife Fund (but apparently doing a really bad job at it). This ties in with Morrissey's hatred of the Royals and the later, infamous Monarchy is Anarchy TTY post and Prince Philip's 1986 extinction level event virus quote.
We're on your street,
you don't see us
or, if you do
you smile and say Hello
This is Evil hidden in plain sight (a common conspiracy theory trope) and cloaked in the banal respectability of the British Establishment.
The irony is, of course, is that the ambitious outsiders are actually the ultimate insiders.
Trouble Loves Me
To the Blue Rose Society, this is "our song" when sung live. It was one of the four pointed to with pride in Autobiography.The narrative of internal struggle reminds me of the Faust legend, where Faust sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for knowledge and earthly pleasures (on the flesh rampage... go to waste in the wrong arms). It's a story of a deal with the Devil, the kind that is referred to by a figure of speech or a description of an occult reality by many pop stars in order to gain success (see above).
Although it strikes me more as a personal reflection than a jibe at anyone or anything else, it is addressed to his (passive) better companion. Good and Evil. I am two people. Life is a pigsty: and once again I turn to you... I can't reach you anymore. Removed from God's help, but still subjected to Satan's or Mephistopheles' attention, who seeks and finds me. A metaphor, of course. Or, so my rationalist skeptical nature assumes, but Morrissey does believe in ghosts and I don't, so what would I know?
While the deal may not have been sealed, Morrissey is lost in his own purgatory between Heaven and Hell.
Here's a quote from Goethe's Faust to ponder and align with the lyrics of Trouble Loves Me and other songs from the Maladjusted Redux:
You are aware of only one unrest;
Oh, never learn to know the other!
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And one is striving to forsake its brother.
Unto the world in grossly loving zest,
With clinging tendrils, one adheres;
The other rises forcibly in quest
Of rarefied ancestral spheres.
If there be spirits in the air
That hold their sway between the earth and sky,
Descend out of the golden vapors there
And sweep me into iridescent life.
Oh, came a magic cloak into my hands
To carry me to distant lands,
I should not trade it for the choicest gown,Nor for the cloak and garments of the crown.
You’ll ne’er attain it, save you know the feeling,
Save from the soul it rises clear,
Serene in primal strength, compelling
The hearts and minds of all who hear.
You sit forever gluing, patching;
You cook the scraps from others’ fare;
And from your heap of ashes hatching
A starveling flame, ye blow it bare!
Take children’s, monkeys’ gaze admiring,
If such your taste, and be content;
But ne’er from heart to heart you’ll speak inspiring,
Save your own heart is eloquent!
Wasted as a B-side, this grand ballad is rightfully elevated to the album in the Redux.
Jet trails in the sky
leave one word behind
a hand bangs into sand
and we all understand
but they're pretending they're not lost
Beautiful imagery, but what does it mean? The jet trails is often taken as a reference to Joni Mitchell's equally wondrous Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, which uses the phrase (and also references the occult with the lines like the serpent cannot be denied). In Autobiography, Morrissey notes that jet trails can be seen from Hook End Manor, where Maladjusted was recorded. An unusual point to mention. And, why get upset and name at floating condensation? And whose name, anyway?
Let's see a bigger quote from Joni's song:
Over virgin wilderness
It prowls like hookers and thieves
Through bolt locked tenements
Behind my bolt locked door
The eagle and the serpent are at war in me
The serpent fighting for blind desire
The eagle for clarity
Recognize some familiar words and themes here? Maladjusted's thieves hours and working girls like me, Ambitious Outsider's bolt-lock your doors, the inner tussle of Trouble Loves Me? If nothing else, Moz owes Joni a fair bit on Maladjusted. Joni might owe something to Goethe, too.
But back to Lost and those jet trails,
To quote from Goethe's Faust again:
Once I blazed across the sky,
Leaving trails of flame;
I fell to earth, and here I lie -
Ah, the glories of the past. It's a theme that permeates Maladjusted-era songs. So, another possible reference point, but let's get wackier.
The chemtrail conspiracy came to note about a year or two before Maladjusted was recorded. Chemtrail conspiracy theorists claim (usually with hysterical alarm) that They are using airliners to disperse bad chemicals, which we see as persistent contrails. There's some disagreement about which chemicals and to what ends, which vary from geo-engineering, mind control and our new acquaintance, depopulation. Curiously, there's even a theory that connects chemtrails with Morgellons, a controversial skin disease that Joni Mitchell experiences. Jigsaw, jigsaw, jigsaw.
Could Lost be, in part, a response to concerns about the alleged chemtail conspiracy, which was being spread through the new alternative media of the World Wide Web? Of course, Morrissey would never do something as vulgar as be an early adopter of the WWW, but he gives us the most minuscule wink that he might have been in the Maladjusted album track, Wide To Receive.
Flimsy I know, just like the chemtrail theory itself, but we like that around here.
Ride our minds
if you must
Simple words, but could these lines be flimsily be seen as a mention of the MKUltra/Monarch music industry mind control conspiracy that brainwashes a pop stars when they sell their soul to the Wicked One for fatal fame?
oh you don't know the power
in what you're saying
If we are to accept the occult, then we must accept that the words used to recite spells and ritually summons forth demons and whatnot are powerful.
From Mr G's Faust:
Dear me! how long is art!
And short is our life!
From Mr M's He Cried:
time is short
don't be cruel
Yes, I am suggesting a narrative where Morrissey was maladjusted to the conspirator's cause, be They be the Elite, the Establishment, the Illuminati, Satan, whatever. Just as there is a sense of lost glories, so there is a feeling of impeding doom throughout the maladjusted-era songs. These are things that are difficult (and dangerous) to publicly express, even for big mouth Morrissey, requiring allusions in lyrics, hints on cover art, interview rants about radio airplay and so on. It's that or be dismissed by all and sundry (excepting a few nutty conspiracy theorists) as touched.
So, the choice I have made
may seem strange to you
but who asked you anyway?
it's my life
my own way
What choice? May I suggest that it was Morrissey's choice not to enter into a pact with the Devil to further his career; or, was it his decision to leave it and struggle on alone? Was he thrown out? I dunno, I'm just a librarian from Frankston. Either way, his choice spells ruin.
Because to someone somewhere
body and soul
in part and in hole
Clearly a play on the phrase alma mater, a reference to the a school you graduated from and its community students. This could easily be a reference to the Joyce Goat's determination to be counted as a full, true Smith. Or just the importance of being from Stretford.
It may also be a reference to alumni networks such those formed around the old school tie and reflected in Freemasonry and supposed Illuminati-linked organisations, such as the Skull and Crossbones fraternity and Bohemian Lodge. Then there's the Helen Earth Drag and Supper Club that protects List of the Lost's child murderer, Dean Isaac.
Or the networks of kinship and shared interests that form around the minds, bodies, souls and bloodlines of the 13 Illuminati families?
I leave what the hole might be to your imagination.
Digest this lot, leave a gracious comment about my loss of critical thinking capabilities and come back for part two at a later date.
Why couldn't I have done this with Southpaw Gramma? Less songs, you see.