Friday, 1 May 2009

The Band That Saved His Life: An Interview with Simon Goddard

Simon Goddard, author of The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life and the soon to be published Mozipedia offers his perspectives on music, life in general and how it changed forever.


 My first proper emotional Smiths memory would have been about February 1984. I was 12. It was a Sunday night and I was dreading going to school the next morning. I heard What Difference Does It Make? On the radio and the sound of the music and the terror in Morrissey’s falsetto singing at the end struck a chord,” Simon Goddard recollects;  “From that point forth they became the soundtrack to my teenage anxiety, and later my teenage euphoria. It was less a case of me choosing The Smiths as The Smiths choosing me. Whoever was to blame, they chose well.”


Simon, a music journalist, who occasionally likes to write about other ‘stuff’ as he likes to call it, has dedicated the majority of his life researching, writing, and loving The Smiths. His attention to detail is remarkable. For example, in The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life he details and encapsulates a fascinating picture of one of the 1980’s most influential bands through detailed analysis of their songs and recording sessions. 

With Songs that Saved your Life on its third revised and expanded edition, now, seems like the right time for a new exploration into all things Smiths related, “Mozipedia is my way of correcting the mistakes in the old book and starting again on a bigger canvass”, Simon explains, “The mixing of The Smiths with solo Morrissey in one volume is initially something I resisted and at first I was going to isolate everything in a sequel book in 2004 to be called More Songs Than They Can Stand. But the years pass, the goal posts shift, the heart softens and here we are with Mozipedia.”


Mozipedia, which Simon describes as, “An insane book and an insane task,” places great focuses on Morrissey alongside anecdotes about the rest of the band. It documents everything Simon has collected over the years - every song, every album, and every co-writer. Moz’s favourite films, records and authors and snippets about food, sex and tea, compacted into a single volume.  “The intention allows the reader can form their own picture of Morrissey by dipping in and joining whatever dots they wish.” Simon explains.   “It was either ‘throw it all in the skip’ or ‘throw it all in a book’ and, for my sins, I chose the latter.”


Two years down the line (“A self-imposed sentence, unlike poor beloved Oscar” Simon chuffs). Mozipedia is ready. When asked if he feels close to Morrissey, Simon admits,  “So close that if I were him I’d take out an astral restraining order.”



Having partaken in this major Smiths pilgrimage, where does the “quest” take him now? “If it is “a quest” then I think Mozipedia is the end. I’m getting near forty and there’s a lot of life to live. The Smiths taught me enough not to spend my forties and beyond watching the same films, listening to the same records and reading the same books I read when I was sixteen.”


To Simon, The Smiths are a “triumph of art and beauty.” Will there ever be another band like them? “Put it this way: Do you think there has been or ever will be a painter like Van Gogh again? Do you think there has been or ever will be a writer like Dickens again?” he asks in all seriousness. “There’s your answer, Van Gogh. Dickens. Beethoven. The Smiths. That was the whole point of The Smiths: to prove that pop music is as serious and valid an art form as any other. Their legacy rests upon it". 

Mozipedia is published on 9th August 2009 through Ebury Press


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