‘There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more,’ Morrissey’s sinuous voice once teased. Well, it’s possible for Morrissey to be wrong once in his life because he never cracked open Simon Goddard’s Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and the Smiths (Plume Books, 2010).
The Mozipedia is a special kind of reference book: the kind devoted to everything Morrissey and the Smiths. Its writer, Simon Goddard, is the acclaimed author of The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life, a book that dissects every single Smiths track and analyzes it from all conceivable angles: from creation and critical reception, to song meaning, and beyond. It is a book that succeeds in piecing together each individual masterpiece to demonstrate how it fits into the Smiths’ glorious oeuvre, confirming their position as one of the most influential rock groups from the past century. Songs That Saved Your Life is still the most comprehensive Smiths reference book on the market, but, until now, there was no similar study of the art and influence of Morrissey’s long solo career.
With his book, Goddard rectifies this oversight. The Mozipedia is a treasure chest of Moz and Smiths arcana spanning from the earliest interviews (and pre-dating Morrissey’s musical fame while he was still an aspiring writer making a name for himself as a strange specter in the local Manchester scene) through the latest news available prior to publication. The information in Goddard’s authoritative periodical was culled directly from primary sources including written, audio, and video interviews, as well as personal interviews that he conducted with everyone who has been in Morrissey’s own circle, except for the man himself. He astutely reviews every Smiths track from a broader perspective which does not render his earlier book obsolete. Besides entries for every single song ever recorded (and a few that probably weren’t), Goddard has entries for every person, place, or thing that has had an influence on Morrissey’s life, including musical collaborators and musicians through favorite writers, books, actors, films, haunts, and other obsessions that might help the reader understand how the mind of this brilliant man came to be. As far as this reviewer can say, no stone remains unturned. What results is the single greatest book on the topic of Morrissey that has been published so far (until the long-promised publication of Morrissey’s memoirs he has been teasing fans with for over a decade). This large volume is a labor of love that belongs on the bookshelves of fans who share the author’s intense passion for Morrissey. It’s an enlightening look into the life of a public enigma, only whetting one’s appetite to know this strange creature even more intimately. Whether you’re interested in his thirty years’ contribution to great music, how the legacy of Morrissey and the Smiths fit into modern culture, or understanding one of the most outspoken yet impenetrable personas of the past quarter century, Mozipedia is an essential reference point. Morrissey is, after all, the last truly important British person you will ever know.