Outside!

The Guardian carries a gushing report of Johnny Marr’s inaugural lecture as visiting professor of music at Salford university:

Over 1,000 students and members of the public listened to the musician talk about ‘outsiders’ in the music industry.

The last time Johnny performed at the university’s Maxwell hall was with the Smiths in 1986 – an event he described as ‘an amazing gig’. The speakers had to be tied down because the floor was bouncing so much.

On the day American voters chose Barack Obama as their president-elect, Marr argued that ‘in an age of stifling conservatism, outsiders need to be cherished’.

I think there must have been a new command installed in the word processors of national journalists that reads ‘tenuous link to Barack Obama’.

A friend of mine went to this lecture, titled ‘Always from the outside: mavericks, innovators and building your own ark,’ and his view was very different.

He described an arrogant, incoherent, delusional idiot delivering repetitive platitudes for what seemed like hours on end.

Example: ‘Everyone thinks that in the music industry there’s this room full of white light that you gotta get into… that’s bullshit, right, because all the best musicians come from OUTSIDE. The Beatles – OUTSIDE. Paul McCartney – OUTSIDE. Jimi Hendrix – OUTSIDE. Kurt Cobain – OUTSIDE. Bob Marley – OUTSIDE. Sex Pistols – OUTSIDE.’

Imagine this in a fake, over-the-top Manc accent. And lasting fifty minutes.

According to my friend, Marr wrapped up this ‘speech’ by saying ‘Do what you want, and be fucking great – like me.’

But it wasn’t over – there was a Q + A. An aspiring musician had travelled up from London to see Marr. She’d brought along a demo tape and told Marr that her music had been inspired by Smiths lyrics. Could Marr have a listen to it?

Marr’s response: ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll sort it out – OUTSIDE…’

Now, I never liked the Smiths but I’m sure Marr’s a competent musician who can teach students a lot about singing and playing. Yet isn’t it depressing that a thousand people took the time, some of them travelling to Salford from other cities, to listen to a man who so blatantly has nothing to say? And that reporters feel the need to write sycophantic, star-fucked pieces about it?

This is a freeloading, egotistical moron, whose only talent is to make huge amounts of money by producing bland, miserabilist landfill indie that has straightjacketed Manchester’s music scene for three decades. To mention his name in the same sentence as Barack Obama, a hardworking, inspirational politician, is nothing short of shameful.

I am sick and tired of the unblinking reverence in this city for irritating has-beens like Johnny Marr, Morrissey and John Robb. What is Salford uni playing at?

Mind, the university also offers degrees in complementary and alternative ‘medicine’. Perhaps, in these dark economic times, Salford is setting up a job creation scheme for quacks and frauds.

Update: And if you think I’m alone here listen to another eyewitness account from novelist Ray Robinson:

I was massively disappointed by Marr’s lecture. It was, on the whole, repetitive bullshit. I’m not sure how much he got paid, but it was too much. The least he could do was actually consider what he was going to talk about. It’s complete arrogance to think you can just walk into a lecture theatre and spout a load of shite to a thousand people. I wish I had kept a tally of the amount of times he used the word ‘outside’. After ten minutes, I was dying to get outside that fucking lecture theatre.

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18 Responses to “Outside!”

  1. scott Says:

    “I am sick and tired of the unblinking reverence in this city for irritating has-beens like Johnny Marr, Morrissey and John Robb.”

    well said.

  2. Rachel Fox Says:

    You could just move…

  3. maxdunbar Says:

    As Clinton Tyree said, ‘it would be like running out on a dying friend.’

  4. Ray Robinson Says:

    I was massively disappointed by Marr’s lecture. It was, on the whole, repetitive bullshit. I’m not sure how much he got paid, but it was too much. The least he could do was actually consider what he was going to talk about. It’s complete arrogance to think you can just walk into a lecture theatre and spout a load of shite to a thousand people. I wish I had kept a tally of the amount of times he used the word ‘outside’. After ten minutes, I was dying to get outside that fucking lecture theatre.

  5. maxdunbar Says:

    Thanks Ray – next time you’re in Salford, give us a shout and we’ll get a pint

  6. neil campbell Says:

    I agree with much of this (though i didn’t go to the lecture). I don’t know how he got the job, but I’m sure he didn’t buy the Times Higher. He probably knows how this bullshit works (for his sake I hope so) and is probably doing it for the same reason johnny rotten advertises butter. It’s corporate manchester (and salford) that uses these people now. He’s a really good guitarist who was in a long defunct band that still brings people to manchester (and salford)

  7. maxdunbar Says:

    Yeah, I appreciate that he still needs to pay the rent.

    But so many people still worship these guys and don’t realise that their days of talent are long behind them and that all they really do now is promote tourist-board Mancunia.

  8. Huck Shandy Says:

    According to Johnny Marr in preparation for his lecturing he kept asking himself what knowledge would have really helped him during the different stadiums of his musical development; and that´s the knowledge he now wants to pass on. The subjects will be such as production and studio work, as well as the mechanisms of the music industry; there will be lectures & workshops. That doesn´t sound as if he arrogantly never even thought about the speech he wanted to deliver.
    Maybe he is a better guitarist and composer than lecturer, but I don´t see the reason to put him down that much.
    This review was in no way convincing, it sounded as if it was written by someone with a personal grudge against Johnny Marr. Or against Johnny Marr´s success.

    By the way, that one person or even two think this lecture was really bad, doesn´t mean that everybody with a different opinion is wrong or a sycophant. Different people have different tastes & opinions, you know…

  9. Michelle Says:

    “Do what you want, and be fucking great – like me.”

    What a prat!

    I do like the label “star-fucker” though.

  10. maxdunbar Says:

    Huck

    I didn’t go to this lecture or even know that it was taking place. As I said, the post is based on my friend’s impressions of the lecture. These were backed up by Ray above and both of these views differ from the gush in the mainstream press.

    Maybe he will be a good teacher, but I’m reliably informed that his lecture was appalling.

    I appreciate that people may disagree with me on this.

    Did you go to the lecture Huck?

    Michelle

    The star-fucker thing was directed at the Guardian writer rather than Marr – in a way Marr is not the problem so much as the people who still take him seriously.

  11. neil campbell Says:

    re: ‘stadiums of development’, by the sounds of it he should be lecturing at Droylsden F.C.
    But fandom is such that he probably could have talked out of his arse and inspired

  12. Huck Shandy Says:

    Hi maxdunbar.
    No, I didn´t go to the lecture either & can´t pass any judgement on it. Nor do I want to. I don´t mind criticism of the lecture or that your friend didn´t like it.
    I just prefer criticism that doesn´t call the object of the review names, but instead gives me rational, valuable reasons why something wasn´t any good. I found that lacking in your review. But no offence meant.

    neil campbell, what Johnny Marr said might have sounded a bit crooked because I translated it from a non-English review & English isn´t my native language. I´m sure he used better words & should be allowed to at least lecture at Manchester United.

  13. maxdunbar Says:

    Okay Huck, to spell it out: from what I hear the ‘lecture’ was basically just repetitive platitudes.

  14. maxdunbar Says:

    Okay Huck, to spell it out: from what I hear the ‘lecture’ was basically just repetitive platitudes. That’s why a couple of us are criticising it.

    To find positive views on the lecture, just go to the national press/NME.

  15. Tess Says:

    My impression of Johnny Marr is he has been so sucked up to by journalists throughout his career until he has totally lost his perspective. Everything he does is wonderful. He doesn’t the criticism most musicians get because Morrissey is the bigger target.

  16. maxdunbar Says:

    Tess, very good point

  17. Jo Lescott Says:

    It’s really easy to criticize that’s for sure

  18. maxdunbar Says:

    Easy and a lot of fun.

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