Linder: Morrissey's Catalyst In England Is Mine


DETROIT - The film "England Is Mine" chronicles the early years of Stephen Patrick Morrissey from the British band The Smiths. The film, directed by Mark Gill, looks at the early formative teenage years of the reclusive rock star. It is filled with interesting people who would be future leaders in the music landscape, like Billy Duffy of The Cult and Johnny Marr. Another figure who would be prominent in the arts is Linder Sterling. She coaxes young Stephen to crawl out of his shell and live an uncensored life..... but who was she?

Linder is an interesting gal pal to Stephen because she is his polar opposite. She sees the artist in him and prompts him to live uncensored. In the film, she encourages him to be who he is and to be vocal. Linder has the dedication to be an established artist and to leave Manchester for London. Her collages are edgy and combine clippings from nudie magazines mixed with household appliances. This artwork gets featured on The Buzzcock's 45 single "Orgasm Addict".

There is no doubt that she is a major influence. Morrissey cannot allow himself to express any real feelings for her. In a recent issue of Rolling Stone Morrissey admits being ambiguous about his relationship to women. This was the case during his tenure with The Smiths citing the reason for keeping the thematic range open-ended. The emotions were for all people and not just one certain class. The Smiths had many deep human drama themes in their music ranging from jealousy, murder, self-hate, death, envy, rage, one-sided love, remorse, and manic highs.

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Morrissey admits that when it came to sharing personal feelings for another person, he ran around the corner. He chose a celibate life and pushed his artistry and created a strong solo career once The Smiths disbanded. His ambiguity shows up in the film "England Is Mine".

If the story told on screen is accurate one has to wonder where he fits in with Linder? She is too cool for him and aware of what is going on in the world. She is very social and has many friends. Stephen’s world in comparison is very limited, enclosed, and isolated. It appears that Stephen has some feelings for her and values her opinion very much.

After she leaves for London he takes note of one of his early band reviews. The newspaper gets his last name wrong and refers to him as Morrison. This may be the reason why Stephen chose to go by one name which is Morrissey. It was distinctive and memorable. It had character and made him stand out which is what Linder was all about.

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She lays a heavy impression on his mind. After he takes a job in a hospital his mother asks young Morrissey if he will travel to London to see her. He sulks and walks away from the table. Morrissey is never vocal about it but he feels some attachment and has strong feelings regarding her. Is this love? Could that happen to this introverted poet?

What eventually wins out is Morrissey's self-devotion to his music, poetry, lyrics, and inner thoughts. Instead of becoming a romancer, he delivers words of great emotional depth to the people. He is a prolific performer and becomes iconic despite his shyness. His truth baring lyrics ring true to a lot of people around the world. Morrissey has found his calling.

Now would he have been able to write about all of those introverted subjects had he been in love and happy with Linder... or anyone? Would the audience have gotten the large prolific body of work from 1980 to the present day? Would there have ever been The Smiths? Or was Morrissey more attracted to self-absorption and his isolation?

A recent interview with Linder in the Guardian is somewhat eye-opening. One cannot help but notice that she too brands herself by one name. Maybe all she really wanted to do was help him stand on his own two feet and be undefiant in his own skin. If that was her part then she truly has given the world a gift for helping Morrissey find the strength to be himself. She is an important figure in his life and a strong artistic force. She leaves an indelible impression on his overall being. Without her influence in spirit, written word, and artistic perserverance Morrissey might have turned out a different way.

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She points out the importance of being himself instead of leaning on quips from Shakesphere or Oscar Wilde. Morrissey is powerful on his own. She gives him the nightmare vision of not living up to his potential. She mocks his job by writing his epitath on his tombtone, "he worked in a tax office... and licked stamps.... efficiently." It is enough to get his wheels turning. There is an attraction there and he is afraid of losing her. We can see that in his body language when he asks about her upcoming trip to London "When are you coming back?"

Overall there is a temptation to be himself and to be powerful. Fame grabs Morrissey quick. The Smiths influence over the English post-punk scene is nothing short of a revelation. In 1980, The Smiths were on the rise on the BBC and on the John Peel show. There were a student favorite and in very short time the band put out a lot of music very quickly. There were singles, 33 long plays, dance remixes, and they were touring and getting lots of press. In less than five years they were a household name.

This type of attention must have been pretty powerful for Morrissey. He stayed on the path to International stardom. The film "England Is Mine" gives us a brief glimpse to maybe what might have been. There are signs in the film and they are subtle but they're present. His isolation and humanity becomes his trademark brand. People are attracted to the depth and his complexity. With every new album we were able to get another dimension of his artistry. It just continued to build and build into the artist that he is today.



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