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  • Writer's pictureJacob Davies

CALIFORNIA SON, FOUR YEARS ON...

My Thoughts,


The greatest aspect of music lies in its unique ability to act as a catalyst of joy and delight for each individual listener. It is not merely about passively hearing a song, but about experiencing each syllable, savouring how the lyrics and melody resonate with oneself and one's own life.


This is why, as ‘California Son’ by our beloved Morrissey fell from heaven and straight into my arms four years ago, on the 24th May 2019, it almost instantly became superior in my mind to anything released before.


California Son’ landed on my lap at an incredibly significant time. I was “sixteen, clumsy and shy” and only seconds away from leaving school, about to bid farewell to the last remnants of comfort and routine that the world had to offer.

“When you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go?”.

Uncertainty sat on the other side of the mountain of time, and I was incredibly emotionally fragile. As my ears begged for a soundtrack to those days, my soul wept for something to love and cling to. ‘California Son’ emphatically answered both.


Please understand, all of Morrissey’s solo work, from 'Viva Hate' to the new, vibrant, and yet-to-be-released 'Bonfire of Teenagers' and 'Without Music, The World Dies', I hold very dearly. Each are fantastic works of genius, which all have special and unique places in my heart.

However, ‘California Sonis my heart. Incredibly often, I still find myself unwaveringly thankful for that album of songs.


There is an ethereal magic to the album. Morrissey is undoubtably a lyrical genius, we know this – and therefore an album of covers may seem like a strange choice for a self-proclaimed Morrissey superfan to feel so intensely about. This shows the sheer strength of ‘California Son’, in that Morrissey can take a variety of songs which are wonderful, yet musically incredibly diverse in their own right, and turn them into a masterpiece of an album. Each song feels like a Morrissey song, just another reason, if it was needed, to show that Morrissey is the most marvellous artist of his era, of any era.


I have strong, distinct memories of hearing the album for the first time, what is now four (four… how?) extraordinarily absurd years ago. I vividly remember sneaking out of my BTEC Drama rehearsals to listen to the freshly released first single ‘It’s Over’, for the very first time. That is a wonderful song. It is well up there with Morrissey’s greatest vocal performance. The original is vocally and lyrically powerful, but Morrissey made those lyrics speak to me. I was unprepared for the profound impact the rest of the album was to have. In times impossible to understand, ‘California Son’ was, and still is, my salvation.


What followed was ‘Morning Starship’, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ and Gary Puckett’s ‘Lady Willpower’, all of which could be considered my favourite at any given moment. I would often take long walks during the Easter period of 2019, just with the first few singles playing repeatedly in my ears.


The devotion ruled my heart.

Within the flowing narrative of hope that is the album itself, sit little moments of sheer ecstasy. It is these moments that make the album what it is for me. Every time my peripheral vision catches the light blues and pinks of the album artwork hung with pride on my bedroom wall, I am met with the hope and bliss that those flashes of brilliance hand to me. This album has given me so much.


So, please allow me to outline just some of the reasons why ‘California Son’ is the greatest album ever made.

- The air of anticipation and excitement in the opening seconds of ‘Morning Starship’.

- The agonisingly heartfelt delivery of “you’re in already”

- The absolute imagery of “framed in silver blue”

- M’s lalalala’s towards the end of the opening track.

- The tranquil sadness in the saxophones, of the opening instrumental of ‘Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow’. There are one million moments in that first minute alone.

- The utter strength and force behind ‘Only a Pawn in their Game’, re-energising and enhancing a Dylan classic.

- The authority and unmistakable presence of exquisiteness that is ‘Suffer the Little Children’; musically, a perfect song choice, vocally and lyrically catered to Morrissey’s seemingly endless galaxy of talent and style

- The delivery of “teach them that evil dwells across the sea”, and “poor mama’s stuck with sagging dreams”

- The kaleidoscope closing notes of ‘Days of Decision’, such dazzlingly poignant timing of that song in my life

- An unrivalled vocal performance on ‘It’s Over’.

- The loveable cries of ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, with the passion of delivery given to “I have not lived one day not loving you only”

- “You went away, now I’m alone”, in ‘Loneliness Remembers…’.

- The immediately recognisable full-bodied plea of ‘Lady Willpower’; “Did no one ever tell you, the facts of life?”.

- The dog bark in the opening of ‘When you close your eyes’, soothingly shifting into the change in tone and pace; “big surprise”.

- The trickling yet haunting piano in ‘Lenny’s Tune’, and the direct and heartfelt nature of “I know you couldn’t listen to people talk about, what they didn’t know”.

- The dramatic soul confession that is ‘Some Say I Got Devil’; it is impossible to avoid being immersed in the smoky, dark yet colourful landscape, which still has me on the edge of my seat, nearly two years later.


Truly, it is an astonishing album.


If by some otherworldly circumstance Morrissey reads this piece, all I can say is thank you, for ‘California Son’ and all of your other work. Your words, your spirit, and your presence, both on and off the stage, change my life every day.


Happy 4th Birthday, 'California Son.' My god, what an album.




Jacob Davies.

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