I WANT THE ONE I CAN'T HAVE

On the day that your mentality
Decides to try to catch up with your biology

Come round ...
'Cause I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over, all over my face

On the day that your mentality
Catches up with your biology

I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over, all over my face

A double bed
And a stalwart lover for sure
These are the riches of the poor

A double bed
And a stalwart lover for sure
These are the riches of the poor

And I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over my face

A tough kid who sometimes swallows nails
Raised on Prisoner's Aid
He killed a policeman when he was
Thirteen
And somehow that really impressed
Me
And it's written all over my face

Oh, these are the riches of the poor
These are the riches of the poor

I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's written all over my face

On the day that your mentality
Catches up with your biology

And if you ever need self-validation
Just meet me in the alley by the
Railway station
It's all over my face
Oh ...


One of the albums less superb tracks features one of Morrissey's most bizarre Smiths-era lyrics, "A tough kid who sometimes swallows nails". This line is actually a reference to director Howard Sachler's description of James Dean as a "tough kid who sometimes sleeps on nails"; many think the change of line is an oral sex reference.
This multi-themed song focuses on youthful crime, poverty, and anguished desire. He purposefully leaves the exact reason for him being spurned to the reader to decide, but hints at it with the mentality-biology couplet, indicating that the protagonist believes that the object of attention is not mature enough to appreciate him.
All the lyrics tend to hint to a purposeful and almost malevolent self-belief; his talk of "driving me mad" reads very differently in this context. A seemingly incongruous verse about a young hoodlum (raised on Prisoner's Aid, which is, I believe, a benefit for families with jailed fathers) is once again loaded with meaning in context, implying that the protaganist could in fact be a dangerous criminal (with the fairly vacuous comment that "that really impressed me").
Matt Hiscock has this to say about this song :

Here's what I believe: The protagonist is being denied by a man who the he feels is gay but is in the closet.

On the day that your mentality
Catches up with your biology
And if you ever need self-validation...

Morrissey obviously believes that homosexuality is a biological state as opposed to mental so when the "One..." realizes his biology and needs to validate that ... Perhaps he considers the "tough kid" image just a persona to hide their orientation. Or maybe he just likes tough kids.


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