Probably the most poetic lyric in his career, along with
Suffer Little Children. This song
really does bring home quite how much The Smiths as a band had improved in the
four years they had been together. This sensitive and intelligent song
brings out fine performances from all four members: Joyce's perfectly subdued
rhythmic crests and dips, Rourke's meaty yet delicate bass part, Johnny Marr's
fine arrangement, and, of course, the absolutely beautiful lyrics welded
to the tune by Morrissey, displaying a vocal more expressive than any song
previously in their career.
For a song about the end of a fictitious relationship, the lyrics are suitably
image-laden. The morbid protagonist seems to equate his forthcoming death with a
feeling of utter helplessness - the image of a half-living corpse in a grave is
quickly qualified by his contemplation of suicide. We are given the impression that
suicide is not really an option for the troubled author, as he is even scared of
Notably, this is immediately followed by the image of a couple on their wedding day.
Perceiving all such permanent promises as ultimately pointless, the protagonist sides with
the "sad-veiled bride", while only harbouring hostility for the "loud loutish lover".
Cynically viewing the marriage as merely half-hearted, there is an underlying implication
that the sad-veiled bride is indeed the object of his attentions, or, at least, serving as
a reminder of her.
Only while repeatedly musing on the end of the relationship does he let it slip that,
indeed, "it never really began". The author even takes solace in her accusations of
loneliness and solitude.
Much has been said about the couplet "With your triumphs and your charms/While they're in
each other's arms". You'll notice that I have included it as part of what the amour
says to the author, implying that the triumphs and charms are in each other's arms, in a
metaphorical sense. Judging from her cynical speech preceding these lines, I would say
she is pointing out he has neither any triumphs nor charms. John O'Neal has this to say :
"As far as the "with your triumphs and your charms/while they're in each
others' arms" couplet, i would have to say that the speaker is kind of just
giving the knife a final twist, it's like the icing on the cake. in the lines
coming before that, she is destroying his most precious attributes one by one
(if you're so clever, etc) and the conclusion reached is that he is simply on
his own and its his own bloody fault because he's kind of deluded about
His only companionship is his false self-exalting nonsense which was just
stripped from him (that's why you're on your own tonight/with your triumphs
and your charms). and then on the other hand the sad-veiled bride and the
loud loutish lover are seemingly tickled pink (while they're in each others'
Outside of her speech, though, the lines could take on a different tone. The "they" mentioned
could be referring to the nuptial couple on their honeymoon, while the protagonist can only
look upon past victories.
The song is brilliantly framed by the line "Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my
head". Set up like this, it's almost as if the middle section of the song explains and jusitifies
the opening line, as we are reminded at the end, many times, of the original imagery.
An incredibly beautiful song that proves unlistenable for many fans due its almost unbearable