HALF A PERSON

Call me morbid, call me pale
I've spent six years on your trail
Six long years
On your trail

Call me morbid, call me pale
I've spent six years on your trail
Six full years of my life on your trail

And if you have five seconds to spare
Then I'll tell you the story of my life :
Sixteen, clumsy and shy
I went to London and I
I booked myself in at the Y ... W.C.A.
I said : "I like it here - can I stay ?
I like it here - can I stay ?
Do you have a vacancy
For a Back-scrubber?"

She was left behind, and sour
And she wrote to me, equally dour
She said : "In the days when you were
Hopelessly poor
I just liked you more..."

And if you have five seconds to spare
Then I'll tell you the story of my life :
Sixteen, clumsy and shy
I went to London and I
I booked myself in at the Y ... W.C.A.
I said : "I like it here - can I stay ?
I like it here - can I stay ?
And do you have a vacancy
For a Back-scrubber ?"

Call me morbid, call me pale
I've spent too long on your trail
Far too long
Chasing your tail
Oh ...

And if you have five seconds to spare
Then I'll tell you the story of my life :
Sixteen, clumsy and shy
That's the story of my life
Sixteen, clumsy and shy
The story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
The story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story of my life
That's the story ...


Absolutely one of my favourite Smiths songs ever, Marr's fantastic tune, arrangement and production coalesces perfectly with Morrissey's strong potent vocal. An acoustic guitar part provides warmth, stability and a great personability to this song about obsession, aspiration, and adolescent clumsiness.
Morrissey sets the tone of the lyric in the first verse where he's spent "six long years" obsessed with someone. The undertone is that he's only ever worshipped this person from afar, but such is his dedication that he's been feeling that way for six years. He then seems to be accusatory, complaining that he's wasted six years and got nowhere - as if he has been robbed of this time out of his life.
The six years he's spent dedicated to this task is put sharply in contrast by asking for a mere five seconds to reveal himself. The biting irony of this line is double-edged of course; as well as comparing the five seconds with the six years, Morrissey is saying that his life has been so fruitless that it can be easily explained with one tale of his adolescent trip to London.
The chorus sees Morrissey referring to his championing of women's rights, which in his youth prompted him to read The Female Eunuch and wear badges supporting the cause.
Before the tail-end of the song, he returns to the starting verse to reveal the true nature of the obsession by the puerile admission that he has spent for too long chasing their tail ... The end section of the song sees Morrissey admitting that he hasn't changed at all since the age of sixteen, as "sixteen, clumsy and shy" is the story of his life.
Thanks to coincidence, when I was 16, clumsy, and shy, I did indeed visit London, though unfortunately I failed to stay the night at a fictional hostel.

 Visit BBC version of this song

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