As most people know, Morrissey wasn't exactly above taking on loan a few lyrics himself. This a list of some of Morrissey's sources; originals sources are not necessarily accurate quotes. Some of these are definitely "borrowed"; others are pure conjecture, and still others are mere references.
Most of the more suspect ones are listed as the original author is or was a Morrissey favourite. Where there are multiple sources, I am most interested in the source which Morrissey most likely used himself.

The Smiths

Accept Yourself
"I am angry, I am ill, and I'm ugly as sin"
Magazine (included because of Howard Devoto link)

A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours

"A Rush, a charge from North, South, East and West [and] the land is ours"
Speranza, in an Irish nationalist magazine around the turn of the century
"A rush and a charge and the land is ours"
Traditional Irish battle cry
"...the ghost of Troubled Joe"
Probably a reference to the film Carry On Jack


"Sing me to sleep."
"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney. This could be dismissed as a common phrase, but considering the wholesale plundering of both this book and the film version, it's fairly reasonable.

Bigmouth Strikes Again

There is a Kenny Everett (late British 80s comedian) sketch where he is burned at the stake whilst wearing a Walkman.

Cemetry Gates

"All those people, all those lives, where are they now ? Here was a woman who once lived and loved, full of the same passions, fears, jealousies, hates. And what remains of it now ... I want to cry."
"The Man Who Came To Dinner", film
"The early village-cock hath twice done salutation to the morn"
Richard III, Shakespeare

Death At One's Elbow

Phrase from the Joe Orton Diaries

Death Of A Disco Dancer

"I'd rather not talk to my neighbour, I'd rather not get involved"
"Poor Cow", by Nell Dun

Frankly Mr. Shankly

Name possibly from onetime Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly

Half A Person

"I hitchiked all the way down to Memphis, got a room at the YMCA..."
"Guitar Man", by Elvis Presley
"Caliban is only half a person at the best of times."
From "The Collector", by John Fowles

Hand In Glove

"...and everything depends on how near you sleep to me."
Take This Longing, by Leonard Cohen
"I'll probably never see you again. I know it."
"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney

Handsome Devil

A Boy In The Bush is a novel by D. H. Lawrence
"There's more to life than what you read in books."
"Slaughterhouse Five", by Kurt Vonnegut

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

"The Hand that Rocks The Cradle", title of "Crib"-detective series,1981
"Climb upon my knee, sonny boy..."
"Sonny Boy", Al Jolson
"Over the stones, rattle his bones, he's only a beggar who nobody owns."
Gray's Elegy (original source)
"So rattle her bones all over the stones, she's only a beggar-man whom nobody owns."
The Lion In Love, by Shelagh Delaney (this is the most likely direct source)

The Headmaster Ritual

"...who grabs and devours ..."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

"Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now", song by Sandie Shaw

How Soon Is Now ?

"To be born the son of a Middlemarch manufacturer, and inevitable heir to nothing in particular,.."
"Middlemarch", by George Eliot

I Don't Owe You Anything

"I don't owe you a thing."
"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney

I Want The One I Can't Have

"Health, Health, the blessing of the Rich, the Riches of the Poor"
From Edith Sitwell's "The English Eccentrics"
"A tough kid who sometimes sleeps on nails."
Director Howard Sachler's description of James Dean.
"We all want the things we can't have."
Samantha Eggar in The Collector.

Is It Really So Strange ?

"I could never never go back home again."
24 Hours From Tulsa by Gene Pitney

Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

"Last Night Was Meant For Love" is a single by Billy Fury (who features on the single sleeve)


"..because you notice the jealousy of those that stay at home..."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

Louder Than Bombs

"...louder than bombs or screams or the inside ticking of remorse..."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

Miserable Lie

"...by his sweetness and goodness to her through the brief years of his flower-like life."
Oscar Wilde's De Profundis

Paint A Vulgar Picture (and You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby)

"You just haven't earned it yet, baby"
Geoff Travis
"Paint a vulgar picture"
Oscar Wilde

Pretty Girls Make Graves

"Nature played this trick on me"
The barber in the film "Victim"
"Pretty girls make graves"
Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac

The Queen Is Dead

"The Queen Is Dead"
Last Exit To Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jnr
"Shall we go for a walk where it's quiet ... ?"
From the film of Billy Liar
"Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty..." is from the film The L Shaped Room.

Reel Around The Fountain

"Take and mount me like a butterfly"
Exit Smiling - Morrissey (after From Reverence To Rape by M.Haskell)
"...like butterflies on pins."
"...reel around the cafe."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
"You're the bee's knees, but so am I"
"I dreamt about you last night, and I fell out of bed twice."
both from the film adaptation of A Taste Of Honey by Shelagh Delaney

Rubber Ring

"Everybody's Clever Nowadays"
The Importance Of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

Rusholme Ruffians

"Fourteen Again"
The whole song is loosely based around this song by Victoria Wood

Shakespeare's Sister

"Shakespeare's Sister"
An essay by Virginia Woolf, also a character in Tennessee William's "Glass Menagerie"
"...our bones groaned like old trees..."
"rocks below could promise certain death."
From Elizabeth Smart's "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept".

Sheila Take A Bow

"If the homework brings you down, then we'll throw it on the fire."
Kooks, David Bowie

Shoplifters Of The World Unite

"My only weakness is ... well, never mind, never mind"
James Dean in "Kraft Mystery Hour : Danger !"
"It's a long time, six months."
"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

"Send me the pillow, the one that you dream on"
"Send me the pillow you dream on" - Johnny Tillotson
The lines about Anthony and Cleopatra are about the film "Carry On Cleo"

Still Ill

"Society owes me a living"
Myra Hindley, 1977
"We walked for miles, round the backs, right over the iron bridge and down underneath it on the towpath. We were kissing away and touching and getting really sore lips"
From Viv Nicholson's book, "Spend Spend Spend".

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

"Stop Me If You've Heard It"
Short story by Noel Coward.

Strangeways, Here We Come

"Borstal, here we come"
Billy Liar

Stretch Out And Wait

"Jim, do you think that the end of the world will come at night time ?"
Rebel Without A Cause
"We are here and it is now."
Men's Liberation by Jack Nichols

Suffer Little Children

"Whatever Ian has done, I have done"
Myra Hindley
"Suffer the little children to come unto me"
Whispered when Myra walked past by inmates of Hindley's jail (from the bible; "suffer" is equivalent to "allow")
There is a play by Stanley Houghton called "Hindle Wakes".

Sweet And Tender Hooligan

"In the midst of life we are in debt"
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore
"In the midst of life we are in death"
Coleridge (adapted by Cook and Moore for their sketch)
Also from The Burial Service in the Book of Common Prayer

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

"I've watched this happen in other people's lives and now it's happened in ours"
"Alice Adams"

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

In the 1968 film "The Killing Of Sister George", one of the murder methods discussed is that of a ten-ton truck.
"I suppose I should keep on hoping he gets knocked down by a double-decker bus"
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe

These Things Take Time

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..."
Battle Hymn of the American Republic, Julia Howe
"Our eyes have seen the glory ..."
Eamon de Valera, Irish Prime Minister
The line "the hills are alive with celibate cries" could refer to the beginning of the film "The Sound of Music", where there are nuns singing on a hilltop.

This Charming Man

"A jumped-up pantry boy who doesn't know his place"
From the film Sleuth starring Michael Caine

This Night Has Opened My Eyes

"You can't just wrap it up in a bundle of newspaper."
"...and dump it on a doorstep."
"That river, it's the colour of lead."
"I'm not sorry and I'm not glad."
"Oh well, the dream's gone, but the baby's real enough."
A Taste Of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney


"I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside."
This line is NOT from the Johnny Cash song "The man in black". Does anyone know where it is from, if anywhere ?

Vicar In A Tutu

"...combatting ignorance and disease."
From the film version of Billy Liar
"...sent to Borstal when a kid for breaking open gas meters and ripping lead from church roofs..."
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe

Well I Wonder

"... do you hear me where you sleep ?"
"... for it is the fierce last stand of all I have."
"...and cries out hoarsely my name in the night."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

What Difference Does It Make ?

"...the devil will make work for idle hands to do."
Beyond Belief, Emlyn Williams (after the bible)
"What difference does it make ?"
Terence Stamp, in the film The Collector which features on the sleeve.

What She Said

"I have learned to smoke because I need something to hold on to."
"...I wonder why no one has noticed that I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me"
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

William, It Was Really Nothing

"The rain is pouring on the foreign town, the bullets cannots cut you down."
"This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us", by Sparks
The theme of this song is borrowed from "Billy Liar" by Keith Waterhouse.

You've Got Everything Now

"...as merry as the day is long."
A Taste Of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney
Originally from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing".


Alma Matters
"Anyway, it's your life, ruin it your own way."
A Taste Of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney.

Alsatian Cousin

The title of the song is from the Alan Bennett play, "Forty Years On".

Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together

Angel, Angel, Down We Go, 70s film

Billy Budd

"...because of what was in our eyes."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
Billy Budd is a novel by Herman Melville

Black-Eyed Susan

Apparently this is based upon The Buckingham's "Susan".
"I am a born-again atheist."
Attributed to Gore Vidal.

Dagenham Dave

"Dagenham Dave" is the title of song by The Stranglers.

Do Your Best And Don't Worry

"...unnoticed in my drab dress."
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
"You're watching yourself but you're too unfair."
Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, David Bowie

Found, Found, Found

"...I do believe that the more you give your love, and I do believe that the more you offer trust ... the more you're bound to lose".
If Love Were All, by Noel Coward

Glamorous Glue

"...I am too much in love."
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

Hairdresser On Fire

Rumoured to be based on the play "The Boy Hairdresser" by Orton/Halliwell

He Cried

"He Cried" is a song by 60's girl group The Shrangli-La's.


Derived from area of Manchester (Hulme, pronounced "Hume")

Kill Uncle

Let's Kill Uncle, sixties film.

King Leer

"King Lear" is of course by William Shakespeare

The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

"The Last Of The Secret Agents", song by Nancy Sinatra.

Late Night, Maudlin Street

"They are taking me away in a police car..."
"Are you not convinced, inspector ? Do you not believe in love ?"
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
Late Night On Watling Street
Book of short stories by Bill Naughton
Maudlin Street is the name of the secondary school in Carry On Teaching
Also, whilst recording Viva Hate in Bath, Moz often visited Bristol, which as Upper/Lower Maudlin Street in the city centre.

The Lazy Sunbathers

George Formby accused contemporary performers of being "lazy sunbathers" for not being more active in the war effort. It probably also refers to the days after Germany invaded Poland, where crowds of Berlin sunbathers went to the Wahnsee lake, in a state of denial about the forthcoming war.

Little Man, What Now ?

Little Man, What Now ?, a German film released in 1934, based on a book written by Hans Fallada.

Lucky Lisp

Pun on Cliff Richard's Lucky Lips


"In a low-cut blouse she brings the beer."
"They'll eat a working girl like her alive."
Joni Mitchell, in the song "The Jungle Line".

The Malady Lingers On

"...But the melody lingers on."
Ziegfeld Follies, by Irving Berlin

National Front Disco, The

The title comes from "Among The Thugs" by Bill Buford.

Now I Am A Was

"I started at the top, and then I worked down".
Orson Welles

Now My Heart Is Full

Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt
characters in Brighton Rock by Grahame Greene (later made into Morrissey's favourite film)

Papa Jack

It is possible the title of this song refers to a boxer called Jack Johnson.
The American writer Joel Chandler Harris wrote a series of stories in the creole language Gullah, based around a character called Daddy Jack.

Piccadilly Palare

Words from Round The Horne, 1960s radio show (see lyrics). Piccadilly Palare was slang for gay men in the 1960s.

Roy's Keen

Probably a pun on Manchester United footballer Roy Keane.

Satan Rejected My Soul

"Heaven doesn't seem to be my home."
Wuthering Heights (book or film ?)

Sing Your Life

"Can you look at the truth ?"
James Dean in East Of Eden


"Speedway" is a 1968 film starring Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra

Suedehead (album)

Suedehead, a book by Richard Allen
"Why do you come here, when you know I've got troubles enough ?"
"Weakness In Me" by Joan Armatrading

This Is Not Your Country

The title is spoken near the beginning of the Australian skinhead film "Romper Stomper".


"Put your arms around me, Geoff."
"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney
"Tomorrow" is the title of a song by Sandie Shaw
"Put your arms around me."
"I won't tell anybody."
Samantha Eggar in The Collector.

Used To Be A Sweet Boy

"Used To Be A Playboy", single by The Marvelettes

Vauxhall And I

Possibly from the film "Withnail And I"
Johnny Rogan lives in Vauxhall (an area of London)
Vauxhall is a make of car.

We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

"Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success."
Oscar Wilde

Will Never Marry

Folk band The Morrisseys apparently have a song called "I Will Never Marry".