The Smiths A-Z: "Girlfriend in a Coma"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member






Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song from the Strangeways Here We Come album of 1987. Released as the lead single in August of that year and coinciding with the break-up of the band, it reached #13 in the UK singles chart.

The song was never played live by the Smiths but was a staple of Morrissey's shows between 2006 and 2009.

What do we think?
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
I have such a vivid memory of John Peel playing this towards the end of his show one evening in late July 87, before the song's release, and saying that the Smiths were breaking up. The sadness is still etched into my brain.
 

Ossie

Human Being
I remember seeing the video on No Limits when I was 12 and not really understanding what I was watching, but being oddly intrigued.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Starts off as an oompah song before transforming into gorgeous guitar pop. Not a huge favorite of mine, but still a stone cold classic.
 

CrazyFaceGenes

Active Member
It's never quite hit the spot for me, there are elements of the music and vocal i like, but i put it in the bottom tier of Smiths discography.
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
I loved it then and I love it now, so much that the band who played at my wedding learned the song just so that I could make a fool of myself. I really like the reggae-infused demo and even have a soft spot for the slightly sinister video (Moz's face during the slow mo bits!) Another unique, hilarious, joyous piece of Moz/Marr pop.
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always



In a 2013 interview Marr described:

“We bonded over a lot of records, but we both loved that song (Young Gifted and Black) in the same way at the same time. And that’s very likely to be the thing that inspired the music for ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’.



‘LINDER FOUND A COBRA’
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
The closing line always brings back that feeling of sadness, caused by the News of their break-up around that time.
Let me whisper my last goodbye, I know - it’s seriou.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
Always been a favorite of mine, maybe b/c it's a song I knew from the radio before I started buying the albums. It highlights Morrissey's ability to mix tender and biting lyrics within the same song. While lyrically Morrissey does what he does best, Johnny's provides the perfect jaunty and quirky supporting music.

I always took it as a sweet but honest postmortem on a failed relationship. This article suggests it's a straightaway song about AIDS. I appreciate that Morrissey's lyrics are not so vague as to be meaningless, but not so specific that people can't draw different interpretations. Finally as @Mayfly mentioned that closing line is haunting and gets me every time. (9/10)
 
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Flibberty

Well-Known Member
An entertaining little insight into Morrissey's black sense of humour and I enjoyed this as a part of his live shows.

According to Simon Goddard's book, Tim Broad knocked the video together in 24 hours which is fairly admirable.


Just to show other viewpoints and not because they should be considered in any way definitive...

In the poll on this board this song ranked 32nd from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 27th from 73 of the group's songs.
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
One of those songs that when ordinary people hear it think one of two things.

1. What the 4ck is this or
2. This is pure comedy.

I laughed my tits off the first few times I heard this.
A song that showed to the world the pure genius of the band when they were on top of the pop world.

10/10
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I adore this - my favourite Smiths single, and one of my favourite Smiths songs period. Musically it sounds gorgeous- a sublime mix of what almost feels like deliberately lightweight whimsical pop, yet coupled with those dramatic strings. Lyrically, Morrissey matches this - on one level the lyrics are so ridiculously over-the-top it feels like it must be a tongue-in-cheek comedy, yet his vocal delivery is so heartfelt that it never fails to move me, with the 'I know - it's serious' line almost challenging the listener. The song manages to be both frivolously lightweight, and super heavy and dramatic, all at the same time. Add in a great melody, and it achieves all this in only 2 mintues! 120 seconds of perfection, and a song only The Smiths could have made.
 

CrazyFaceGenes

Active Member
One of those songs that when ordinary people hear it think one of two things.

1. What the 4ck is this or
2. This is pure comedy.

I laughed my tits off the first few times I heard this.
A song that showed to the world the pure genius of the band when they were on top of the pop world.

10/10

Yeah, the song didn't really do much for me but it was a song the charts and UK radio needed.
The slightly naff video made it even better at the time.
 
D

Daniel Boratto

Guest
Simply my favourite, the best of them all. A masterpiece. Delicate, dramatic, all in the right measure. The perfect Smiths epitaph.
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
A perfect pop song. High drama courtesy of the strings in the chorus - and what a chorus that is, with the pleading, yelping voice of Moz matched with the string arpeggios, both contributing fantastically memorable riffs in their own right. Plus there’s the thump of the bass in the verses, matched with the delicate fingerpicking that gives the illusion of innocence, despite the gloriously camp and sinister lyrics, where our narrator seems to be more enamoured about the very likely possibility of his girlfriend dying rather than pulling through, as the chorus repeatedly puts it.
I’m a broke record in these threads, but how could you not be when faced with songs of this sheer, precipice-level quality.
10/10
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
Always been a favorite of mine, maybe b/c it's a songI knew from the radio before I started buying the albums. It highlights Morrissey's ability to mix tender and biting lyrics within the same song. While lyrically Morrissey does what he does best, Johnny's provides the perfect jaunty and quirky supporting music.

I always took it as a sweet but honest postmortem on a failed relationship. This article suggests it's a straightaway song about AIDS. I appreciate that Morrissey's lyrics are not so vague as to be meaningless, but not so specific that people can't draw different interpretations. Finally as @Mayfly mentioned that closing line is haunting and gets me every time. (9/10)
I may have missed it but what was the reason, that this was considered an aids song?

I find it hard to take Rolling Stone seriously when they cover Smiths. As they didn't get The Smiths at all, in fact they have only really started coming on board with them in the last 10 years- because by that point , they were considered a classic band and couldn't be ignored


I have never heard anyone mention that Girlfriend was about Aids, so it can't be that much of an "open secret" . I don't think it is. I think the only reason he said that, is because Smiths were an 80s band, aids became known in the 80s and Morrissey is seen, by some, to be homosexual .

Also, he mentions Disco Dancer, as if it was a song about M's nights out in the 70s dressed in Cuban heels cutting a rug at Whalley Range gay disco
When to me it was M having a swipe at rave culture, which was very much "all the rage" in Manchester around 86 to 89. Some thought it was a revolution. That E induced peace and love would cure the world of all its ills . His answer was the wise " Love Peace and Harmony, very nice, very nice but maybe in the next world"

There were lots of stories in the news about people falling into a coma, after taking an E, so maybe that was where he got the idea. Not the aids epidemic
 

Redacted

I think I must be, absolutely, a total sex object.
I think the story behind this song is in Severed Alliance, it's not about Aids.
 
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