The Smiths A-Z: "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member









Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song, released as a single in May 1984 and reaching #10 in the UK chart. It then appeared on the Hatful of Hollow compilation, later the same year.

The song was played live 106 times by the Smiths - but has never been played live by Morrissey.

What do we think?
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
A song maligned as responsible for the Smiths "miserable" image & therefore disliked by both Morrissey and Marr, but this one is immortal to me. In my mind, it's almost like a test - if you 'get' this one, you'll love everything else you hear from The Smiths. If not, they aren't for you.

Great guitar, ageless lyrics that always cheer me up after a shit day at work.
'Caligula would have blushed' is one of the funniest lines in pop music, ever.
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
Johnny's view on the song:

"'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' is a period piece to me. It's probably a lot of people's introduction to this strange band with the flowers or whatever, but as a musical experience I'm not that keen on it."
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
Ah another classic and absolute favourite of mine. The performance on TotP is one of the best things to have ever appeared on television. I have no uninteresting anecdotes I can share about this song without upsetting my ex.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The music is good - really intricate guitar work, and the bass line is one of Andy's best. Moz's lyrics are classic and hilarious, but for me the problem is the vocal melody, which is very repetetive and limited. It's mostly the same three notes going up and down, which give it a droning and moaning quality which ends up being mildly annoying -- thank heaven for the falsetto bit, which adds a slight bit of variety. Morrissey's limited vocal range is noticable on several of the bands earlier tracks, and this is one of the worst examples. I can still enjoy it, up to a point, but if the verses and choruses were just a little different in terms of Morrissey's note choices, this would be a far less one-dimensional song. [7 out of 10]
 

Ketamine Sun

Now, today, tomorrow and always
The music is good - really intricate guitar work, and the bass line is one of Andy's best. Moz's lyrics are classic and hilarious, but for me the problem is the vocal melody, which is very repetetive and limited. It's mostly the same three notes going up and down, which give it a droning and moaning quality which ends up being mildly annoying -- thank heaven for the falsetto bit, which adds a slight bit of variety. Morrissey's limited vocal range is noticable on several of the bands earlier tracks, and this is one of the worst examples. I can still enjoy it, up to a point, but if the verses and choruses were just a little different in terms of Morrissey's note choices, this would be a far less one-dimensional song. [7 out of 10]

Hi Marr, save it for your next interview.
 

Carlislebaz

Cock of the north
Well what to say about this one....

It’s only one of the greatest songs
Of the modern era, and for those
Of us “ who got it” Well we were in it
For the long run, and are still here.

We all know that this song, for the knuckle scrapers was Manor from heaven, and to this day this song, to them defines The Smiths.

This song played extremely loud
Blows the cob webs from the brain
and immediately lifts my spirits.

It shows two Geniuses at the top of their game...

10/10
And a front runner to be played at my funeral.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Agree that the vocal melody is very limited, but this is still a catchy little single. It's just a shame it ended up defining the band as 'miserable' in the eyes of Joe Public,and even all these decades later Morrissey is still remembered as 'that guy who had a bush up his arse on Top of the Pops'. I can see why it swiftly became more of a hindrance than something for the band to celebrate.
 

SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
A classic in every way, Marr & Morrissey in top form. One thing that's clear watching the TV performances... no one danced better to The Smiths than Morrissey. (10/10)
 
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Flibberty

Well-Known Member
I've never really loved this one and I can understand why Johnny has been so dismissive of it. It sounds like a bit of an anomaly to me on Hatful of Hollow. It has become the group's signature song to some extent, but don't I think it really represents their sound that well.


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 29th from 73 of the group's songs.
In the poll on the Hoffman board this song ranked 37th from 73 of the group's songs.
 
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Phranc & Open

I've known no war
I love that song very much. Kind of a Smiths DNA. Later somewhat misinterpreted, that Morrissey could only whine, but if you had adopted this DNA code as an adolescent: essential as food and drink.
 
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Mayfly

Well-Known Member
Despite the word ‘miserable’ in the title, this is actually a very radio-friendly song and I remember hearing it a lot on the radio (in Belgium). I don’t think the lyrics are all that depressing and I can find some basic truths het. In particular the lines of the chorus
In my life, why do I give valuable time to people who don’t care if I live or die.
Surely, we are all guilty of that, especially in the world of corporate culture.
It’s a minor classic for me.
 

Nikita

Senior Member
It is a very good song, BUT I believe it is almost the Smiths cliche in a nutshell so I do understand why Marr could live without it.
 
Again, its impact at the time helped so many people. The decision to wear glasses/hearing aid on national tv made Moz a champion of the outsiders there and then.

As a song, I love the music more than the lyrics.
 

Dirk Blaggard

Well-Known Member
well, this is one of those that is obviously brilliant and gave Morrissey a chance to shine on TOTP and the various other shows, including the one above
The lyrics are fantastic, I guess people will say "why doesn't M write songs like that now?" , the wise arse answer is, "Because he did then "
Although in truth, I would love it if he managed to pull off a song so achingly English it makes the world disappear

Its of a time and beyond a time. Its a mike Leigh movie in 3 minutes. Its a song that poked fun at being miserable BUT that daft American Gothics saw as a "cool" image " oh I'm so miserable I could die"
The song is Philip Larkin , escaping the library and getting Joe Meek to record a song for him with a skittle band .
The song is jam-packed with lyrics The Jam, couldn't possibly pack (too one level)

It had the very real " I was looking for a job and then I found a job and heaven knows I am miserable now"
With one sentence summing up a certain English work loathing dole culture (of which I was one)
and each line is so spot-on, all you can do is laugh

I can see why M is sick of it, it trapped him in a image, forever
 
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Flora Fauna

Guest
I use to think this was my favorite song by the Smiths. Everything about the song was perfect to me.
 
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