The Smiths A-Z: "Pretty Girls Make Graves"

He said in a couple of interviews that he lost his virginity at 13 & this is probably it.

I should imagine teenage sex in 1973 was fairly disgusting.

And he got punched.

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Oddly necrophiliac imagery. Suppose pretty girls do indeed make graves. Creepy stuff, if oddly blackly, bleakly funny. Depends on our sense of humour, I suppose, your sex, and whether or not you like women. Definitely not normal imagery or thinking or adjectives: "jungle...graves...Bermuda Triangles." And isn't the start of This Charming Man about him losing his virginity at 13...to a man in the outdoors? Seem to recall reading that. Might well be wrong, it's a long time ago.

Have to say, though: "She wants it now/and she will not wait/but she's too rough/and I'm too delicate" is one of the best rhyming couplets I have ever heard, funny and cringe-worthy at the same time. Sounds like the same horrifying encounter from Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: 'What she asked of me at the end of the day/Caligula would have blushed/"Oh you've been in the house too long," she said"/And I naturally fled.' Shrug. Have to say, though, I do love the song.

In the live version of the song below (and above), when he's singing, he looks to me like he's reliving shame and pain and traumatic psychosexual embarrassment, repeatedly covering his face at memories. It's almost painful to watch in itself. Or maybe the lighting was too bright. :)

 
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SuedeMoz

Well-Known Member
In the Smiths cannon, it's rather forgettable against the greatness that would follow... for me it's interesting for the insight it gives into Morrissey's ambiguous and complicated take on sexuality. Is it about a gay man trying to fight off the unwanted advances of a woman who doesn't know he's gay ("I'm not the man you think I am")? Or is it simply about a man gay or straight just not terribly interested in sex? This was during Morrissey's claim of celibacy. Whatever the case, the pretty girl that for most of the song he finds intolerable... seems to elicit immediate jealousy while in the arms of someone else. The inclusion of the "hand in glove" lyric during the outro is curious as well.
 
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I don't think it's necessarily jealousy so much as the fact that some other guy (supposedly) would just come along and take her off him, easily doing (somewhere down the line) something Moz couldn't just do so easily, f*** her. It's self-loathing mixed with betrayal and embarrassment and scorn ("A smile lights up her stupid face/and well it would") and pretence that he didn't want the encounter in the first place, where she had to have somebody else finish it for her after initiating it.

I mean, after all, he had to know what was coming, if he'd been hanging round with the woman for a while. Maybe the timing took him by surprise. Maybe it's the enormity of a waited-on moment arriving that freezes him into impotence. He can't handle the fact the woman can be so casual about sex, to the point where she can just instantly take up with another random partner, when Moz clearly can't.

Interesting that it's an outdoor encounter, too, and the close proximity to other people on the beach may have helped a self-conscious, closeted, cloistered Moz be even more cringey in the sexual non-performance (or 'brewer's droop' as it was known when I was in high school, when it was alcohol-induced) stakes.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
What's really underrated is Johnny's outro riff, which comes in around 3 minutes after the song has effectively ended. Almost thrown away, but I love it - this could easily have formed the basis for an entire new song.
 
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Deleted member 29417

Guest
Oddly necrophiliac imagery. Suppose pretty girls do indeed make graves. Creepy stuff, if oddly blackly, bleakly funny. Depends on our sense of humour, I suppose, your sex, and whether or not you like women. Definitely not normal imagery or thinking or adjectives: "jungle...graves...Bermuda Triangles." And isn't the start of This Charming Man about him losing his virginity at 13...to a man in the outdoors? Seem to recall reading that. Might well be wrong, it's a long time ago.

Have to say, though: "She wants it now/and she will not wait/but she's too rough/and I'm too delicate" is one of the best rhyming couplets I have ever heard, funny and cringe-worthy at the same time. Sounds like the same horrifying encounter from Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: 'What she asked of me at the end of the day/Caligula would have blushed/"Oh you've been in the house too long," she said"/And I naturally fled.' Shrug. Have to say, though, I do love the song.

In the live version of the song below (and above), when he's singing, he looks to me like he's reliving shame and pain and traumatic psychosexual embarrassment, repeatedly covering his face at memories. It's almost painful to watch in itself. Or maybe the lighting was too bright. :)



Yeah. In that part of the book there's a lot of resentment that he's trapped in an aggressively heterosexual culture. And his friends have started to chase girls & disappear on him.
 

Watson

Well-Known Member
An oddity in that the lyrics are wonderful; the guitar is wonderful; the title is wonderful...but it doesn't quite work. There are a couple of songs on the debut which don't quite shimmer and glow - this is one of them. Agree that the session version is better...it's just not incredible. After all, it is a ludicrously high bar.
 
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