The Smiths A-Z: "Rusholme Ruffians"


Well-Known Member

Next up in our Smiths A-Z project is this song from the Meat is Murder album, released in 1985 and subsequently included on the Rank live album.

The song was performed live 75 times by the Smiths, but has never been played by Morrissey as a solo artist.

What do we think?
Although I prefer V Woods lyrics to M's adjusted version, I do like the words in this and I like the music, but its not one of their stand-out tracks - in my mind.
It has to be the version from "Rank" and then it's up there with the greats. I also think this is interesting

This is the last night of the fair
And the grease in the hair
Of a speedway operator
Is all a tremulous heart requires
A schoolgirl is denied
She said: "How quickly would I die
If I jumped from the top of the parachutes?"

There's a club if you'd like to go
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you stand on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home and you cry
And you want to die

Sharing some similar sentiments and both very dramatic but the first one makes us laugh, or I laugh, at the idea while the second one is more grown up, less fun, more serious.
One of the most quintessential Smiths songs, for me. So much of what made them great is encapsulated in this one!

Also, fond memories of stealing "The air hangs heavy like a dulling wine" in a creative writing essay at school in 1985 and my English teacher circling it and putting "Great image" in the margin next to it.
In Johnny's words:

"That was blatantly done. Morrissey said to me, 'Let's do a song about the fair,' and for some reason my association with the fair was to pull out that Elvis riff. We tried, but we couldn't get away from it."

I want to be fourteen again
When sex was just called number ten
And I was up to seven and a half
Boys were for love, girls were for fun
You burst out laughing if you saw a nun
Sophistication was a sports car and a chiffon scarf

I want to be fourteen again
Tattoo my self with a fountain pen
Pretend to like the taste of rum and Coke
Chuck my school hat in a bush
Spit on my mascara brush
Buy Consulate and teach myself to smoke

I want to be fourteen again
Free rides on the waltzer off the fairground men
For a promise of a snog the last night of the fair—
French kissing as the kiosks shut
Behind the generators with your coconut
The coloured lights reflected in the Brylcream on his hair
I want to be fourteen again
For all the things I didn't know then

When I was funny, I was famous, I was never ignored
I was a crazy girl, I had to laugh
I had Ilya Kuriakin's autograph
I had no idea you could wake up feeling bored
A further suggested Victoria Wood influence on the song:

Funny How Things Turn Out.

Lyrically this is a very fair assessment of when and what really happened at the fairground when it
Landed in town for Easter in the early 1980s as I remember.
Violence, fleeting romances, being ripped off on the rides from the travelling community.
Candy floss, toffee apples, and gold fishes that clapped out before you got them home.

A rather underrated song from the Murder album and should have been the lead single.
Andy’s playing sticks out like your mates spew on your Wrangler jacket after departing the Waltzers.
Best song on the album for me.
Again the magic of the songs from this era was that even though people could resonate with them around the world, if you grew up where they took place, he was singing your life.
the smiths a-z
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