Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

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"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"
Single by The Smiths
B-side "Suffer Little Children"
"Girl Afraid"
Released 21 May 1984 (CD single: 28 November 1988)
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD
Recorded March 1984 (1984-03)
Fallout Shelter, Hammersmith, London[1]
Genre Alternative rock, indie pop
Length 3:35
Label Rough Trade
Writer(s) Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s) John Porter
The Smiths singles chronology
"What Difference Does It Make?"
(1984)
"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"
(1984)
"William, It Was Really Nothing"
(1984)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]

"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" is a single by British alternative rock band The Smiths that reached number ten on the UK Singles Chart in June 1984[3] before its inclusion on the compilation album, Hatful of Hollow. It is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Background[edit]

The music was written by Johnny Marr in an hour in a New York hotel room on 2 January 1984, on a red Gibson ES-355 guitar that was bought for him that day by Seymour Stein.[4] After finishing the song he then wrote the music for b-side Girl Afraid the same evening, and considers the two songs 'a pair'.[5]

The song is notable for marking the beginning of producer Stephen Street's working relationship with the band.[1] As one of his first roles as "in-house engineer" at Island Records' Fallout Shelter studios, Street engineered the session. He was well aware of the band and excited by the prospect, saying in a HitQuarters interview, "I'd seen them just shortly beforehand on Top of the Pops doing 'This Charming Man', and like most other people around that time who were into music I was really excited by them."[1] Street says his enthusiasm must have rubbed off on Morrissey and Johnny Marr because they would take his name and number.[1] Although not contacted for the subsequent recording "William, It Was Really Nothing", he was asked to engineer their next album, Meat Is Murder, with Morrissey and Marr producing for the first time.[1]

The cover features Viv Nicholson, who became famous in 1961 in the UK for winning a large amount of money on the football pools and then rapidly squandering it. The song's title was inspired by Sandie Shaw's "Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now". The single was the subject of some controversy upon its release due to its B-side, "Suffer Little Children", which is about the Moors murders between 1963 and 1965. The band's performance of the song on Channel 4's Earsay on 31 March 1984 features mixed footage of the band playing in a studio and footage of Morrissey walking around some wasteland in Manchester, with gladiolus flowers in his hands and back pocket of his trousers.

The song begins with the lines "I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour/But heaven knows I'm miserable now." The lyrics later ask "Why do I give valuable time/To people who don't care if I live or die?" and "Why do I smile/At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?"

Cultural reference[edit]

Journalist Andrew Collins borrowed the song's title for the name of his autobiographical book, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: My Difficult Student 80s, published in 2004.[6]

Track listing[edit]

7" RT156
No. Title Length
1. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"   3:34
2. "Suffer Little Children"   5:27
  • in original green sleeve
12" RTT156/CD RTT156CD
No. Title Length
1. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"   3:34
2. "Girl Afraid"   2:46
3. "Suffer Little Children"   5:27

Etchings on vinyl[edit]

UK 7": SMITHS INDEED / ILL FOREVER
UK 12": SMITHS PRESUMABLY / FOREVER ILL

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[3] 10
Irish Singles Chart[7] 11

References[edit]

External links[edit]