Girlfriend in a Coma (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Girlfriend in a Coma"
Girlfriend in a Coma.png
Single by The Smiths
from the album Strangeways, Here We Come
B-side "Work Is a Four-Letter Word"
Released 10 August 1987
Format 7", 12", MC
Recorded Spring 1987
Genre Alternative rock, indie pop
Length 2:02
Label Rough Trade
Songwriter(s) Johnny Marr, Morrissey
Producer(s) Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Stephen Street
The Smiths singles chronology
"Sheila Take a Bow"
"Girlfriend in a Coma"
"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"
"Sheila Take a Bow"
"Girlfriend in a Coma"
"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"

"Girlfriend in a Coma" is a song by The Smiths. It was released as a single in August 1987, reaching No. 13 in the UK Singles Chart.

The track was the first of three UK singles from the band's last studio album Strangeways, Here We Come. As such, it was the last single to include newly recorded material on the B-side. It holds the distinction of containing the last recorded Smiths song, "I Keep Mine Hidden". Also included—and recorded at the same session—is a cover version of a Cilla Black song, "Work Is a Four-Letter Word".


Morrissey's insistence on releasing this single incurred the wrath of Johnny Marr, due to his dislike of the B-side, and he left the band not long afterwards. Marr recalled to Record Collector magazine in 1992: "'Work Is A Four Letter Word' I hated. That was the last straw, really. I didn't form a group to perform Cilla Black songs. That was it, really. I made a decision that I was going to get away on holiday. The only place I could think of was L.A. L.A. was the only place I knew where there'd be sunshine, so off I went. I never saw Morrissey again." The video, which featured clips from the film The Leather Boys (starring Rita Tushingham), was directed by Tim Broad. BBC Radio 1 refused to play the song. Morrissey later commented, "You're not really supposed to like those songs. They're very depressing and not supposed to be played on radio."[1]

The cover features playwright Shelagh Delaney from a 1961 edition of A Taste of Honey. The photo was tinted grey for 7"s in all countries except in Australia where it was tinted green as for the 12"s. This was the second time Delaney appeared on a Smiths cover; she appeared as the cover star on the then-recently released Louder Than Bombs album. According to Johnny Marr, the Bob & Marcia song, Young, Gifted and Black, had an influence on this record.


The song is a first person narration by a man whose friend's girlfriend is in a coma. The narrator describes his conflicting feelings ("There were times when I could have murdered her/But you know I would hate anything to happen to her"). He says he doesn't want to see her then says he does. The repeated assertion "I know it's serious" is undercut by his careless tone and "the light playful accompaniment by the other members of the band".[2]

It can be related to the later song, "Driving Your Girlfriend Home", from Morrissey's second solo album, Kill Uncle (1991).

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr, except where noted..

7" RT197
No. Title Length
1. "Girlfriend in a Coma" 2:02
2. "Work Is a Four-Letter Word" (edited) (Guy Woolfenden, Don Black, Cilla Black) 2:09
12" RTT197 / Cassette RTT197C
No. Title Length
1. "Girlfriend in a Coma" 2:02
2. "Work Is a Four-Letter Word" (Woolfenden, D. Black, C. Black) 2:45
3. "I Keep Mine Hidden" 1:57

Etchings on vinyl[edit]




Chart Peak
Ireland (IRMA) 12
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 13


  • Mojo Nixon's cover of "Girlfriend in a Coma" on his 1995 album Whereabouts Unknown is in his usual psychobilly style. After the bridge, Mojo asks that the listener not blame him for the lyrics, launching into one of his trademark "rants" in which he finally declares that "I, Mojo Nixon, am the anti-Morrissey!"
  • Archive covered this song on their unplugged record in Paris in 2003, the album was released in 2004.
  • Joshua Radin's version can be found on his 2004 EP First Between 3rd and 4th.
  • Bleach covered the song on their 2005 greatest hits CD/DVD album Audio/Visual.
  • Bon Voyage covered the song on their 2008 release titled Lies.
  • Million Dead covered the song for the Smiths tribute compilation album How Soon Is Now?
  • Noah and the Whale covered the song on the CD single of "5 Years Time", released in summer 2008.
  • Both Tim Brooke-Taylor and Tony Hawks sung the words of the song to the tune of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" on different episodes of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
  • Panic! at the Disco covered the song on Australia's Take 40 Live Lounge.
  • Bombones' album Una luz que nunca se apagará (Tributo a The Smiths).


  1. ^ Plender, Andrew, "Mr Miserable Spreads Joy", The Independent: 17 May 2006
  2. ^ Nicholas P. Greco, "Only If You Are Really Interested": Celebrity, Gender, Desire and the World of Morrissey, McFarland, 2011, p.48.

External links[edit]