Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

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"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
Single by the Smiths
from the album Strangeways, Here We Come
B-side"I Keep Mine Hidden"
GenreAlternative rock
LabelSire (US)
The Smiths singles chronology
"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"
"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" is a song by the English rock band the Smiths, written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. The song was first released on the group's 1987 album Strangeways, Here We Come. Marr's music features a larger sound, courtesy of a 12-string Gibson ES-335, and one of his few guitar solos with the Smiths. Morrissey's lyrics allude to alcohol and deception.

Although the song was originally planned to be released as a single in August 1987, the BBC objected to the song's lyrical reference to mass murder in the aftermath of the Hungerford Massacre. As a result, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" was only released as a single in America, Australia, and some European markets, while "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" was chosen to replace the song as the band's new UK single.

Despite its censorship by British radio, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" has seen critical acclaim for Marr's guitar work and Morrissey's witty lyricism. It has since appeared on multiple compilation albums and has been ranked by music writers as one of the band's best songs.


"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" features, like most Smiths songs, lyrics written by Morrissey and music written by Johnny Marr. Marr composed the song's music on a 12-string Gibson ES-335, which he commented "gave a really big sound."[1][nb 1] He explained that the guitar hits in the song's intro were the result of stacking a Telecaster "on top of a Fender Twin Reverb with the vibrato on, and tun[ing] it to an open chord" only to "drop a knife with a metal handle on it, hitting random strings." The song also featured the first guitar solo on a Smiths record; Marr explained in an interview with Guitar Player magazine:

"I was really pleased that the first solo as such on a Smiths record was one you could sing... I liked the melody at the end of 'Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before,' but it just felt a little too accomplished. I wanted it to sound like a punk player who couldn't play, so I fingered it on one string, right up and down the neck. I could have played it with harmonics or my teeth, or something clever, but the poignancy would have gone out of the melody."[1]

Lyrically, Rolling Stone described the song as "a whirlwind tour of sex, lies, booze, obsession, mass murder, [and] bicycle-related testicular injury".[3] Len Brown of the NME commented on an alternate meaning to the song's title, "[Morrissey] even seems to relish calling a song 'Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before,' in the face of those who perpetually take the piss out of him and reckon that every Smiths song sounds the same."[4]


In addition to its release on Strangeways, Here We Come, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" was originally intended to be released as the album's second single. Promotional singles were printed and sent to Radio One. However, the song's single release came in the wake of the Hungerford massacre, in which 16 people were murdered, and the BBC refused to play the song on the grounds that the lyric "plan a mass murder" was offensive.[5] As a result, the song was not released as a single in the UK and "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" was selected instead. "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" was ultimately released as a single in other regions, including the United States, Australia, Germany, and others.[5] The cover of the single is a picture of British actor and singer Murray Head from a still of the 1966 film The Family Way (a movie that would also be the source of the photograph on the cover of "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish").[4]

Morrissey later stated:

"I desperately, desperately wanted that to be released. Rough Trade sent white labels along to Radio One but they said they would never under any circumstances play it because of the line about mass murder. They said people would've instantly linked it with Hungerford and it would've caused thousands of shoppers to go out and buy machine guns and murder their grandparents. I think Rough Trade should've released 'Death of a Disco Dancer' just to be stroppy."[4]

The song was later featured on the compilation albums Stop Me and The Very Best of The Smiths. The song is also included in the music video game Rock Band 3.[6] Though the band broke up before they could tour any songs from Strangeways, Here We Come, Morrissey performed the song live alongside fellow ex-Smiths Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce, and Craig Gannon as the opening song of his infamous debut solo concert at Wolverhampton's Civic Hall in December 1988.[7]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced by the director Tim Broad. It opens with a picture of Oscar Wilde hanging on a brick wall, and features Morrissey and a group of Morrissey lookalikes cycling around Manchester and Salford, including famous locations such as the Salford Lads' Club.[8] Morrissey was hesitant to take part in the videos, but was implored by Rough Trade's Geoff Travis to participate in order to boost the album's singles. Morrissey recalled in his autobiography, "Tim Broad steps in to make sense of it all, hotch-podging two videos for both 'Girlfriend in a Coma' and 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'. The results for both are frustratingly unwatchable, although Tim did his beast with such a mealy-mouthed budget."[9][nb 2]

Critical reception[edit]

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" has seen critical acclaim since its release. David Browne of Rolling Stone called the track "the album’s most propulsive number" and opined, "Marr's piercing solo at the end of the song not only is one of the record's emotional highlights — it also proves it's best the band split up rather than attempt to replace him."[10] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the song a "classic,"[11] while Douglas Wolk of Pitchfork commented, "Their final single couldn't have had a cleverer title than 'Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before'."[12]

Rolling Stone ranked the song as the 14th best Smiths song,[3] while NME named it the band's 16th best.[13] Consequence ranked the song as the band's 28th best, calling it "a testament to The Smiths' power in 1987".[14] Guitar named the song as the band's 20th greatest guitar moment.[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

12-inch and CD single (Germany, red cover)
1."Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"3:33
2."Work Is a Four-Letter Word"2:47
3."Girlfriend in a Coma"2:02
4."I Keep Mine Hidden"1:57
12-inch (Netherlands, grey cover and Australia, orange cover)
1."Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"3:33
2."Pretty Girls Make Graves" (early cello version)3:35
3."Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" (live)5:03
7-inch (Germany, red cover)
1."Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"3:33
2."Girlfriend in a Coma"2:02
7-inch (Netherlands, grey cover and Australia, orange cover)
1."Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"3:33
2."Pretty Girls Make Graves" (early cello version)3:35
7-inch (North America, blue cover)
1."Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"3:33
2."I Keep Mine Hidden"1:57

Mark Ronson version ("Stop Me") [edit]

"Stop Me"
Mark Ronson - stop me (uk single).jpg
Single by Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather
from the album Version
B-side"No One Knows"
Released2 April 2007 (2007-04-02)
Producer(s)Mark Ronson
Mark Ronson singles chronology
"Stop Me"
"Oh My God"
Daniel Merriweather singles chronology
"NYC Rules"
"Stop Me"
"Cash in My Pocket"
Music video
"Stop Me" on YouTube

Background and release[edit]

In 2007, the song was re-composed as "Stop Me" with additional lyrics from the song "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes by British DJ Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather on the vocals. Merriweather admitted in an interview with The Guardian that he was not very familiar with the original before he recorded Mark Ronson's revised version. He explained: "Mark said, 'I want you to sing on this – it's my favourite Smiths song,' so I listened to it. I'd heard it once before, but I was never a Smiths fan. But I thought it was beautiful."[16] The song was later released as a single on 2 April 2007 on Columbia Records with the shortened name "Stop Me",[17] and it was included on the compilation album Version. The single includes a cover version of Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows" with vocals by Domino Kirke. The single reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.

The music video, released at the same time as the song, features a man who finds a pair of trainers that control him and force him to run along the motorway near the Blackwall Tunnel. This version was released in the United Kingdom. The international version showed people crying animated tears.

The song featured prominently in the opening scenes of the premiere of the second half of Nip/Tuck's fifth season. The song also featured on the 2013 show reel for Seattle-based b-boy crew, Art of Movement, uploaded by Korean-American singer and member of the crew, Jay Park.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

"Stop Me" gained considerable praise and reference, as well as controversy from loyal Smiths fans despite its chart success being the highest UK chart position for a Smiths song.[19] The music review site ThisisfakeDIY gave the single a 5-star rating, citing that its popularity stemmed from its abstraction from a typical Smiths song, resembling a "sweeping, orchestral pop song with horns to boot … soulful, evocative vocals ... a stirring mix".[19] This song was number 80 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[20][21] The cover received a mixed review from musicOMH reviewer Jenny Cole, who remarked that the notion of "discoing up a Smiths track" was a "travesty", and queried that "Morrissey would no doubt hate the idea of someone who has previously worked with Christina Aguilera and Robbie Williams" re-composing his songs.[16] However, the reviewer remarked that despite its composition "in a mad way it works … Electronic, cheery and danceable, it's really not half bad" but that the addition of The Supremes to the song was "just mad".[16]

Other versions[edit]

A slightly shorter edited version (where the lyrics start at the first verse) was released to mainstream radio in October 2007.[22] A remix by Kissy Sell Out features on Ministry of Sound 2008 compilation The Annual. Trance DJ Paul Oakenfold also remixed the song exclusively for his 2007 compilation album Greatest Hits & Remixes. Live versions by Mark Ronson and/or Stu Zender featuring Merriweather have appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (in July 2007), BBC Radio 1 and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. After the win and performance of Ronson at the 2008 edition of the Brit Awards, "Stop Me" climbed as high as number 31 on the iTunes Top 100 and re-entered the UK Top 75 Singles chart at number 51.

Track listings[edit]

  • CD maxi single
  1. "Stop Me" - 3:54
  2. "Stop Me" (A Chicken Lips Malfunction) - 7:05
  3. "Stop Me" (Dirty South remix) - 8:24
  4. "No One Knows" - 4:40
  • CD single
  1. "Stop Me"
  2. "No One Knows"
  • 10" vinyl
  1. "Stop Me"
  2. "No One Knows"



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Silver 200,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Marr later gave this guitar to Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.[2]
  2. ^ Morrissey recalled Travis allocating a budget of twelve-thousand pounds for both videos.[9]


  1. ^ a b Lime, Harry. The Smiths. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-244-17580-1. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  2. ^ Bosso, Joe (4 March 2015). "10 Questions for Johnny Marr". MusicRadar. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (1 August 2017). "Rob Sheffield Ranks All 73 Smiths Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Brown, Len (7 April 2010). Meetings with Morrissey. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-240-7.
  5. ^ a b Luerssen, John D. (August 2015). The Smiths FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Most Important British Band of the 1980s. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4950-4596-7.
  6. ^ "'Rock Band' terá músicas do rapper Snoop Dogg". Pop & Arte (in Brazilian Portuguese). 3 September 2010.
  7. ^ Martins, Chris (24 May 2013). "Watch the Smiths Back Morrissey at His First Solo Gig in 1988". Spin. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  8. ^ Zuberi, Nabeel (2001). Sounds English : transnational popular music. Urbana [u.a.]: University of Illinois Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0252026201.
  9. ^ a b Morrissey (4 November 2014). Autobiography. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-310750-7.
  10. ^ Browne, David (3 December 1987). "Strangeways, Here We Come". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Strangeways, Here We Come – The Smiths". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  12. ^ Wolk, Douglas (18 November 2011). "The Smiths: The Smiths Complete". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  13. ^ "The 20 best Smiths tracks, as voted by NME.COM users". NME. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Ranking: Every Song by The Smiths from Worst to Best". Consequence of Sound. 21 February 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  15. ^ Price, Andy (17 August 2021). "The Smiths' 20 greatest guitar moments, ranked". Guitar. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Cole, Jenny (2007) "Mark Ronson – Stop Me: track review" OMH Media: musicOMH
  17. ^ "New Releases: Singles". Music Week. 31 March 2007. p. 37.
  18. ^ Park, Jay. "Art of Movement (2013)". Art of Movement. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  19. ^ a b McCaighy, Stuart (2007) "Mark Ronson – Stop Me: Track Review" ThisisfakeDIY: DIY Records
  20. ^ The 100 Best Songs of 2007 Rolling Stone, 11 December 2007; Retrieved 21 December 2007
  21. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine The 100 Best Songs Of 2007 Archived 26 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine PopCrunch, 13 December 2007
  22. ^ Mainstream Radio Promo Only, October 2007
  23. ^ "Issue 904" ARIA Top 100 Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Hits of the World – Eurocharts" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 119, no. 17. 28 April 2007. p. 51. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather – Stop Me" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather – Stop Me". Top Digital Download.
  27. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  28. ^ "Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather – Stop Me". Swiss Singles Chart.
  29. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ "Mark Ronson Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard.
  31. ^ "Mark Ronson Chart History (Dance Mix/Show Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  32. ^ "End of Year Singles Chart Top 100 – 2007". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  33. ^ "British single certifications – Mark Ronson ft D Merriweather – Stop Me". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 29 July 2020.