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Sweet and Tender Hooligan

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Musical composition copyright ©1987 Morrissey/Marr Songs Ltd. (PRS)
Worldwide rights administered by Warner Bros. Music Ltd. (PRS)
North American rights administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)
Original material is copyrighted ©2003 and may not be reproduced
in any manner or distributed outside of everything2.com without
the author's express written consent. All rights reserved.

Lyrics reproduced under fair use policy as defined here.

Authors: Johnny Marr, Steven Morrissey
Performed by: The Smiths
Album: Louder Than Bombs, March-May 1987
(World: WEA 93833-2 · USA: Sire 9 25569-2 · Japan: WEA WPCR-306 · Canada: Sire CD-25569)
Singles:
Released as a B-side to "Sheila Take A Bow" in Europe and Australia, April 1987
(UK- Rough Trade 12": RTT196 · Other labels worldwide, including CBS and Line)
A-side US release, May 23, 1995 (Reprise CD5: 9 43525-2 · 12": 9 43525-0)
Recorded at: BBC Studios, London on December 17, 1986
Produced by: John Porter for the John Peel Show on Radio 1

Personal notes
A very up tempo, danceable tune from The Smiths' formidable catalog, "Sweet and Tender Hooligan" is one of their handful of throwaway songs. Recorded for John Peel's Radio 1 show shortly after the release of their "Best Album of All Times" LP The Queen Is Dead in 1986, "Hooligan" was never treated to a proper multi-track studio-mixed recording, and was very rarely performed in concert by the band, if ever. Most of us are familiar with this song from the LP release Louder Than Bombs, but it also appeared as a B-side on a variety of single releases worldwide, and somehow managed to merit its own stateside A-side single release in 1995 (eight years after the band's breakup). Discounting some bootleg live recordings which may or may not exist, the Peel Sessions track is the only one that ever made it on an authorized release.

Lyrically, "Hooligan" deals with an incorrigible youth with whom Moz is clearly smitten. The subject is an apparent arsonist and murderer, but we are implored to disregard his crimes as foolish indiscretions and to take pity on the poor lad. After all, he's "sweet and tender" - in the sack, presumably. It's difficult to discern exactly what Morrissey would have us really think about this ruffian, except that he is clearly guilty of his crimes but a very good lay - so that makes it "OK". Is this sarcasm? Or is Moz suggesting that "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone"?

It seems more likely that Moz is making a statement about the death penalty. This becomes clearer in the repetitive lyrics at the song's end, where the phrase "In the midst of life we are in death" is stated, parodied, and extended over and over via the exuberant refrains of "et cetera!" This phrase comes from the writings of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and is also found in the Burial Service of the Book of Common Prayer, one of the major works of English Literature. It is reinforced by the parodic line "In the midst of life we are in debt," which is taken from a dramatic skit by British comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The verses composed mainly of "ETC!" are, in this writer's opinion, a case of Moz beating the listener over the head in order to make his case. Of course, this is all just my own supposition; I could be wrong.

Regardless of the moral or political haranguing in this song, it is one of Johnny Marr's most lively compositions. Mike Joyce's beat is infectious, and in spite of the quick and dirty BBC recording session, all The Smiths' best trademarked guitar effects are present here. Marr is on fire, and Andy Rourke lays down a bass line that is beautifully tight with Joyce's percussion. "Hooligan" is a song that displays The Smiths' musical mastery at its peak, but which (for whatever reason) they decided was not suitable for widespread distribution.

It's kind of ironic that this song has never been noded before. E2 is filled with "sweet and tender" hooligans, it seems.


Lyrics

He was a sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
And he said that he'd never, never do it again
And of course he won't
(oh, not until the next time)

He was a sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
And he swore that he'll never, never do it again
And of course he won't
(oh, not until the next time)

Poor old man
He had an "accident" with a three-bar fire
But that's OK
Because he wasn't very happy anyway
Poor woman
Strangled in her very own bed as she read
But that's OK
Because she was old and she would have died anyway
DON'T BLAME

The sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
'Cause he'll never, never, never, never, never, never do it again
(not until the next time)

Jury, you've heard every word
So before you decide
Would you look into those "Mother-me" eyes
I love you for you, my love, you my love
You my love, you my love
Jury, you've heard every word
But before you decide
Would you look into those "Mother-me" eyes
I love you for you, my love, you my love
I love you just for you, my love
Don't blame

The sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
Because he'll never, never do it again
And "In the midst of life we are in death ETC."
The sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
Because he'll never, never do it again
And "In the midst of life we are in death ETC."

ETC! ETC! ETC! ETC!
IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH ETC!


Source information:
http://tmregistry.com/passion/smiths-d.htm
http://tmregistry.com/passion/smiths-db.htm
http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~moz/nicked.htm

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