This punk classic was inspired by some dialogue ("Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have") in the 1955 film Guys & Dolls.
The band's songwriter Pete Shelley described how he came to write this song in the Guardian newspaper February 24, 2006: "The song dates back to November 1977. We were on a roll. It was only six months since we'd finished the first album. Up in Manchester this was what we used to dream of... a whirlwind of tours, interviews, TV. We were living the life. One night in Edinburgh we were in a guest house TV lounge watching the musical Guys and Dolls. This line leaped out - 'Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have?' The next day the van stopped outside a post office and I wrote the lyrics there. I did have a certain person in mind, but I'll save that for my kiss'n'tell. The music just seemed to follow, fully formed."
In 1987 when Fine Young Cannibals covered this, their more laid back, soulful version peaked at #9 in the UK. They recorded the song after being asked by the director Jonathan Demme to provide him with a song for his upcoming film Something Wild. It is featured on the film's soundtrack released as "Ever Fallen in Love."
In an interview with Uncut magazine, Shelley recalled: "The opening line was originally 'You piss on my natural emotions,' but because 'Orgasm Addict' hadn't been getting radio play because of it's title, I needed something a bit subtler. So I came up with 'spurn.' It had the same sort of disregard, but wasn't so likely to offend!"
In the same Uncut interview the song's producer Martin Rushent recalled: "Pete played me 'Ever Fallen In Love…' for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I'd sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer."
The story of how The Buzzcocks came up with their name: In February 1976 Shelley and guitarist Howard Devoto read an article about a band called the Sex Pistols who had just played in London. "It was a realization of someone else doing what we already wanted to do," Shelley told Reuters. The pair borrowed a car and drove from Manchester down to London to seek out the Sex Pistols. "We bought a copy of Time Out, which had no mention of them at all," recalled Shelley. "But in the magazine was a preview for a TV series called Rock Follies. The headline was, 'It's the buzz, cock." And that's how we got the name."
Thea Gilmore, Pete Yorn, Will Young, Billy Talent and Anti-Flag are among the acts to cover this song. The New York City band SUSU released their version in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They explained: "A good cover is hard to find. Turns out this one was a telling tale, a perfect sonic and energetic fit. We were a brand new band, consummated on Valentine's Day, in the pink of our five-week European honeymoon. We found ourselves leaving behind the tour we had just fallen in love with due to circumstances beyond our control - a pandemic. Proper heartbreak. But we all know the first breakup never sticks."