This song is an attack on the demanding and merciless media. Front man, Morrissey, describes being hounded by the press and even compares himself to the French martyr, Joan of Arc.
The shrill voice in the background of this song is Morrissey's tuned to a higher pitch. This caused a great deal of hilarity at the time of recording. "He could hear himself sounding like one of The Chipmunks or Pinky and Perky and he was rolling on the floor laughing," bassist, Andy Rourke, recalled to NME. "Maybe in the end they just took a sample of him singing 'Bigmouth…' normally and tuned it up because he was laughing so much he couldn't pull it together." The sleeve notes credit the backing vocals to "Ann Coates," which is a pun on Ancoats, a district in Manchester, England.
The lyrics refer to Joan of Arc's melting hearing aid. At the time of the song's release, Morrissey had taken to wearing a hearing aid when performing, in a show of support for a hearing-impaired fan who had recently written to him: "I did it to show the fan that deafness shouldn't be some sort of stigma that you try to hide."
Guitarist, Johnny Marr, told Guitar Player
that this was The Smiths' answer to The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash
": "With 'Bigmouth Strikes Again', I was trying to write my 'Jumpin' Jack Flash.' I wanted something that was a rush all the way through, without a distinct middle eight as such."
The British rock band, Placebo, did a cover version of this song, in which Joan of Arc's "Walkman" was replaced with a "Discman." Nowadays, when Morrissey performs this song live, he changes it to an "iPod."
This song inspired Noel Gallagher to write the Oasis number, "My Big Mouth."
A photograph of James Dean was used for the single artwork. In 1983, before The Smiths hit the big time, Morrissey published a book about the actor called James Dean Is Not Dead. Morrissey later spoke of his affinity with Dean: "Nobody had a passion for him as I did - for that constant uneasiness with life."
At Marr's insistence, this was the first single to be released from The Queen Is Dead
. The guitarist told One Rad Song
: "Everyone wanted to put out 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
' as the first single but I insisted that 'Bigmouth...' should be the first new thing people heard from The Queen Is Dead
. I'm glad I did."
Kirsty MacColl sang backing vocals on this. Some time later, Johnny Marr briefly became MacColl's London tenant and the pair began writing together. The working relationship resulted in several memorable songs, including MacColl's hit single "Walking Down Madison."