In 1986, front man, Morrissey, explained to Melody Maker that this song was about him not feeling at ease in his home town of Manchester: "On 'Never Had No One Ever', there's a line that goes, 'When you walk without ease, on these, the very streets where you were raised, I had a really bad dream, it lasted 20 years, seven months and 27 days. Never had no one ever.' It was the frustration that I felt at the age of 20 when I still didn't feel easy walking around the streets on which I'd been born, where all my family had lived - they're originally from Ireland but had been here since the '50s. It was a constant confusion to me why I never really felt, 'This is my patch. This is my home. I know these people. I can do what I like, because this is mine.' It never was. I could never walk easily."
Guitarist, Johnny Marr, told Select in 1993 that this song evolved out of a self-imposed pressure to deliver a "great piece of art": "The most recent Smiths track which I've listened to was 'Never Had No One Ever,' and I'd forgotten how good it was. But that came from the mad self-absorption that we were into. I knew at that time that I had to make what was to me a great piece of art. To me there was no difference between the pressure I was under and the pressure Charlie Parker or Keith Richards or Lenny Bruce was under. Which might sound pretentious for someone who's supposed to be a down-to-earth Manchester lad, but I've never been that down-to-earth. I don't care too much for being down-to-earth."
In 1997, Marr revealed to The Guitar Magazine that this song - and album - was written in the midst of a very intense period for The Smiths: "It was a very dark album that came out of a very dark period. Once was enough, making an album like that - I was really putting myself out on the edge. I know that sounds very humourless, and we did have a good time making it, but it was a bit like that. We had no manager, so me and Morrissey were trying to run the whole band, plus we were still on an independent label, but out of all that adversity we still managed to make this great album. A song like 'Never Had No One Ever' could only have come out of that mindset – f--ked up."