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

Album: Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

Songfacts®:

  • This song is written from the perspective of a cheating drunkard who tells his wife increasingly absurd lies in an attempt to answer for his absence.
  • This was banned by the BBC because of the lyric, "And the pain was enough to make a shy, bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder." It was deemed insensitive as it came out not long after the Hungerford massacre, when 27-year-old Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people in Berkshire, England. The Smiths subsequently decided to not release the song in the UK.
  • The promotional video features front man, Morrissey and a cluster of young men in Smiths shirts cycling around Manchester. One of the buildings that the cyclists pass is Salford Lads Club, a youth recreational club located in the Ordsall area of Manchester. Allan Clarke, front man of The Hollies, and Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills and Nash, both attended this club as boys. In 1986, The Smiths were photographed standing in front of the building for the inside gatefold of their album, The Queen Is Dead. The club has since become a place of pilgrimage for Smiths fans seeking to recreate the legendary image.
  • The single artwork is a still of the British actor, Murray Head, from the 1966 film, The Family Way.
  • This features on The Smiths' fourth and final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come. Both Morrissey and guitarist, Johnny Marr have stated that this is their favorite Smiths album. Morrissey told Melody Maker in 1987: "Strangeways, Here We Come perfects every lyrical and musical notion The Smiths have ever had. It isn't dramatically, obsessively different in any way and I'm quite glad it isn't because I've been happy with the structure we've had until now. It's far and away the best record we've ever made."
  • In 2007, the British producer, Mark Ronson reorchestrated this song with "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes. The cover – which featured Daniel Merriweather on lead vocals – attracted severe criticism from many Smiths fans, including Alex Turner, front man of the Arctic Monkeys, who told NME: "Let me tell you what I can't stand - that f***ing R&B cover version of 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before.'" Mass vilification aside, the song was a smash hit, peaking at #2 on the UK chart – the highest ever chart position for a Smiths song. Ronson later defended his decision to reorchestrate the track and even claimed Morrissey and Marr approved of the cover: "I found out that Morrissey liked it, and especially liked Daniel's vocal, you can imagine how I felt when Marr approved it as well. This is not an apology but a way of showing respect for people who love The Smiths like I do."

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