I Starting Something/Suedehead connection

DrStatham

Active Member
Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but does anyone else think there may be a connection between I Started Something I Couldn't Finish and Suedehead?

One interpretation of I Started Something is Moz getting into a relationship that he doesn't really want and now feeling guilty, not knowing how to break it off.

One interpretation of Suedehead is perhaps Moz breaking off a relationship in a way that he feels guilty about, and now the person won't leave him alone.

We can assume they were written relatively close together, so I like to think Suedehead is the follow up to I Started Something I Couldn't Finish...

Thoughts?
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but does anyone else think there may be a connection between I Started Something I Couldn't Finish and Suedehead?

One interpretation of I Started Something is Moz getting into a relationship that he doesn't really want and now feeling guilty, not knowing how to break it off.

One interpretation of Suedehead is perhaps Moz breaking off a relationship in a way that he feels guilty about, and now the person won't leave him alone.

We can assume they were written relatively close together, so I like to think Suedehead is the follow up to I Started Something I Couldn't Finish...

Thoughts?
Interesting idea. I'm a sucker for an 'interpretation thread', but I don't hear a connection between those two, myself. They seem to have two very different feels - I Started Something is bolder and almost smutty - although with his usual relationship ambivalence of wanting/not wanting; Suedehead I always think has a sort of haunted quality about it, full of awkwardness and regret. Both are teasingly opaque though. You do get the feeling they're both about someone specific, and a particular incident or moment in time.
 

DrStatham

Active Member
Interesting idea. I'm a sucker for an 'interpretation thread', but I don't hear a connection between those two, myself. They seem to have two very different feels - I Started Something is bolder and almost smutty - although with his usual relationship ambivalence of wanting/not wanting; Suedehead I always think has a sort of haunted quality about it, full of awkwardness and regret. Both are teasingly opaque though. You do get the feeling they're both about someone specific, and a particular incident or moment in time.

Yes I agree stylistically they are very different, probably not written at once, but just about potentially one person as you say, written potentially many months apart.
Who knows though, I just like to think it is a sequel; different style, same story.
 
D

Deleted member 25370

Guest
Yes I agree stylistically they are very different, probably not written at once, but just about potentially one person as you say, written potentially many months apart.
Who knows though, I just like to think it is a sequel; different style, same story.
pretty sure that they can be listened to like two sequels or chapters of a longer story despite their stylistic differences. as you have already pointed out there is a topical closeness. probably there are also some other smiths or morrissey songs that would fit this central theme
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
Suedehead is pretty obviously about Johnny post-Smiths, I always thought. Especially as he did go through a suedehead hairstyle period.
 

DrStatham

Active Member
Suedehead is pretty obviously about Johnny post-Smiths, I always thought. Especially as he did go through a suedehead hairstyle period.

Is it obvious? So soon after I personally doubt it. At the time he had no reason to be sorry did he? And I don't see how the verses relate to Johnny Marr at all.

Certainly possible, but I wouldn't ascribe that meaning to it myself...
 

javert

Super Moderator
Moderator
Subscriber
There are a lot of Smiths songs, which i'm sure, Morrissey then released as his own Solo. - Much of Viva Hate, from the lyrical perspective will of most likely been Smiths ammo, but without Johnny.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I always thought that i started something was about starting the Smiths, the line "with a hard faced 3 word gesture" being hand in glove, though i don t think its hard faced and putting a hand in glove a gesture ? it is a metaphor for closeness but a gesture ?
I heard on good authority some years ago that Suedehead s lyrics are about his alleged relationship with Mike Joyce.
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
Suedehead is pretty obviously about Johnny post-Smiths, I always thought. Especially as he did go through a suedehead hairstyle period.
Is it obvious? So soon after I personally doubt it. At the time he had no reason to be sorry did he? And I don't see how the verses relate to Johnny Marr at all.

Certainly possible, but I wouldn't ascribe that meaning to it myself...

Wasn't there a story (and I might get this wrong as I can't remember) that this was about Billy Mackenzie (in addition to William, it was really nothing)? The story I read was that during their supposedly chemistry-free meeting at Morrissey's flat, Billy stole Morrissey's biography of James Dean - hence the theme for the video. Although that makes the song title a bit of a puzzle since Billy, as far as I know, was fairly floppy of hair at the time. Unless he had a temporarily savage haircut :lbf:

I'd be surprised if it's about Johnny, not least because of the 'good lay' outtro.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Wasn't there a story (and I might get this wrong as I can't remember) that this was about Billy Mackenzie (in addition to William, it was really nothing)? The story I read was that during their supposedly chemistry-free meeting at Morrissey's flat, Billy stole Morrissey's biography of James Dean - hence the theme for the video. Although that makes the song title a bit of a puzzle since Billy, as far as I know, was fairly floppy of hair at the time. Unless he had a temporarily savage haircut :lbf:

I'd be surprised if it's about Johnny, not least because of the 'good lay' outtro.
Quite right.
From Mozipedia:
"Because MacKenzie’s homosexuality was no secret among the press, many were quick to misconstrue the exact nature of their brief dalliance, adding fuel to the popular theory that ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ may be a coded message to The Associates’ singer. If the title has any connection with MacKenzie, it probably refers to his casual theft of one of Morrissey’s James DEAN books during that fabled meeting. ‘He walked off with [it], which is a persistent cause of anxiety,’ he claimed. ‘I was quite speechless. I watched him walk out the door. It wasn’t my favourite book but these things are sacrosanct. Billy has got this sense of uncontrollable mischief, though. I think that’s exactly how he wants to be seen.’
It wasn’t until 1993, having reunited with Rankine, that MacKenzie addressed the rumour with their misspelt ‘Stephen, You’re Really Something’, an uncharacteristic glam rock homage. Unfortunately, the song wasn’t released until 2000, three years after MacKenzie committed suicide at the age of 39. For the last few years of his life, the singer had battled with clinical depression as his career became an increasingly irregular sequence of collaborations, cameos and contractual disappointments."


Regards,
FWD.
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
Quite right.
From Mozipedia:
"Because MacKenzie’s homosexuality was no secret among the press, many were quick to misconstrue the exact nature of their brief dalliance, adding fuel to the popular theory that ‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ may be a coded message to The Associates’ singer. If the title has any connection with MacKenzie, it probably refers to his casual theft of one of Morrissey’s James DEAN books during that fabled meeting. ‘He walked off with [it], which is a persistent cause of anxiety,’ he claimed. ‘I was quite speechless. I watched him walk out the door. It wasn’t my favourite book but these things are sacrosanct. Billy has got this sense of uncontrollable mischief, though. I think that’s exactly how he wants to be seen.’
It wasn’t until 1993, having reunited with Rankine, that MacKenzie addressed the rumour with their misspelt ‘Stephen, You’re Really Something’, an uncharacteristic glam rock homage. Unfortunately, the song wasn’t released until 2000, three years after MacKenzie committed suicide at the age of 39. For the last few years of his life, the singer had battled with clinical depression as his career became an increasingly irregular sequence of collaborations, cameos and contractual disappointments."


Regards,
FWD.
Ah, thanks FWD, I knew I'd read it somewhere. So it still doesn't necessarily connect Billy with Suedehead - although the James Dean link (which I always thought a bit odd, if visually stunning) is curious.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Ah, thanks FWD, I knew I'd read it somewhere. So it still doesn't necessarily connect Billy with Suedehead - although the James Dean link (which I always thought a bit odd, if visually stunning) is curious.
There's not much out there that does tbf.
This is kind of the accepted view:
From: “Only If You Are Really Interested”
Celebrity, Gender, Desire and the World of Morrissey:

"Suedehead recounts a sexual encounter: the narrator describes the constant returning of a previous lover, though her or his return makes things awkward for him. Though the experience was a good one, the narrator is sorry about it, and sorry to have the lover return repeatedly. When the subject of the song tried to read the narrator’s diary, there was nothing
but blank pages; the narrator wrote nothing of their relationship."

It's David Bret (in The Scandal & Passion) that references slightly more that links Mackenzie to Suedehead:

"Suedehead owes its title to one of the novels in the Richard Allen trilogy (Skinhead, Suedehead, Suedehead Escapes - 1971, 1972 and 1973 respectively), which follows the unpleasant adventures of anti-hero Joe Hawkins and his group of racist, anti-gay cronies - harrowing reading and absolutely nothing to do with the song, though Kris Kirk once suggested that this was Morrissey poking fun at Billy Mackenzie, who was just starting to lose his hair at this time. The lyric calls to mind Mackenzie's alleged visit to Morrissey's flat; it certainly refers to an intrusion of privacy along with the unwanted telephone calls and 'silly notes'. Morrissey confessed that the song was about someone, but would not elaborate - and with a shrug of the shoulder ends the piece by declaring, 'Still, but it was a good lay,' suggesting that though the intrusion might have been unwelcome, the outcome had certainly proved worthwhile."

Regards,
FWD.
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
There's not much out there that does tbf.
This is kind of the accepted view:
From: “Only If You Are Really Interested”
Celebrity, Gender, Desire and the World of Morrissey:

"Suedehead recounts a sexual encounter: the narrator describes the constant returning of a previous lover, though her or his return makes things awkward for him. Though the experience was a good one, the narrator is sorry about it, and sorry to have the lover return repeatedly. When the subject of the song tried to read the narrator’s diary, there was nothing
but blank pages; the narrator wrote nothing of their relationship."

It's David Bret (in The Scandal & Passion) that references slightly more that links Mackenzie to Suedehead:

"Suedehead owes its title to one of the novels in the Richard Allen trilogy (Skinhead, Suedehead, Suedehead Escapes - 1971, 1972 and 1973 respectively), which follows the unpleasant adventures of anti-hero Joe Hawkins and his group of racist, anti-gay cronies - harrowing reading and absolutely nothing to do with the song, though Kris Kirk once suggested that this was Morrissey poking fun at Billy Mackenzie, who was just starting to lose his hair at this time. The lyric calls to mind Mackenzie's alleged visit to Morrissey's flat; it certainly refers to an intrusion of privacy along with the unwanted telephone calls and 'silly notes'. Morrissey confessed that the song was about someone, but would not elaborate - and with a shrug of the shoulder ends the piece by declaring, 'Still, but it was a good lay,' suggesting that though the intrusion might have been unwelcome, the outcome had certainly proved worthwhile."

Regards,
FWD.
Ah, fascinating stuff, FWD. I would normally take the David Bret source with a pinch of salt since there are so many basic errors in that book, but Morrissey poking fun at Billy losing his hair does have a ring of truth about it somehow! Thanks for the info.
 
Suedehead sounds to me as though it refers to a one night stand which the narrator has grown to regret-“Still, it was a good lay.”. I Started Something... seems to relate to a more sustained dalliance-not necessarily romantic-which has inspired ambivalence in both parties.
 
D

Deleted member 25370

Guest
so it all boils down to insider sex stories. sounds ordinary, keeping in mind that the smiths were supposedly such a "different" thing. i wouldnt be able to pass a judgement on that. i wonder how do these two things go together?
 

Jamie

Bluff, Ardour & Assoc.
Ah, fascinating stuff, FWD. I would normally take the David Bret source with a pinch of salt since there are so many basic errors in that book, but Morrissey poking fun at Billy losing his hair does have a ring of truth about it somehow! Thanks for the info.

The same David Bret who claimed the first line of "I'd Love To" was "Gay, I lay awake?"

I'd wager a whole truck of salt. :lbf:
 

Dingoatemybabby

Active Member
so it all boils down to insider sex stories. sounds ordinary, keeping in mind that the smiths were supposedly such a "different" thing. i wouldnt be able to pass a judgement on that. i wonder how do these two things go together?

I think that pop songs about homosexual relationships count as "different". Before the Smiths, not a lot of male singers overtly sang about other men. I remember Don McLean's song "Vincent" (about Vincent Van Gogh) got some stick for being "gay" - just because he was singing about a man, even a historical figure!

Also, I don't know if any of you have ever written lyrics, but a lot of songs are not just about one thing or person. Lyricists will collect good lines as they occur to them and can put them together to see if they hang together well, either thematically or how they sound sung. Individual lines can be about a certain person or situation, but the next line or verse can be about something else. It's all fun conjecture though!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
All I know is the 'when you know it makes things hard for me' line is a great bit of penile erection innuendo (and in it's Carry On styling, entirely up Morrissey's street to make such a reference). I don't read the lyrics as the narrator feeling guilty for breaking off a relationship, but someone who is clearly still in love/lust. The narrator is attracted to the subject of the song, and disturbed by it.
 

Dingoatemybabby

Active Member
Just heard an interview with Stephen Street on the Bernard Butler radio show. He mentioned Suedehead as one of his favorite songs he's ever worked on. Took a lot of potshots at Morrissey though, for instance not wanting an engineer in the studio, just him. Also planted the break up squarely on Morrissey's shoulders for getting rid of the manager which was the last straw for Johnny. He mentioned Johnny would definitely have taken the Smiths in a different musical direction had they stayed together.

Also interesting, Bernard brought up that Johnny played bass on "Well I Wonder" although Stephen Street couldn't remember that.
 
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