Girlfriend in a Coma is a single by The Smiths, released in August 1987. It managed to reach the 13th position in the UK Singles Chart.


This was the first of three singles from Strangeways, Here We Come, and as such included the last Smiths original track to be recorded, I Keep Mine Hidden. Included and recorded at the same session was a cover of Cilla Black's Work is a Four-Letter Word. Morrissey's insistence on recording the song incurred Johnny Marr's wrath, leading to the latter's departure from the band and the following split.

A music video was filmed, featuring a moving, lip-syncing image of Morrissey superimposed onto clips from the film The Leather Boys.

The theme was used as the main theme of The Drew Carey Show briefly, in 2002, after the lead character slipped into a coma in the story.

The synthesised strings, credited to Orchestrazia Ardwick were played by John Porter on an emulator.

Lyrics and musicEdit

The track begins with a short guitar intro, muffled by a bass part and rounded up with a reggae-ish drum beat. Synthesised strings play during the chorus.

The song has been seen as an allusion to the then-strained relationship between Morrissey and Johnny Marr, which led to the eventual death of The Smiths.


A demo version was recorded, with a reggae rhythm section and slightly altered parts; most notably, the demo track began with a reggae drum intro with muted guitar and bass harmonics. The demo lacked the synthesised strings present on the final version. The drum intro would remain in the final version, although slightly changed and washed out by the bass line and guitar part. The reggae bass part was transformed into a more Smiths-style bass part This was recorded at Good Earth Studios in Bath, England, in the spring of 1987. The demo was leaked in the bootleg LP The Smiths: Unreleased Demos and Instrumentals.


The track was never performed live by The Smiths, owing to the break-up shortly after the release of Strangeways and the single. Morrissey has covered the song live in concerts on occasion.


The cover features playwright Shelagh Delaney from a 1961 edition of A Taste of Honey. The photo was tinted grey for 7"s in all countries except in Australia where it was tinted green as for the 12"s. This was the second time Delaney appeared on a Smiths cover; she appeared as the cover star on the-then recently released Louder Than Bombs compilation.


  • Guitarist Johnny Marr credited the Bob Andy and Marcia song "Young, Gifted and Black" as musical inspiration for the track. This is most evident in the reggae monitor mix.