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Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is a single by The Smiths, released on 21 May 1984.

DescriptionEdit

The track can be considered as an important milestone in the early history of The Smiths. "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" was the band's first single to reach the 10th position in the UK Singles Chart. It also marked the beginning of Stephen Street's work with the band as producer and engineer. The title, lyrics and (comically) morose atmosphere of the song helped to seal The Smiths' image as that of a camp, lugubrious band.

The B-side of the LP is the controversial Suffer Little Children, which discussed the infamous Moors Murders in 1960s UK.

As with other Smiths tracks, the single does not have a proper music video per se. Footage of Morrissey and the band miming the song in a studio and derelict land was filmed for Channel 4's Earsay on 31 April, 1984. Rhino Entertainment elected to use footage from the second performance of the song on Top of the Pops when releasing the song on YouTube.[1]

BackgroundEdit

"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" was first composed by Johnny Marr in the Iroquois Hotel in New York, along with "Girl Afraid" on Marr's Gibson ES-355. At that point in time, the band was to play in Danceteria for New Year's Eve, although this performance was scrapped after drummer Mike Joyce contracted chicken pox.

MixesEdit

3 known different mixes were recorded. The first was premiered on television show Earsay. This mix had a shorter intro (6 seconds less compared to the final version) and was more muffled. The second mix is the infamous and uncommon extended version, pressed only on the first batch of the 12" single. This extended version featured a repetition of the last verse, "In my life....." at the end before the outro. The final mix was the released version, with the longer intro and shorter end part.

ArtworkEdit

The artwork was co-ordinated by the usual duo of Morrissey and Rough Trade employee Jo Slee. The album cover featured Viv Nicholson, notable for her win in the Football Pool lottery in the 60s. This photograph has drawn controversy for allegedly being styled to resemble Myra Hindley, participant in the Moors Murders. A photograph of English actor Albert Finney was reportedly considered for the artwork, although he declined.

LiveEdit

The track was first premiered in the British leg of The Smiths' debut tour. This live version was noticeably different in its pitch, the guitar and vocals being an octave higher. Chords were removed and added, and there were differences in the lyrics (e.g. 'What she said to me...' in the live version instead of 'What she asked of me...' in the final version) The track was always introduced as a new single from the band, although the final version would be released only months later.

The last known time this track was performed live was in 1986, in the Irvine Meadows concert at Laguna Hills, California.

The track is one of the few Smiths songs Morrissey has not covered in his concerts. Johnny Marr demonstrated the riff and explained the backstory in an episode of NME TV, in February 2013.[2]

ConcertsEdit

this list is incomplete. you can help by adding more known concerts with proof.

Hammersmith (1984)Edit

The first known performance of the song. The version performed was an early mix, in a different key and with added chords and lyrical differences. Morrissey introduced the track as '...our new single', although at that point in time, it would not see release for a few months.

Anson Rooms (1984)Edit

Similar to the Hammersmith performance, this was performed before the release of the single.

Earsay (31st March 1984)Edit

Not a live performance per se. The second mix of the song, with a shorter intro (though other extant recordings on YouTube indicate that part of the intro simply wasn't taped in predominant videos on YouTube) and more audio muffle (although it could well be due to quality issues with taped versions on YouTube or broadcasting itself) , was played as the band mimed in a studio and in the backyard of a Duval for Dexion warehouse in Manchester.

Top of the Pops (1984)Edit

The single was promoted twice on Top of the Pops, on May 31st and June 14th of 1984.

Madrid, Spain (May 1985)Edit

Marr played his Les Paul Custom guitar in this performance of the by-then released track.

Studio 54, Catalonia (1985)Edit

A live performance was recorded in Studio 54 of Televisió de Catalunya. It was broadcasted on "Arsenal: Especial The Smiths" by TV-3. Technical difficulties were evident during this set, as Morrissey's voice sounded dry and nearly cut out by the prominent instruments.

Irvine Meadows (1986)Edit

A miniscule kick drum part was added to the intro by Mike Joyce. From still images of the concert, the guitar part appears to have been played on the Custom Telecaster.

InstrumentsEdit

SingleEdit

TriviaEdit

  • The title is said to have been inspired by Morrissey muse Sandie Shaw's single "Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now".
  • The journalist Andrew Collins borrowed the song's title for the name of his autobiographical book, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: My Difficult Student 80s, published in 2004.
  • The title was borrowed once more for a separate graphic memoir by Andre Jordan.
  • The song was covered in 1988 by Act as a bonus track of the 12" single "I Can't Escape from You" and the CD version of the album Laughter, Tears and Rage, featuring scat singing from "Lucky" Gordon, infamous for his role in the Profumo affair.
  • Jeremy Hardy famously attempted a rendition of the song on comedy panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
  • Gary Sparrow, the protagonist from the BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart made an effort to sing the song in the episode London Pride from season 5, accompanied by piano-playing, although it was not well received by Phoebe. As with a running gag in the series, Gary passes the song off as his own creation.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Rhino Entertainment: The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now (Official Music Video)
  2. The Smiths, 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' - Song Stories

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