And if you have five seconds to spare
Then I’ll tell you the story of my life
Sixteen, clumsy and shy
I went to London and I
I booked myself in at the Y.W.C.A
I said “I like it here, can I stay?
I like it here, can I stay?
Do you have a vacancy for a back-scrubber?”
The lyrics above seem mostly taken from a fan-letter to Morrissey. Speaking to The Face in 1990, Morrissey said that the song was autobiographical. About the woman who writes the letter, he said, “Yes, that is all absolutely true. She does exist.” However, years later, when introducing the songs during a concert in New York, he said, “This is about someone who’s not really a full person.” Then added sarcastically, “Who could that be? I’ve no idea.”
This song to me signifies that no matter how famous and rich Morrissey is; it’s not actually going to change his life. He’ll always be 16, clumsy and shy. He even repeats, ‘It’s the story of my life‘ – like his fan who reached out. The song, written in 1986 by Johnny Marr and Morrissey – allegedly on the stairs of Mayfair Studios, London – is one of the lesser known songs by the group. It has remained a fan favourite, although rarely played live by Morrissey.
In case you were wondering, like I was when he referred to the Y.W.C.A and to work there as a ‘backscrubber’: The Y.W.C.A is the Young Women’s Christian Association; a welfare movement with branches in many countries that began in Britain in 1855.
Half a Person was released in 1987 on their compilation album The World Won’t Listen and reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart, staying there for 15 weeks. The album was conceived as a collection of the band’s singles and their B-sides from 1985 to 1987.