Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (1984) – The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now is is one of my favourite songs by The Smiths. If I was going to introduce someone to their music then I would present the following:

  • Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,
  • How Soon is Now,
  • William It was Really Nothing,
  • There is a Light that Never Goes Out, and
  • This Charming Man.

All 5 are classics of contemporary rock music in my opinion. This is the first of the big 5 to appear here in the music library project. What entails the ‘Music Library Project’?
What makes The Smiths so indelible to my ear is they are unrestrainedly honest, provocative and unfamiliar. A description I like about them is that ‘The Smiths are the band from the 80’s – most anti 80’s‘. I had a myriad of options with which video to present below of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, but I went with the stellar live version in concert (Translated in Spanish).

The lyrics here are so wickedly playful in Morrisseys’ usual self pitying rhetoric, but his intonation of voice in this song is something to behold. How he varies his cadence and inflection of the words ‘Now‘ and ‘Live or Die‘ is one for the Rock-Gods. Not to mention Johnny Marr’s fever-pitch riff just elevates this song to another level.

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
But heaven knows I’m miserable now
I was looking for a job and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

In my life, why do I give valuable time
To people who don’t care if I live or die?

Two lovers entwined pass me by
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

In reference to its opening verse, Morrissey once explained, “When I had no job I could pinpoint my depression, but when I did get a job, I was still depressed.” As the page Mockingbird discussed: He has enough self-knowledge to know that our real problems are rarely circumstantial (Mark 7)Morrissey is his own worst enemy, or, rather, the only person he despises more than himself is everyone else, the “lovers entwined” being just one more walking condemnation.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was released in May 1984 and reached No 10 in the UK Singles Chart making it their first top 10 single.

1. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – Wikipedia
2. Heaven Knows Morrissey is Miserable Now – mbird

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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8 comments on “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (1984) – The Smiths
  1. Badfinger (Max) says:

    With most bands…the singer is the one that is the focal point…for me with this band…it’s Marr. He is the engine to me that made that band go.

    • I have just spent the last half hour listening to this between the studio and live version. This song like ‘William…’ is just so fkn brilliant!

      I differ a little bit about the engine. I think it was an amazing synthesis between two great artists. Morrissey’s unashamed transparent lyrics and intonation of voice and Marr went to another level – way out there on guitar! They complemented each other so well. Also Morrissey went onto a very successful solo career with imitation Marr players and kicked arse.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        They did compliment each other…I guess Matt we all come from different directions…me being a guitar player…I really like what Marr does…but it took both of them.

      • Yeh, I gathered that Max.
        The presentation live of Morrissey (bisexual like mystique), not to mention his lyrics which uplifted / carried thousands of people who felt similarly; with Marr’s experimental expertise on guitar just grabbed people around the collar, I suppose.

  2. I didn’t know this at all – but heaven knows I’m less miserable now that I’ve heard it.

    • How marvellous to read from you Bruce! Really.

      The Smiths had this uncanny effect of making people feel less miserable, because people could connect to Morrissey’s plight of just speaking rudimentary and being self-pitying without political bs. That was unfamiliar in 80’s music of course.

  3. This could my theme song, as I’m a lifelong malcontent who’s never been truly happy or satisfied with my life. Sadly, I’m my own worst enemy. Good song tho’.

    • I’m a romantic pessimist and could relate a lot to these lyrics. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got. There are advantages to being unsatisfied. This song is the bee’s knees.

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