That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

Park the car at the side of the road
you should know
time's tide will smother you
and I will too

when you laugh about people who feel so very lonely
their only desire is to die
well I'm afraid it doesn't make me smile
I wish I could laugh

but that joke isn't funny anymore
it's too close to home and it's too near the bone
it's too close to home and it's too near the bone
more than you'll ever know

It was dark as I drove the point home
and on cold leather seats
well, it suddenly struck me
I just might die with a smile on my face after all

I've seen this happen in other people's lives
and now it's happening in mine


The Smiths Meat is murder

"A marvellous song with an excellent backwards guitar fade-out with the singer backing himself, endlessly repeating a plagiarised phrase. It's enigmatic sad lament, an inwards-looking reflection of his life as compared with the image he presents to the world, seems to point towards an urge to reveal his soul to the general public. Although repetition is a by-word in most of Morrissey's lyrics, this song is very noticeable for the build-up that the endless cycling of the same phrase creates. At times almost unbearably poignant, this song, as is par for the course, features a seemingly contradictory and ambiguous section.

Exactly why does he feel he might die with a smile on his face ? Is it the implied sexual activity on the "cold leather seats" ? Or is he planning on taking someone with him to his grave as he crashes his car, James Dean style ?

Can Morrissey be suggesting the irony of onlookers to his forthcoming funeral seeing his smiling corpse and wrongly assuming he has had a happy life ? David Amor gives a simpler explanation - the final verse as he "drove his point home" is followed by a victorious and celebratory finale, as, at last, it happens for him... This song was bizarrely released as a single, and its un-chartworthy nature was proven by The Smiths' second worst chart performance in the UK. There apparently are strong rumours that this song is about a journalist with whom Morrissey had a relationship. According to Dave Simpson in his Uncut article (August 1998), the unnamed journalist steadfastly refuses to discuss Morrissey to this day."

analysis by John Levon, , and republished with kind permission.