Study Guide

How Soon Is Now? Lyrics

Advertisement - Guide continues below

I am the son
And the heir
Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar

Quick Thought

As is the case with many of Morrissey's lyrics, fans disagree as to the meaning of this line.

Deep Thought

This is one of the most familiar lines from "How Soon Is Now?" But fans and analysts disagree as to its meaning. Some argue that Morrissey condemns shyness as a trait that's criminally obscene or lewd. Yet others argue that he uses vulgar in a different way in this line: as in common or ordinary. 

But even there, interpretations vary. Is Morrissey suggesting that this trait is "criminal" in its ubiquity—that is, the injustice lies in the fact that shyness is so common, so universal? Or is he suggesting that what's criminal is that he, a uniquely gifted writer, shares a trait with "common" people?

One of the reasons why Morrissey has been praised as such a profound lyricist is because his songs are filled with lines just like this. He constantly forces listeners to come up with their own interpretation of something that they are sure he has a very clear idea of in his head.

I am the son and heir
Of nothing in particular

Quick Thought

Morrissey took this line from Middlemarch, a late 19th-century novel by George Eliot.

Deep Thought

Morrissey's line is adapted from the lament voiced by Fred Vincy in George Eliot's novel, Middlemarch: "To be born the son of a Middlemarch manufacturer, and inevitable heir to nothing in particular."

Morrissey adapts the line to serve his purposes, as there really aren't that many parallels between the song's narrator and Eliot's character. Morrissey's autobiographical narrator is desperately lonely, while Vincy's problem is that he has more ambition than money. "Life was a poor business," Vincy says, "when a spirited young fellow with good appetite for the best of everything, had so poor an outlook."

One interesting parallel that does show up between Morrissey and Middlemarch's author, George Eliot, is the question of sexuality. George Eliot was actually the penname for a female writer, Mary Anne Evans. Evans wrote under a male pseudonym because she believed that people would take her work more seriously; knowing that she was a woman had nothing to do with her writing. 

Similarly, fans and critics have speculated as to Morrissey's sexuality for decades, wondering if he's heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual, but the singer has thus far avoided being labeled successfully. When asked about his sexuality, Morrissey often responds that his sexuality has nothing to do with his music.

I am human, and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Quick Thought

This line may explain why the producers of Charmed chose "How Soon Is Now?" as the show's theme song.

Deep Thought

A cover of "How Soon Is Now?" by Love Spit Love is the theme song for Charmed. This television show follows the adventures of four sister witches as they protect the world from warlocks and demons. They possess extraordinary powers, including the "power of three," but they're human and need to be loved just like everybody else does.

Not buying it? Another explanation for why "How Soon Is Now?" was chosen as the theme song for Charmed does exist, actually. In 1996, the Love Spit Love version of the song was included on the soundtrack for the film The Craft, which also featured young female witches. Two years later, when Charmed needed a theme song, the WB must have thought that what was good for one group of young witches was as good for another.

There's a club, if you'd like to go
You could meet someone who really loves you

Quick Thought

Online dating services are quickly replacing "clubs" and "singles-bars" as venues for meeting people.

Deep Thought

Online dating services are quickly replacing older forums for meeting people. Even single baby-boomers, a demographic initially suspicious of these services, are turning to these sites to meet people and find partners. Today, there are more than a thousand dating and lifestyle sites generating close to a billion dollars in revenue.

The growth of the industry has generated some concerns and even calls for state regulation. Many states have considered bills requiring that online dating sites conduct background checks of the members in an attempt to identify sex offenders and other criminals.

And you leave on your own
And you go home
And you cry
And you want to die

Quick Thought

Many of Morrissey's lyrics recount the loneliness he experienced growing up.

Deep Thought

Described as the "Pope of Mope" and the "champion of outcasts, losers and misunderstood mopers," Morrissey and his depression-filled lyrics are often mocked, but the feelings he describes were very real parts of his youth.

Morrissey has said that his early childhood was relatively happy. His secondary school years, however, were difficult, and he passed through particularly hard times during his late-teenage years, after his parents divorced. 

"I literally never, ever met people," he once said. "I wouldn't set foot outside of the house for three weeks on a run." As a result, he didn't experience many of the typical rites of passage. "There was no sense of frivolity in my young life at all, ever. There was no such thing as going crazy, or getting drunk, or falling over, or going to a beach. Everything in my life was just hopelessly premeditated." (Source)

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...