Girlfriend in a Coma was launched as a single in The Smiths 4th and final studio album titled Strangeways, Here We Come. Remarkably, the controversial B-side contributed to Johnny Marr’s choice to leave the band. It was around a month before the song was released. The B-side also included the band’s last new track, “I Keep Mine Hidden.”
Marr did not favor Morrissey’s obsession with covering songs by 60s pop stars such as Twinkle and Cilla. When they covered “Work is a Four Letter Work” on the 12″, it became the last nail in the coffin.
The Smiths Disbanded
The band split in September 1987. Numerous reasons have been mentioned by band members, with musical differences between Morrissey and the rest of the band (specifically Johnny Marr) being the overriding aspect.
Of course, the tune’s title is shocking by itself. It’s not a song that makes itself possible to be used on hospital radio, without a doubt. There is the palpable sarcasm in the lines: “There were times when I could have strangled her,” followed by, “but you know I would hate anything to happen to her.” Integrated with the secret of Morrissey’s sexuality, the lyrics have perplexed many – why is she in a coma and whose sweetheart is it? Rolling Stone attempted to finish the confusion by disclosing that “Girlfriend in a Coma” talks about AIDS. Hmm, well, now I’m much more baffled!
Girlfriend in a Coma was not Well-received
Girlfriend in a Coma went into the UK chart at No. 13 on 16th August 1987, making it their 5th successive top 20 hits. It fell back to the 16th spot the following week and spent five more weeks in the Top 100. The event was a little frustrating. Especially because their previous release titled “Sheila Take A Bow” had reached the 10th place in the charts. Morrissey also expressed disappointment with the lack of commercial success of the song.
The video includes clips from the 1965 British drama film The Natural leather Boys, with Morrissey’s face being the primary focus. The movie is about a bored family man who hangs out with a good biker friend, who he later finds is gay.
The single sleeve includes the screenwriter Shelagh Delaney that created A Taste of Honey.
According to Marr and Morrissey, Girlfriend in a coma is inspired by the reggae song “Youthful, Gifted and Black,” which both were fans of.
Douglas Copeland, a Canadian writer, launched a novel titled Girlfriend in a Coma in the year 1998. This book featured many song lyrics and lines from other The Smiths albums.