"Still Ill" as written by Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving
England is mine, it owes me a living
But ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye
Oh, ask me why, and I'll spit in your eye
But we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore
No, we cannot cling to those dreams

Does the body rule the mind
Or does the mind rule the body?
I dunno

Under the iron bridge we kissed
And although I ended up with sore lips
It just wasn't like the old days anymore
No, it wasn't like those days, am I still ill?
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Am I still ill?
Oh-oh-oh-oh

Does the body rule the mind
Or does the mind rule the body?
I dunno

Ask me why, and I'll die
Oh, ask me why, and I'll die
And if you must, go to work, tomorrow
Well, if I were you I wouldn't bother
For there are brighter sides to life
And I should know, because I've seen them, but not very often

Under the iron bridge we kissed
And although I ended up with sore lips
It just wasn't like the old days anymore
No, it wasn't like those days, am I still ill?
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Am I still ill?
Oh-oh-oh-oh


Lyrics submitted by Idan

"Still Ill" as written by Johnny Marr Steven Morrissey

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Still Ill song meanings
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  • +10
    General Comment"Society owes me a living"
    Myra Hindley, 1977
    "We walked for miles, round the backs, right over the iron bridge and down underneath it on the towpath. We were kissing away and touching and getting really sore lips"

    -From Viv Nicholson's book, "Spend Spend Spend".
    marquiceriseon December 28, 2005   Link
  • +9
    General CommentI always thought this is about homosexuality. It was and is still seen by a lot of people as an illness, or simply something that can be cured or go away. Sometimes poeple ask gay guys "are you still gay? why don't you find a girl?" or "don't be silly, you're grown-up now, you have to get a girl", indicating taht gayness is just a phase or ilness. So Morrissey asks "Am I still ill?". The whole world changed, the society changed, the economics (note the Thatcher and economy links), but he is still gay, so "still ill", hasn't changed. Under teh bridge and sore lips, could be that gays often met under bridges and railway stations. "Does the mind rule the body..." - he asks if the mind can rule the body, that he can simply say "i like girls" and his body will respond, but the body does actually rule the mind, he likes boys. He has butterflies in his stomach etc. So the body, sexual needs, really do rule over the heart and mind, therefore the logic and common sense. So after all this time, he is still ill, still gay.
    blindluckon January 25, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General Commentits actually about depression and the contribution of a confusing relationship to this ongoing depression..
    Michael746on October 04, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis song is about disenfranchisement. It begins with a fairly literal satirical criticism of (then) modern-day English society ("i decree...it owes me a living"): Unemployment; gentrification; post-war rebuilding; and a foolish sense of economic entitlement related to a by-gone era of English supremacy on the world stage.

    He then questions what it all means. I agree with many that "does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body" is an allusion to how English society got this way: is soul-less 1980s England the product of the people, or is it the product of the rulers (I dunno)? But there is an intended second meaning to this as well: is it right for his mind to force his body to engage with another physically ("sore lips") or should he abstain in deference to what his body is telling him to do.

    The iron bridge is a nostalgic reference - a rusted-out symbol of a better, perhaps more meaningful time. They awkwardly kiss there in a desperate attempt to recreate what once was (as if any other place would render the kiss utterly pointless).

    Just as he cannot find a place in modern-day England, he cannot find love. Disenfranchised across all dimensions of life from the political to the personal.
    pastrobon July 13, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI will attempt to refrain from an excessively elaborate comment given that all interpretations thus far are both insightful and well-grounded, but I was just wondering whether anyone had considered allusion to the struggle of mental illness? It goes without saying that I'm not presuming that Morrissey suffered from a psychological condition but I cannot help but relate the song, most notably the lyrics: 'Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body' to my own battles with chronic Anorexia Nervosa. Of course this is very much a personal and arguably more of a superficial interpretation than many of the above analyses concerning social and economic concepts; but my adoration of the Smiths is not only founded on their unique sound but in the beauty of Morrissey's lyricism: I find that each song can resonate with an aspect of my life. Perhaps the obliqueness and ambiguity of the words was intended to render songs such as Still Ill with something that we can each relate to some degree, even in this day and age - transforming minorities into majorities by nourishing us with the sense that none of us are alone after all.
    naomigraceon June 07, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationMy interpretation of this song, is one that describes a struggle with mental illness. The lines 'Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body' and 'It just wasn't like the old days anymore' both remind me of my own struggles, of when I found it difficult to rule my own mind and when I use to over-think everything. I use to force myself to relive happy moments in my life hoping they would make me feel happy again, but they just weren't like the old days anymore. I also use to look in the mirror and ask myself if I was 'still ill'.

    Think positive, peace out.
    Luukkeon November 15, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving
    England is mine and it owes me a living
    ask me why and I'll spit in your eye"
    Don't you feel this is Morrisey in agreement with that argument against big government? Criticising the pre Thatcher years.
    "But we cannot cling
    to the old dreams anymore"
    Referring to the Post War consensus style ideals og socialism of the pre Thatcher postwar years.
    "Does the body rule the mind
    or does the mind rule the body?
    I dunno..."
    I thought that might have something to do with him toying with the arguments about whether the move to Thatcher was a good one, whether our selfish instincts, drive us or not.
    "Under the iron bridge we kissed
    and although I ended up with sore lips
    it just wasn't like
    the old days anymore
    no it wasn't like those day"
    I thought the bridge could be the legacy of industrialisation or similar, the lover representing those old ideals? Maybe I'm pushing it somewhat. And it certainly isn't the only interpretation. If this interpretation is true, I find myself disagreeing with him as well :p
    loljesuson August 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love his voice.
    Luckyblckstaron July 10, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhen you look a the lyrics from a political perspective, i think the sentence:
    "Does the body rule the mind
    or does the mind rule the body?"
    could be a criticism of the political system, with the body being the people and the mind the government, making this a metaphor questioning democracy. Do the people control the state (as they are supposed to in a democracy) or does the state control the people.
    Jelteteon October 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWell I know everyone has their own interpretation on songs but I thought I'd present you mine. I'll try to make it short and interesting to read!
    -"Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body, I dunno"
    I really think of this particular part as a struggle inside the mind, linked with homosexuality, or some other sexual preference. Can I just make it up in my mind that I am straight, not gay?(Does the mind rule the body) Or is it just something purely physical, I can't help it but to feel pleasure from these things through my body?(Does the body rule the mind)
    Then, let's move on..
    -"Under the Iron Bridge we kissed, and although I ended up with sore lips, it just wasn't like the old days anymore"
    This, to me, sounds like a scenario of the same person, unsure about their sexuality, in fact kissing under the Iron Bridge with somebody who isn't really the gender they prefer.. The person kisses their lips sore, but still it doesn't give them the same pleasure as it did when they kissed another person sometime ago, who was the sex that they "enjoyed" more.
    Then it continues:
    -"No it wasn't like those days am I Still Ill?"
    Seems like a cry from the storyteller. Are they Still Ill (I think the illness is supposed to describe homosexuality, since it was classified as illness some decades ago)? Are they still gay?

    Hope this wasn't a complete mess, and you understood what I was trying to get through. Yes, I know, yet another interpretation including homosexuality but since you kind of know that Morrissey has this undefinable sexual preference, which I actually relate to, in my case, you sort of start to look at The Smiths songs and his own songs through a rainbow-colored lens, if you know what I mean.
    Lilyflosson June 11, 2013   Link

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