"Reel Around the Fountain" as written by Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
It's time the tale were told
Of how you took a child
And you made him old

It's time the tale were told
Of how you took a child
And you made him old
You made him old

Reel around the fountain
Slap me on the patio
I'll take it now
Oh...

Fifteen minutes with you
Well, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people said that you were virtually dead
And they were so wrong

Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, well, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people said that you were easily led
And they were half-right
Oh, they...oh, they were half-right, oh

It's time the tale were told
Of how you took a child
And you made him old
It's time that the tale were told
Of how you took a child
And you made him old
You made him old

Oh, reel around the fountain
Slap me on the patio
I'll take it now
Ah...oh...

Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people see no worth in you
Oh, but I do.
Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people see no worth in you
I do.
Oh, I...oh, I do
Oh...

I dreamt about you last night
And I fell out of bed twice
You can pin and mount me like a butterfly
But "take me to the haven of your bed"
Was something that you never said
Two lumps, please
You're the bee's knees
But so am I

Oh, meet me at the fountain
Shove me on the patio
I'll take it slowly
Oh...

Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people see no worth in you
Oh, but I do.
Fifteen minutes with you
Oh, no, I wouldn't say no
Oh, people see no worth in you
I do.
Oh, I...I do
Oh, I do
Oh, I do
Oh, I do


Lyrics submitted by Idan, edited by Mellow_Harsher, Zirconiferous

"Reel Around the Fountain" as written by Steven Patrick/marr Morrissey

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

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Reel Around the Fountain song meanings
Add your thoughts

70 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +6
    General Comment*AHEM*

    I thought that another Smiths song was in order. I believe it is about time I did this song because it is one of my most favourite songs ever written due to it’s whimsical tune and lyrics crammed full of romantic and homo-erotic imagery. I doubt I will ever be able to do the song justice just by writing about it. Please feel free to "Youtube" the song and find out for yourself.

    The first verse has always been subject to much negetive publicity due to the believe that it portrays child abuse. These accusations were proven false and dismissed as the music industry’s typical ability to stupidly miss read lyrics that are beyond them. The verse, "It’s time the tale were told, Of how you took a child, And you made him old" is actually refering to the concept of a life long relationship between two people, (Our protaganist and his wannabe lover). To go from childhood through to adulthood with someone you love is an idealistic fantasy for Morrissey, myself and I’m sure, many other people. (including yourself?). The "Child" represents the innocence of virginity and how this can be "Made old". This shows one of the themes of the song, which is early sexual feelings/experiences. This stereotypical portrayal of romantic imagery is a consistant theme throughout the song. This shows some of Morrissey’s earliest work and ideas. Due to it being the first song on their debut album. (although not the first song they released).

    Right, brace yourselves! The term "Reel around the fountain" is a term that was originally used by homosexuals. To "Reel around the fountain" is when you run your toungue around the tip of someone’s penis until they ejaculate. This very particular, homo-erotic imagery is very well placed as the songs title, as it puts a whole new angle on the song being about innocence and first sexual encounters. (which it still is). It places the theme of homosexuality right at the core of the songs meaning in a typically Morrisean way. (shocking, brash, yet subtle and elegant.) I am unable to derive any other meaning from the lines "Reel around the fountain" but I am sure I’ve hit the nail on the head.

    "Slap me on the patio" shows that our protaganist may have been rejected by the one he claims to love. The fact that the gesture of rejection (the slap) occured on the patio indicates that our protaganist was never inside/with the person he loved, but just on the boarders/outskirts. To be so close and apparently so far. The point remains that he is just outside of what he truely wants. Therefore this line carries certain sexual inuendos (to never be inside the one he loves). This line could also relate to aggresive love, which is something that seems to tickle Morrissey’s and our protaganists intrest. (read my other blogs for more info on Morrissey’s taste in men:) "I’ll take it now" also carries sexual connotations of being able to "take" whatever the wannabe lover can offer. Along with the previous line, this could mean that our protaganist would be happy with any physical contact with his wannabe lover. Our protaganist is again desparate for his attention and contact.

    "Fifteen minutes with you, Well, I wouldn’t say no" is beautifil imagery concerning our protaganists devout love and obsession for his wannabe lover. The fact that our protaganist would do anything for such a short space of time with the one he loves is another example of Morrissey’s wit of words. But few lines in this song are left without a sexual connotation of some sort. The "15 minutes" represent the average alotted time in which to have sex/make love. This is well recieved as our protaganist answers that he "wouldnt say no" to a passionate, but brief spell of sexual pleasure. "Oh, people said that you were virtually dead, And they were so wrong.". This line suggests that "the people" (representing some sort of obscure, obselete authority) are advising him that he is dead to our protaganist, meaning that he is beyond reach, non compatible, regardless of his feelings. (he could be straight or older). It could also show that our protaganists quarry is an older, more expeirienced man "virtually dead". "Oh, people said that you were easily led, And they were half-right". This line suggests a certain flirtatious tone from our protaganist. Our protaganist suggests that his quarry is easily lead, which may not and probably isnt all together true. This ambiguity comes from the "half right" part of the line. This shows that (in the eyes of our protaganist) that his quarry is slightly easy and yet hard to get.

    "Oh, people see no worth in you, I do." This to me, is a little easier to read than the previous "people’s" views. They see no worth in the protaganist’s wannabe lover, showing that they may not approve of him. (Badboy reference, Morrissey’s, the protaganist’s taste in lads, read my other blogs for more detail). He may be slightly off the rails but is nevertheless lovable in our protaganists eyes. These lines are repeated twice throughout the song unlike the previous two. It is my belief that this is because it sums up the other two "People’s" views and is more important to our protaganist. It is repeated at the end with a stunning and passionate vocal performance by Morrissey. This to me, sums up the song.

    The next verse includes my most favourite, meaningful, passionate and practically orgasmic lyrics I have ever heard and ever will. And that is saying alot. "I dreamt about you last night, and i fell out of bed twice" is a quote from the play/film adaptation of "A taste of honey" by Shealgh Delaney. A story about a working class, masculine girl called Jo, her dreadful mother and a homosexual art student in 1950’s Manchester. A book that caught Morrissey’s eye and is a huge influence on his work (im lucky enough to have read it). It is taken from Act 1 scene 2 when Jo and her black sailor boyfriend are talking about eachother, to eachother:

    Boy: Good night.

    Jo: Dream of me.

    Boy: I dreamt about you last night. Fell out of bed twice.

    Jo: You’re in a bad way.

    Boy: You bet I am. By seeing you!

    Jo: [as she goes] I love you.

    Boy: Why?

    Jo: Because you’re daft.

    This line also implies that the wannabe lover is forever on our protaganists mind. His sleep may be restless due to the dreams of his wannabe lover. To fall out of bed twice suggests quite active and passionate dreams, again, connotations of masturbation/wet dreams or simply erotic dreams perhaps.

    "You can pin and mount me like a butterfly" can be inturpreted in several different ways. To pin and mount a butterfly is when people catch them and put them on display like a trophy. This implies that our protaganist is declaring himself as a prize and delecate trophy to his wannabe lover. Pinning and mounting butterflies is also a childhood hobbie for children back in early Britain. This suggests the theme of innocence still shows through all the sex, love and vulgarity that has been displayed in the song so far. My personel favourite inerpretation is that to be mounted is the obvious act of love and sex. To show that our protaganist would prefer to mounted again expresses the theme of homosexuality in the song. To be mounted like a butterfly suggests that when they would make love, it would be gentle, with care and delecacy. This shows our protaganist as the feminate and delecate homosexual he really is. The fact that he would be the one mounted (in sync with "I’ll take it now") also reinforces this.

    "But take me to the haven of your bed, was something that you never said" This line holds a significant messege in the song and melts my heart with empathy and sympathy when ever I hear it. Our protaganist describes the bed of his wannabe lover as a "haven" suggesting that there is no other place that he’s rather be (or rather spend 15 minutes). This shows again his absolute passionate love and eternal affection for his wannabe lover. The bed signifies everything our protaganist would ever dream of (and has dreamed of), a place of pure sexual and emotional gratification and satisfaction. This line of joyous passion is however followed by "....was something that you never said" portraying that his wannabe lover is indeed "virtually dead" (to him). He has never and will never feel the love and affection that he so dearly longs for in the deepest recesses of his heart. This implies that the quarry of our protaganist is not his way inclined. eg. straight. He must suffer the agonising feeling of loss for something he never and will never have. And so is the life of our protaganist and Morrissey himself.

    "Two lumps please" is used to bring the tone of formal friendship to the song. Suggesting that the wannabe lover of our protaganist only knows the protaganist as a friend, and is unaware of his feelings. However, this line also carries a sexual connotation of "Two lumps" indicating testecles. I may sound like i’m reading into too far but its a simple analysis. Trust me.

    "You’re the bees knees, but so am I". This line could be told from either the protaganist’s or the wannabe lover’s point of view. From the protaganist point of view, the compliment of "the bees knees" could symbolise the generic compliment used alot in the 60’s, because he cannot describe his feelings any other way without givinig his true feelings away and exposing himself. Our protaganist then swallows his words and says "but so am I". This display of arrogance, I believe, shows that he is standing his ground as to not expose himself. (it also portrays Morrissey’s character within the protaganist). From the point of view of the wannabe lover the compliment of "the bees knees" could indeed be a generic and friendly compliment to show that they are friends. (and nothing more). The additional comment of "but so am I" shows that he is out of reach from our protaganist. Basically when translated he states that " yeah you’re a nice guy, but im out of your league/we are not compatible". (showing that he is far more expeireanced or straight) This ends their conversation with a sickening finality that there would never be anything between them.

    The change from "Reel around the fountain" to "Meet me at the fountain" shows that after the conversation, he is more aware of the finality of his situation. The sexual connotation is removed and replaced with a formal gesture of meeting, regardless of how much pain our protaganist is in now knowing this. The change from "slap" to "shove" on the patio shows that the wannabe lover has made his intentions clear and is being more forceful (even violent perhaps?) The fact that he will "Take it slowly" shows that it will be a long time before the pain for the loss of the one he never had will heal. Our protaganist is finally aware where he stands in the situatuon and is both heartbroken but put out of his misery. The song ends with our protaganist saying that although the "Others" may see no worth in him, he will and always will eternally.

    I will not lie or exaggerate (I curse the fact that this statement is incredibly "Emo"), but this song means so much to me as I have grown up. This song has had me break down in hestarical tears both when alone and in public. And I am not ashamed of that. Although I knew all the words from the age of 12, I learnt their meaning along the way. I will remain eternally grateful for the lyrics that have help me through the struggles of the "teen scene" which is cruel to everyone from time to time. This song and it’s lyrics will live with me till the day I die. It remains one of the best songs ever written. A song which depicts the first experiences of love, sex, instinct and passion of anyone who has ever felt sexually confused and lost. A remarkably perfect song to the best album in the world :)




    Loves_young_dreamon November 25, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI think it's about losing your innocence (and liking it) but having the other person just see you as a sex object...while you see them as something more special. Even though you know they only want to sleep with you...you love them so much that you just cannot say no to another lust-filled 15mins.

    Personally, I think that child molestation stuff is ridiculous nonsense...
    enolfon March 10, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI feel Moz is using erotic sensual lyrics to describe his lust that he is too afraid to act out. Its all in his head, descriptive and clear yet he is too afraid to really go through withit. A self imposed internal repression of eroticism. The question of whether it is heterpsexual or homosexual is irrelevant, anyone has feelings of lust and desire.
    rossandrewcaseyon January 15, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI think that anybody who thinks this is about child abuse is an idiot.

    This song imo is about someone who has very little personality but the 'childlike' (read lust-full) morrissey still sees value in them (in the form of sexual value) "oh people see / no worth in you / oh but I do"

    "Two lumps please" is a great play on words, referring to sickly sweet sugar (sex) and two lumps (boobs), two lumps please indeed!

    It is indeed a great song!
    treachon June 18, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm with you Kez. This is without question my favorite Smiths song. It floats effortlessly along between happy and sad, humor and desperation. Just beautiful. To me, this song is all about growing up and having your first relationship and the fierce emotions that brings. It's about that magical time right as you're about to lose your innocence IMO. Why this song never gets the attention it deserves is beyond me.
    BobCon June 21, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song has special meaning to me. Back in the 80s when I was in college, I met a girl. I always thought she was all that but didn't have the balls to talk to her. Then, we met but still, I was totally introverted. She asked me to help her in math and I went to her dorm room. We were doing math and she threw on this tune and damn if I couldn't focus on my main purpose of being there but the lyrics hit me in the face like slap from ol' mom. anyway, we hooked up and that song led me down the path of being a Smiths fan.
    yarbles67on November 30, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti love this song...i'd say it was about courting "reel around the fountain....slap me on the patio.." and maybe growing old with somebody "of how you took a child and you made him old...' i love the "fifteen minutes with you...i wouldn't say no..people see no worth in you, but i do...." i think thats sweet...
    Kezon June 18, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think it's about fierce, but unrequited, lust and desire, not really love.
    Chloe le Fayon June 19, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe song is about a young boy losing his virginity to an adult man. I don't know how it could be any more clear that he's talking about a homosexual relationship taking place between a man and a boy coming to terms with his sexuality. "reel around the fountain," "slap me on the patio, I'll take it now" or "slowly" he says too..."you can pin and mount me like a butterfly!!!" C'mon people... "two lumps please," refers to both having male genitals, you know... each with a lump in the crotch. "you're the bees knees, but so am I"... It's a justification, like since we're both the bees knees we should partake in eachother erotically. Most of you posting that it's referring to a heterosexual relationship are either too dense to see what it is really about or you're in denial.
    tunainthebrine12on January 09, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"I dreamt about you last night
    and I fell out of bed twice" --- So Hott!

    "You can pin and mount me like a butterfly...
    but "take me to the haven of your bed"
    was something that you never said
    Two lumps, please
    you're the bee's knees...
    but so am I"--- Always loved those lyrics.
    Erika144on March 24, 2013   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain