"The Headmaster Ritual" as written by Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
Belligerent ghouls
Run Manchester schools

Spineless swines
Cemented minds

Sir leads the troops
Jealous of youth
Same old suit since nineteen sixty two

He does the military two-step down
The nape of my neck

I want to go home
I don't want to stay
Give up education
As a bad mistake

Mid-week on the playing fields
Sir thwacks you on the knees

Knees you in the groin
Elbow in the face
Bruises bigger than dinner plates

I want to go home
I don't want to stay

Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da
Da-da-da

Belligerent ghouls
Run Manchester schools

Spineless bastards all

Sir leads the troops
Jealous of youth
Same old jokes since nineteen- oh- two

He does the military two-step down
The nape of my neck

I want to go home
I don't want to stay
Give up life
As a bad mistake

Please excuse me from gym
I've got this terrible cold coming on
He grabs and devours
He kicks me in the showers
Kicks me in the showers
And he grabs and devours

I want to go home
I don't want to stay


Lyrics submitted by Idan

"The Headmaster Ritual" as written by Johnny Marr Steven Morrissey

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

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The Headmaster Ritual song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +16
    General CommentAnother great Smiths song. When Morrissey sings:

    "I wanna go home
    I don't wanna stay "

    I am forever reminded of that one poor kid who didn't quite "fit in" at school and was picked on for it. There's one [or more] at every school, and sometimes it's us. So next time, rather than picking on him or her, or sitting by idly watching it happen, extend a hand of friendship.
    DPR4444on June 15, 2007   Link
  • +6
    General CommentIsn't amazing how this song just paints the picture for you. I can almost see Morrissey in school with the other boys, in their uniforms being humiliated by the mean old headmaster.
    mourninggloryon July 03, 2004   Link
  • +6
    General Commenti think it's more about general abuse rather than caning. i was in school in england in the seventies and i've seen teachers do things to pupils that would put them in jail nowadays...believe me, the cane was the least of your worries!
    Morrissey's got his angry head on here and there's no trace of humour when he refers to the belligerant ghouls as spineless bastards.
    Boss Manon July 16, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentWicked yodelling at the end from the Mozmeister. Plus awesome jangling from Johnny Marr and a classic Rourkey bassline.
    alfiebabyon April 30, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI will say I'm American and was born in 1990 so I never had to endure any kind of physical abuse from teachers, but I share the same beliefs as Morrissey on the subject. He is definitely one of my favorite lyricists and songwritters.
    genxdude91on September 05, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General Commentteachers beating on the students. Thi is the first sogn on Meat Is Murder, almost every song on that album mentions violence of some kind. This song always reminds me of the Morrissey song "The Teachers are Afraid of The Pupils"
    KILBYon March 05, 2003   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"...who grabs and devours ..."

    -By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
    marquiceriseon December 28, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIn elementary school (aka "grade school") in the States in the early '70s, corporal punishment was common. Even in "liberal" states like California, particularly if you lived in a small town. Today it's almost unheard of, although it still happens (with impunity) in rural areas in a few states. It's never been made illegal, not at the federal level.

    The teachers generally passed off the dirty work to a principal or (if they existed at that level) vice-principal. Though some teachers were sufficiently sadistic, they wanted to make sure themselves the child was to "be taken in hand," and relished the task.

    I had a teacher grab me, pull me out to the hallway and shove me against a wall. His stated intent was to get me to stop crying. Not an effective technique. (I was eleven years old; this happened in 1976, in Oregon)

    One particularly bad incident: and an awful teacher, who (I later learned) admitted to my parents he felt threatened as a (rather poor) teacher by my relatively-quick mind. He had the upper hand physically, I hardly need to add.

    I was typically a "teacher's pet" and--in most instances--didn't have to worry about that sort of brutality. Not from a teacher anyway. My peers, now that's another story...
    foreverdroneon September 20, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIs it just me or does somebody else thinks that the lyrics isn't just about teachers but also about bulling?
    The "spineless swines2 and "belligerent ghouls" that "run Manchester schools" are nor only teachers, but also kids that live in impunity.
    It is just my thoughts, when i was in school teachers and kids alike were pretty mean.
    medton April 07, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Commentmy brother attended a birmingham school in the seventies; abuse was rife. he'd come home with tales i can tell you. the one that sticks in my mind is of the 1st form (grade 7) history teacher with a man's size 13 shoe that he called 'the persuader.'
    clareakon January 09, 2011   Link

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