"I Want the One I Can't Have" as written by Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
On the day that your mentality
Decides to try to catch up with your biology

Come round ...
'Cause I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over, all over my face

On the day that your mentality
Catches up with your biology

I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over, all over my face

A double bed
And a stalwart lover for sure
These are the riches of the poor

A double bed
And a stalwart lover for sure
These are the riches of the poor

And I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's all over, all over my face

A tough kid who sometimes swallows nails
Raised on Prisoner's Aid
He killed a policeman when he was
Thirteen
And somehow that really impressed
Me
And it's written all over my face

Oh, these are the riches of the poor
These are the riches of the poor

I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's written all over my face

On the day that your mentality
Catches up with your biology

And if you ever need self-validation
Just meet me in the alley by the
Railway station
It's all over my face
Oh...


Lyrics submitted by Idan, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"I Want the One I Can't Have" as written by Johnny Marr Steven Morrissey

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

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I Want the One I Can't Have song meanings
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40 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentThis is a song that contains some of my favourite lyrics written by Morrissey. "I Want The I Can’t Have" is (in my opinion) a severly unappreciated and under-rated song because of it’s placing between the wild "Rusholme Ruffians" and the also lyrically demanding "What She Said" on the album "Meat Is Murder".

    The "Mentality-Biology" couplet refers to the protaginists mind (mentality) being compared to his body (biology). His mind is suffering these attractions to this "One he can’t have" However, his pyshical state (being male) suggests that he should be attracted to those of the opposite sex. The "Catching up" that his mentality has to make to his biology is proving that he longs for his mind to work in the way his body SHOULD work. This could also be interpreted as our protaginist being denied a man who he believes to be gay, but in the closet. "On the days that your mentality, decides to try to catch up with your biology, come round" Our protaganist believes that homosexuality is a biological state as well as a mental one.

    The lines "I want the one I can’t have" are rather self explanatory, yet I believe, incredibly effective. This implies that the "One" is indeed straight and this causes our protaganist a great amount of grief. "And its driving me mad". The fact that its "written all over my (his) face" portrays that he is finding it hard to hide his affections for the "One". The repition of the "all over" implies that its intensity is gaining in time.

    The "Double bed" represents sex and the ability to display his affection. If something/someone is "Stalwart" then he/she/it is Loyal, dependable and sturdy. The reference of a "Stalwart lover" therefore is suggesting a near-perfect companion in which to lay with in the "double bed". These terms are described as "the riches of the poor" which implies that it is something that money cannot buy.

    The verse which talks of "A tough kid" is a description of the "One" through the eyes of our protaganist. This is a verse in which Morrissey’s influences and taste in men becomes evident. The description of a "Tough kid who sometimes swallowed nails" is a reference to director Howard Sachler’s description of James Dean as a "tough kid who sometimes sleeps on nails". The change of words from "sleeps" to "swallows" seems to be a reference to oral sex. Describing the "One" as a "tough kid" suggests that he is a loveable ruffian, (much to both Morrissy’s and our protaganist’s taste). "Raised on prisoner’s aids" is yet another "Tough kid" trait to which the "One" is custom to. The fact that the "One" supposedly "Killed a policeman when he was 13" suggests that he may be dangerous, which is immiedatly followed up by "and somehow that really impressed me". This shows that our protaganist is sexually aroused by thuggish and brutish acts in "somehow (somekind)" of way. Therefore the love he holds for the "One" appears to be an entirely primal and instinctual love/lust.

    "And if you ever need self validation, then meet me in the alley by the railway station". This final statement seems to be a plea to the "One" urging him to come out of the closet and find himself. This can be interpreted in different ways. This plea could be a sound piece of advise that our protaganist is giving to the "One" in order for them to comence their gay relestionship. Or it could be our protaganist fruitlessly clinging onto the hopes of his clearly straight wannabe lover being his way inclined. The use of an "alley by the railway station" represents 2 things. Firstly, it represents the taste of both our protaganist and the "One" because of our protaganists love of dirty, badboy ruffians and probably the "One’s" favourite haunt of the streets, (his backyard/scene). It can also represent the dirty and corrupt road that is homosexuality because it goes against society’s perception of "natural" (Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve).

    Loves_young_dreamon December 03, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI think the double entendre you're looking for is 'all over his face.'
    Boss Manon July 17, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI just realized...."A tough kid who sometimes swallows nails "....a double entendre, perhaps?
    bacontotson January 31, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"A double-bed and a stalwart lover, for sure these are the riches of the poor" This is one of my favourite Morrisey lyrics and i think it means that for people who dont have much they feel privileged to have someone in their life they love and treasure, with the double bein a symbol of where one makes love.
    LyricalLadon January 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMore input: I think the guy in the song (apparently one of the tough-boyish sorts that Morrissey seems to have a weakness for) is a closeted homosexual and in denial. The narrator insists that when he is finally ready to admit it ("the day that your mentality catches up with your biology"), that, well...the line"if you ever need self-validation, just meet me in the alley by the railway station" kinda says it all.
    Chloe le Fayon June 19, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Health, Health, the blessing of the Rich, the Riches of the Poor"

    -From Edith Sitwell's "The English Eccentrics"




    "A tough kid who sometimes sleeps on nails."

    Director Howard Sachler's description of James Dean.




    "We all want the things we can't have."

    Samantha Eggar in The Collector.
    marquiceriseon December 28, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Oh FUCK the homosexuality." The irony.
    MisterStingon February 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's obviously the biology of homosexuality, esp. bc it talks abt a man (became a policeman when he was thirteen, and somehow that really impressed me"; having said that, as a hetero female I totally identified with htis song regardless-- who couldn't relate to it?
    jenwill2on March 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment i don't necessarilly it's operating at a homosexual level,I think its saying when you grow up mentally(act the age your biology is) and then maybe you'll see that I was the one.
    exloverofedloveron August 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOr perhaps it's meant both ways.
    Chloe le Fayon October 05, 2002   Link

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