"The Father Who Must Be Killed" as written by Alain Gordon Whyte and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
Stepchild, you have outlived your time
You represent embarrassment and failure
And the father who must be killed
Is the blight upon your blighted life
And his might is his legal right
To ground you down

Stepchild, with every petty swipe
You just might find you're fighting for your life
And the father who must be killed
Is a step farther but nonetheless
The way he chews his food
Rips right through your senses

Stepchild, there's a knife in a drawer in a room downstairs
And you, you know what you must do
So the stepchild ran with a knife to his sleeping frame
And slams it in his arms, his legs, his face, his neck and says
There's a law against me now
And the father who must be killed
With his dying breath, he grabs her hand
And he looks into her eyes
He says "I'm sorry" and he dies

Stepchild, I release you
With this broken voice I beseech you

Why are lives so short?
The stepchild thought half pointing to the sky
No one to warn me
No hand to touch me
And no Bible-belters to mess with me
Mama don't miss me
Mama don't miss me
This death will complete me
"But where I go there will be no one to meet me
I know there will be no one to meet me"
But still the step-child press the knife to her throat
Half pointing to the sky
Just as mother-less birds fly high
Then so shall I
So shall I
So shall I
So shall I
So shall I


Lyrics submitted by raisedbypuffins, edited by leesong

"The Father Who Must Be Killed" as written by Alain Gordon Whyte Steven Morrissey

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

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The Father Who Must Be Killed song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI think that the actions of the step-child seem unprovoked. And perhaps the step-father does things which are unintentional e.g. chewing his food loudly or improperly. What suggests this is how he reacts by simply apologising. We don't even know that he has something to apologise for.

    Fantastically well thought out lyrics though.
    hollieannon November 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, maybe it's just metaphoric? It's a known issue that stepchildren seldom like their stepfathers, cause they're "breaking up the family".
    So, the stepfather might be totally unaware of what the stepchild thinks about him, and she can't stand him and what he does cause he's a stepfather, and it drives her mad so she kills him, and yes, kills herself. Probably cause of guilt? But this might just be in her head. (Yes, i am an unhappy stepchild.)
    sedativeon July 31, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionHmm, let's leave behind our cultural fixation with child molestation for a moment and look at what the lyrics actually say.

    I think a lot of this song is based around the internal perceptions of the stepchild, rather than reality. The lines "Stepchild, you have outlived your time / You represent embarrassment and failure" is how the stepchild feels about her position within the family, i.e., she feels 'left over' from a previous, failed relationship, and now lives feeling outcast and unwelcome from the new family unit, like they would be better off without her. She is understandably angry about this, although there is no evidence given in the song that she is made to feel like this intentionally by the mother or the stepfather.

    I am fairly certain that this song is not about child abuse. It describes "petty swipes" and the annoying way the stepfather chews his food, which implies quite the opposite - that the stepfather isn't necessarily at fault, but the stepchild PERCEIVES that he is a monster and deserves to die, because, to her, he is iconic of the situation which has led to her feeling like an unwanted child.

    It gets complicated at the "I'm sorry" part, and I think this is intentionally ambiguous, but I think that jumping to the assumption that he must have raped her contradicts the rest of the song entirely. Maybe Morrissey is using poetic licence and the stepfather is actually apologising for making her feel outcast, therefore affirming her feelings? Or maybe the apology is imagined in a moment of closure, hence it is followed by the "stepchild, I release you", which, obviously, he wouldn't actually be saying.

    The stepchild reflects on the shortness of life before killing herself. She is either reflecting on having just taken someone's life and the moral dilemma that has given her ("no one to warn me" possibly refers to this), or she feels pushed to commit suicide for a range of mental reasons which it is obvious she has through the way she handles herself in the song, and is reflecting on the shortness of her own life as she is about to die.

    Yes, there is the "no hand to touch me" line, but it is unclear that this is talking about the stepfather, since she says it while killing herself and so no hand will ever touch her again, and it is in context of talking about general problems with her life/the world such as "bible belters" (plural).
    leesongon December 21, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's pretty obvious what this song is about. The girl (step-child) hates her father (probably for seperating from her mother) and she kills him. She then realises what she has done and what the cosequences are, and kills herself.
    miffyon April 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA jolly little number, I'm rather fond of this one :)
    tonykon April 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPerhaps I'm mistaken, but given the snippet of lyrics:
    "And his might is his legal right
    To ground you down

    Stepchild, with every petty swipe
    You just might find you're fighting for your life"
    implies that the stepchild was abused that thus the murder of her stepfather would be a crime of passion as a result. I guess it's pretty straightforward in that respect. I think this song means more when you reflect on it based upon Morrissey's other songs. He's always been interested in the origin and causes of a killer, it seems, and this is just one more stone on that pile, but this dealing more with the reactionary sort of murder, rather than the pure malice of a serial killer.

    Other than that, I'd have to say that the stepchild has pretty much gone insane by the end of the song and that her decision to kill herself was not a really conscious decision. Rather, it seems more of a deal to end the pain. Sort of "I know there's nothing beyond here, but I can't live this life anymore.". As well as the fact that the girl seems to believe (or at least the narrators conveys that someone thinks it) that she's more of a mark of a failed marriage than a human being and that all people think of when they see her is how awful she is for having been a left over from a mistake her mother had made.

    Just my thoughts. I do really like this song
    ArtemisPantharon March 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favorites.

    "No hand to touch me" is the one line that suggests to me that perhaps the murder was triggered by abuse. After all, the stephfather used his last breath to apologize for something.

    davidovitchon December 10, 2009   Link
  • -1
    General CommentThis song is obviously a bullet sent flying towards rightwing American Catholics. Their hypocrisy is well-known. There are extremely severe regulations in certain towns in the Bible Belt (Bible rules the daily life in very extreme ways sometimes)

    Seems to me to be a song about a girl who has been abused by some overreligious stepfather or a preacher.
    Look at the hatred with which she 'slams' the knife into the several parts of his body.
    And she is obviously driven by madness. Totally broken down there is a voice inside her that forces her to end it all. She feels dirty and used and her soul can never be redeemed (hopelessness induced by the fear of never being forgiven by the fearsome God they worship).
    Duffoon February 24, 2010   Link

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