"Istanbul" as written by Steven Morrissey and Martin James Boorer....
When he first cried his mother died
I had tried to be his guide
When he was born I was too young
The father searches for the son
In Istanbul, give him back to me
Oh Istanbul, give me back my brown-eyed son

Moonlight jumping through the trees
Sunken eyes avoiding me,
From dawn to dusk, the hunt is on,
The father searches for the son
In Istanbul, give him back to me
In Istanbul give me back my brown-eyed son

On secret streets in disbelief
Little shadow shows the lead
Prostitutes, stylish and glum
In amongst them you are one

Oh, what have I done?!

Rolling breathless off the tongue
The vicious street gang slang
I lean into a box of pine
Identify the kid as mine

Lyrics submitted by discriminant

"Istanbul" as written by Martin James Boorer Steven Morrissey

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., DOMINO PUBLISHING COMPANY

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Istanbul song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentTo me it's about a young father whose wife/partner dies during childbirth and he feels he can't raise the son on his own, because he's too young, so gives him up for adoption but he feels regret and tries to find him in later years. Something along those lines anyway.
    LWon August 23, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song ComparisonThe sentiments are similar to PJ Harvey's song Down by the Water (songmeanings.com/songs/view/40500/):

    I lost my heart
    Under the bridge
    To that little girl
    So much to me
    And now I moan
    And now I holler
    She'll never know
    Just what I found
    That blue eyed girl
    She said "no more"
    That blue eyed girl
    Became blue eyed whore
    Down by the water
    I took her hand
    Just like my daughter
    I'll see her again

    Oh help me Jesus
    Come through this storm
    I had to lose her
    To do her harm
    I heard her holler
    I heard her moan
    My lovely daughter
    I took her home

    Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water.
    Come back here, man, gimme my daughter.
    Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water.
    Come back here, man, gimme my daughter.
    ashtraygirl123on September 16, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSurprised no one understands this is about bacha bazi boys. They are forced into prostitution, sold to elites, dressed liked girls and sodomized...so sad, and another reminder of horrorific aspects of Islamic culture.
    Xrayvisionon December 01, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI strongly believe it's a song about male prostitution in Turkey. It's such a huge underground business in Turkey. If you open any webpages with live webcams on the internet you'll an immense number of Turkish men exposing themselves for tokens ($$$). As a gay man, Morrissey certainly know the gay scene of Istanbul and the type of masculine men one can find in that environment came to his attention as long as he has visited the country numerous times. This is a real story witnessed by the singer, who surely knows those cruising parks of Istanbul.
    topkapion May 29, 2018   Link
  • -1
    General CommentYeah, I like your interpretation about the mother dying at birth. He obviously had the kid when he was too young, and wasn't ready for that type of commitment. He tried to raise him right but he himself hasn't grown up yet.
    He's rolling through the streets looking for his son, who is presumably now involved in a gang. At the end of the song, he looks down into a coffin, or "pine box", to identify the body of his dead son.
    Fucking sad ending, I must say.
    kid1on February 15, 2015   Link

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