"I Don't Owe You Anything" as written by Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey....
Bought on stolen wine
A nod was the first step
You knew very well
What was coming next

Bought on stolen wine
A nod was the first step
You knew very well
What was coming next

Did I really walk all this way
Just to hear you say :
"Oh, I don't want to go out tonight" ?
"Oh, I don't want to go out tonight"

Oh, but you will
For you must

I don't owe you anything, no
But you owe me something
Repay me now

You should never go to them
Let them come to you
Just like I do
Just like I do

You should not go to them
Let them come to you
Just like I do
Just like I do

Did I really walk all this way
Just to hear you say :
"Oh, I don't want to go out tonight" ?
"Oh, I don't want to go out tonight"

But you will
For you must

I don't owe you anything, no
But you owe me something
Repay me now

Too freely on your lips
Words prematurely sad
Oh, but I know what will make you smile tonight

Life is never kind
Life is never kind
Oh, but I know what will make you smile tonight


Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery

"I Don't Owe You Anything" as written by Steven Patrick/marr Morrissey

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

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I Don't Owe You Anything song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +4
    My InterpretationWell I seem to have taken something rather different out of this song so I'll try and analyze it.

    The song begins with the narrator getting drunk and making a move (probably not the first time) on a girl. After the move is made the girl replies "Oh, I don't want to go out tonight" but the narrator knows she is just letting him down gently as he knows she always goes out ('But you will for you must'). The narrator then gets quite angry presumably from putting the effort in pursuing this girl only to be let down and feels he is owed something (but you owe me) after the time spent pursuing. This is punctuated by the 'you should never go to them, let them come to you' implying this woman is someone who is often pursued but doesn't do the chasing, the narrator ironically states 'just like I do' as if to say he lets woman come to him but realistically they don't come to him and he hates getting hurt having to make the move.

    After the repeated verse we are then presented with the lines 'too freely on your lips' implying she often lets guys down quite freely as she knows she has a lot of options. The narrator then states 'Oh, but I know what will make you smile tonight' implying that she will be going out tonight (even though she said she wouldn't) and finding another guy that isn't him to make 'her smile'.

    Well anyone just my interpretation I can see how the lyrics might be considered to be about an alcoholic girl the narrator is taking advantage of etc. but I just don't see enough allusions in the song to alcohol use other than the narrator 'being bought on stolen wine' at the start leading me to believe this is an unrequited love song about a desirable girl that goes out nightly to find guys but will never accept the narrator.
    Rimbaudesqueon February 03, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSorry, you all need to do a little research. The song is an account of the early relationship between the Moors Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. A read through Emlyn Williams' Beyond Belief will verify as much. (There will be more of these little gems on my forthcoming Smiths' Manchester walks. Watch the 'Net! - Ed.)
    EdGlinert1on March 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI listened to this song a few times today with the contemporary perception of this song, kept snugly in mind - the one that sees the love interest as a man and the scenario being Morrissey asking this man to come out because he owes him a night on the town. As well as the period in which this was written, certain lyrics lead me to believe that this interperatation is wrong on both levels.

    "Bought on stolen wine" - I'm not sure if the stolen is an auxillary adjective or if it adds further meaning, but for this review I will leave it on the wayside. Buying wine is an unusual gesture to ask someone to go out with them, and is almost certainly the opposite, a bid to stay at home. You must remember that this was set in the 80's, therefore the purchase of pre-clubbing alcohol is less likely as binge drinking was less common in those days. It would appear the oft-reclusive Morrissey was looking for another one of his sacred nights in, but with a love interest of his, whether this be a girl or boy.

    The following verse would suggest that indeed, Morrissey was seeking to lure the person from out of their house. The consequent lines to his repeated question-lyrics are as follows: "Oh, but you will
    For you must" - This is sung in some despair; a tone of dread feels apparent when listening to the aspiration of each vowel. The execution of these lines suggests that Morrissey did in fact, walk a considerable distance just to hear his love interest say "I don't want to go out tonight".


    "You should never go to them
    Let them come to you
    Just like I do
    Just like I do" - This verse appears to diffuse the possibility of the singer seeking to go out. Morrissey "comes" to this person over an unenviable trek across grim Manchester, unlike what his love interest would be doing if he/she chose to venture out to a nightclub, going to the so-called "them". These lines fit the "looking-for-a-fellow-recluse" interpretation soundly.

    Finally, the only reason why I doubt this is a male infatuation is again down to the time era. The 80's was largely camp as is known, but as I am aware it was still stigmatic to be openly gay. At the very least, it is unlikely that a gay man would be known by Morrissey for always going out.

    "Too freely on your lips
    Words prematurely sad
    Oh, but I know what will make you smile tonight" - These words are surely ones of refusal for Morrissey's proposal? The "freeness" of these words suggest she is aquainted with turning down offers, and that his offer is no more worthy to her than that of a stranger in a nightclub, despite their ostensive familiarity. Going out would appear to be what will make her smile tonight.
    In short, it is unlikely that a gay man in the 80's would have had such a thriving nightlife that Morrissey's advances would be so sorely ineffectual.
    OzymandiasVeidt1on April 21, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a grower. When your obsessed like me, you end up getting fed up slightly ( never completly!) of the singles, and move ito under-rated album tracks. Worthy of an honourable mention :]
    butterflykiss84on March 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the best Smith's tracks, beautiful guitar, the melody, Morrissey's voice. To me this song is about a relationship with somebody who is depressed.
    mourninggloryon July 03, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits about someone who was rejected...but only temporarily. mmmm the power of alcohol
    needafixon September 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentah, the power of unrequited love...
    Contristoon June 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA relationship that began with a drunken encounter, and the narrator turning it into something it's not. The narrator believes that since he purchased the alcohol his signifigant other owes him. mourningglory is right though, the person is depressed but their escape is alcohol, and the narrator sees only that the alcohol makes the other happy.

    To me, when he says "Did I really walk all this way?" it sounds oddly like a threat.
    Joelhughes2006on June 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song seems really pleasant and lightweight compared to other songs fro the smiths debut, but there's quite a nasty undercurrent to it. i think the singer is driven by his own selfish reasons to visit the person in question rather than by any desire to
    help them.
    Boss Manon July 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I don't owe you a thing."

    -"A Taste Of Honey", by Shelagh Delaney
    marquiceriseon December 28, 2005   Link

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