"How Do You?" as written by and Thomas Edward/o'brien Yorke....
He's bitter and twisted, he knows what he wants
He wants to be loved and he wants to belong
He wants you to listen, he wants us to weep
And he was a stupid baby who turned into a powerful freak

But how do you?
How do you?
How do you?

He lives with his mother, but we show him respect
He's a dangerous bigot, but we always forget
And he's just like his daddy, 'cause he cheats on his friends
And he steals and he bullies, any way that he can

How do you, how do you, how do you?


Lyrics submitted by piesupreme

"How Do You?" as written by Edward John O'brien Colin Charles Greenwood

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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How Do You? song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationI hadn't thought about this song for years when I had a realization that it's quite possibly about the breakup of the Smiths and particularly about Morrissey's behavior during the band's protracted legal disputes.

    The key to understanding this interpretation is to recall the John Lennon song "How Do You Sleep", in which John sings bitterly about the split up of the Beatles. In this case, the title "How Do You" is a reference to the Lennon song, which clues us in that it's a diatribe about a bitter band breakup. The song was released in 1993, before the final settlement of the Smiths case in 1996.

    First, the lyrical analysis.

    - The first two lines are straightforward. The line "he wants to be loved" is possibly a reference to the Smiths song "How Soon is Now" which features the lyric "I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does."

    - "He wants you to listen" is a clue that the song is about a musician. "He wants you to weep" is a reference to Morrissey's renowned ability to make audiences cry, especially at shows.

    - "And he was a stupid baby who turned into a powerful freak." This is relatively straightforward. I'm interpreting "stupid" here as maligning Morrissey's actions rather than his intellect. However, it is interesting to note that the judge in the 1996 court case opined on the intelligence of the Smiths, citing Johnny as probably the most intelligent.

    - "He lives with his mother, but we show him respect". This could be an attempt to bring in some of the mommy imagery from "How Do You Sleep". But Morrissey also lived with his mother for a prolonged period of time. From a Chicago Tribune article from 2013:

    """Looking back, it's a wonder Steven Patrick Morrissey's mother didn't throw him out of the house.

    He had barely finished high school in the crumbling city of Manchester, England, and seemed incapable of holding a job. Instead, he spent years holed up in his bedroom, listening to records and writing tart reviews for music publications. He was dormant and miserable yet certain he was destined for greatness, a combination that would be unbearable for most parents."""

    - "He's a dangerous bigot, but we always forget."
    Wikipedia's Morrissey article has a section on long-standing accusations that Morrissey is a racist. He has made remarks disparaging ethnic populations in the UK, he claimed that Britain is losing its national identity because of immigration, and at at least one concert, he used a photograph of skinheads as a backdrop. NME -- a magazine that once claimed the Smiths were the most important band in the last 50 years, -- wrote that Morrissey has "left himself in a position where accusations that he's toying with far-right/fascist imagery, and even of racism itself, can no longer just be laughed off with a knowing quip"

    - "He's just like his daddy". I'm not sure exactly about this one. Morrissey's father was a presence at early Smiths shows where he apparently got drunk, got into fights, and tried to pick up girls. I haven't read enough about his father to give this line a very compelling interpretation. This could also be a reference to a character in the book Middlemarch, which is the book from which Morrissey took the line "the son and heir of nothing in particular".

    - 'cause he cheats on his friends / And he steals and he bullies any way that he can." When the Smiths broke up, Morrissey and Johnny Marr claimed that the bass and drum players of the Smiths were hired musicians and not properly part of the Smiths. As a result they were only owed 10% of performance income instead of 25% and got little or no percentage on the albums. After the breakup, bassist Andy Rourke went on welfare until he was forced by his financial situation to settle out of court. Meanwhile, Morrissey lives in Clark Gable's former Hollywood mansion. The judge wrote in 1996 that Morrissey was "devious, truculent and unreliable where his own interests were at stake."
    quarrelinaon February 13, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOnce again, off Greenplastic.com:

    An in-yer-face song from the debut album, "How Do You?" was part of the band's live set during 1993. The number seems to be directed at an enemy, though the band hasn't offered a specific explanation. Listen closely to the guitar solo and you'll hear a sample from the Jerky Boys' "Pablo Honey," which would have been taken from bootleg tapes.
    Bowieon March 22, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti really doubt it...
    prayingmantis84on November 18, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpiesupreme got the lyrics wrong its:

    He's bitter and twisted, he knows what he wants.
    He wants to be loved and he wants to belong.
    He wants you to listen, he wants us to weep.
    And he was a stupid baby who turned into a powerful freak.

    But how do you?
    How do you?
    How do you?

    He lives with his mother, but we show him respect.
    He's a dangerous bigot, but we always forget.
    And he's just like his daddy, 'cause he cheats on his friends.
    And he steals and he bullies, any way that he can.

    But how do you?
    How do you?
    How do you?
    Brandy_treloaron March 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentreminds me of The Sex Pistols. Thom Yorke has a Johnny Rotten-esque delivery
    especially with lines like: "And he was a stupid BABY / Turned into a powerful freak" and "He's a dangerous BIGOT / But we always forget"
    LevitateMeon April 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about a guy everyone hates (maybe a gangster?) And I don't really get the How do You bit
    queenbabeon May 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe this song is about a spoiled kid who grew up to be a perfect asshole
    Sinsonteon April 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe could be aiming it at himself. Follows on from Creep. And sometimes it seems he really hates himself. Probably not but an idea.

    The How Do You? bit. I alwasy took it as an abbreviated How Do You Do. But thats stupid.
    I think Thoms saying either 'How can you be such a twat?' kinda like How do you do it?
    or could be as someone else mentioned How do you get just a nice/stupid kid growing up to be such a powerful/bastard of a man
    corduroy_boyon July 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentheres what i think the lyrics are.

    hes bitter and twisted
    he knows what he wants
    he wants to be low down
    he wants to belong
    he wants us to listen
    he wants us to lead
    and he was a stupid baby turned into a power freak

    but how do you x 3

    he lives with his mother
    but we show him respect
    hes a dangerous bigot
    but we always forget
    and hes just like his daddy
    cos he cheats on his friends
    and he steals and he bullies
    anyway that he can

    how do you x 3

    pretty obvious its about some asswipe or other, sums up most chavs of today
    Xeanson March 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsay what you want about pablo honey, but these songs are pretty catchy.
    crunchiemanon December 26, 2011   Link

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