Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I've held
It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
I want to leave, you will not miss me
I want to go down in musical history

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I'm a sickening wreck
I've got the twenty first century breathing down my neck
I must move fast, you understand me
I want to go down in celluloid history, Mr. Shankly

Fame, fame, fatal fame
It can play hideous tricks on the brain
But still I'd rather be famous
Than righteous or holy
Any day, any day, any day

But sometimes I feel more fulfilled
Making Christmas cards with the mentally ill
I want to live and I want to love
I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I've held
It pays my way and it corrodes my soul
Oh, I didn't realise that you wrote poetry
I didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry, Mr. Shankly

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask
You are a flatulent pain in the ass
I do not mean to be so rude
Still, I must speak frankly, Mr. Shankly

Oh, give us your money

Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery

Frankly, Mr. Shankly Lyrics as written by Johnny Marr Steven Morrissey

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

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Frankly, Mr. Shankly song meanings
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  • +17
    General Comment

    You’re all wrong.

    Frankly Mr Shankly is about the head of Rough Trade Records, Geoff Travis. The label which The Smiths were signed to at the time.

    Morrisey was upset about the deal the band were on, and the basic fact that they weren’t making any money. So he wrote a song making fun of Geoff Travis, and disguised it as a letter to the fictional “Mr Shankly”.

    However, he gave it away (probably purposefully) with the line.

    “I didn’t realise you wrote poetry. I didn’t realize you wrote such bloody awful poetry”.

    Geoff Travis apparently used to write poetry, and for many years previous to the song sent it to Morrissey (a fellow poet), for his opinion.

    Morrisey ends the song with

    “Now give us money”

    Which was basically the reason he was so upset with him. He felt the band were being cheated financially

    On the 25th anniversary of the album, Geoff Travis gave an interview to the NME, where he said he had no idea it was about him, until he heard the line about “poetry”, where he burst into laughter (they were actually friends, and Morrissey intended it as light hearted)

    ceej1979on July 11, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    Most people don't get the line:

    "i want to catch something that i might be ashamed of"

    because it's about STDs and they think "well, who would want to catch an STD" but actually it's about being so deperate for a partner of any kind that they couldn't care less where they've been before.

    1imaginarygirlon December 20, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    "I want to live and I want to love I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of"

    Jesus, I laughed out loud when I heard that line. I thought it was so brilliant. This is probably the best song off Queen, unless it's the There is a Light, or the title track.

    mopo976on June 25, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    This is about a record executive for the Smith's record label. Morrissey had no respect for the guy. One day the exec showed Morrissey some poetry he had written, which Morrissey obviously didn't like ("I didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry ")

    cactusdaveon July 01, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Does this song remind anyone of Tom in "The Glass Menagerie"?

    MrDevilBunnyon May 30, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Great song - with one of my favourite basslines. Fun to listen to and to play. Fairly obvious what it`s about: wanting to be famous and not wanting to work for a boss you hate in a job you hate but needing the money.

    TheAlmightyMagzon July 01, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    this song is about what we all would like to say sometimes to some aspects of our lives honestly. i love it and the lyrics and the music go so well together... i love how he goes "shhhhankly" in a particularly exaggerated way after he says "didn't realise you wrote such bloody awful poetry"

    blackalisson March 03, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Cocksure fantasy resignation, and linked to songs like 'Heaven Knows' in the anti-work ethic. The 'bloody awful poetry' was linked to a record executive, Morrissey's boss-of-sorts, showing him some poetry he'd written. He saw himself as his intellectual equivalent, but Morrissey obviously didn't see it that way.

    suspieriaon May 05, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    this is like a resignation letter to morrissey's boss, mr shankley. He obviosly hates this shankley dude. As you probably know the smiths were like 1970's-1980's hense the, "i have got the 21st century breathing down my neck" bit.

    still, the bit where he says "Frankly, Mr Shankly, since you ask you are a flatulent pain the arse" will live foreva in my mind, i use it all the time.

    only, you know NOT to my boss, as i am only a 12 yr old gal, so....................


    wee yinon June 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    "But sometimes I'd feel more fulfilled making Christmas cards with the mentally ill I want to live and I want to love I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of" digggg it

    krollisasexyhoeon February 09, 2009   Link

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