Morrissey A-Z: "Father Who Must Be Killed, The"

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Typical Morrissey happy ending :)
The Father must be killed, but after said killing - the child offs herself too.
According to my iPod, it's the least played from that album.
Regards,
FWD.
 

Verso

Well-Known Member
I've always felt that Morrissey writes about himself brilliantly but writes about others quite ineptly. Fiction is not his strength. This song is a prime example. I couldn't possibly hate it more and by the time the garishly-employed children's choir comes in, I'm ready to fling the entire LP out the window. I hope to never hear this track again.
 

Radis Noir

Shut yer gobs, you wankers!
Children's choirs on pop songs are never a good idea and this song is no exception. I'm with prevailing view here - I think it's a poor song with no redeeming features at all.
 

MrShoes

"Ooo, there's goobers on his bod." - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
An OK song, one of many on Ringleader that is handicapped by the thin and dynamic-less production: disappointing considering Visconti's great catalogue of productions for Bowie, Bolan etc. Using the children's choir so close after "Youngest Was The Most Loved" also makes this fade into the background that much more. The tune is nothing to write home about: even Moz's vocal melody isn't very creative compared to usual. No, not one of my favourites.

The comment about the use of the choir hit the nail on the head. That novelty wore off half-way through the "Youngest..." - why condemn us to more of the same?

The father who must be killed? Or was it his audience that was killed, caught in the crossfire of this song?
 

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
The comment about the use of the choir hit the nail on the head. That novelty wore off half-way through the "Youngest..." - why condemn us to more of the same?

The father who must be killed? Or was it his audience that was killed, caught in the crossfire of this song?
I don’t think the song’s abysmal, but, yes, the children’s choir is overused: it crops up for the third time on “At Last I Am Born”! Also, throughout this album, Visconti put this weird vocal filter on Moz’s voice that really bugs me: like I said, the production on this album brings down some potentially great songs, and the best tracks are the ones that sound a bit different.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
'Ringleader' veers from amazing to execrable with finesse. Alas, this song is one f the lowpoints. The verses must surely be the most tuneless and direglike that Morrissey has ever managed. The chorus peps things up a bit, but the whole thing still seems deadly dull. Should have been left as a B-Side. Or better still, a spoken word piece, with no music or attempt at singing at all.
 
T

Trans

Guest
This song is pretty standard of the time and I don’t hate that. Agree with those above mostly that it’s fine as an album track but isn’t that exciting. I will say that I’m among those that hate something about the mix or master of ringleader and this song is like right in the middle of the section that suffers the most imo so that brings it down for me
 

gordyboy9

its not me its you.
Couldn’t really work as a b-side, so better that it was released at all. I think it’s good as an album track.
I believe Morrissey puts a lot of importance on what he feels is a balanced album in regards to what makes it on and what doesn’t.
Like the darkness and heavy vibe,
the texture of the guitars and processing is cool. But yes it does go on a bit, a wordy story being forced onto a song with maybe too many changes, maybe the wrong vehicle? don’t know.
The drama of the voice and Alain’s chords are what makes it an enjoyable listening experience for me, and of course the subject matter, jesus.

I can hear Bjork do this one, or even Billie Eilish, strip the song down to just drum machine, big minimal bass and moody synth pads with her voice dry and close in the mix, would probably work better.


Also, people always say they want more cow bell, for me it’s always more children’s choir please.
looks like M was trying to get a new passport photo.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I love the lyrics and the whole story, but it’s hard to get past the unbelievably lazy music. Morrissey is carrying it all, scrambling for some kind of vocal melody. Alain on autopilot.
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
It reminds me a bit of a Kill Uncle song... but if it was, it would be one of the best on that album. It almost seems to continue the theme of Teachers... to my ears: the "father" being Morrissey, etc. It's a good song, I think - though only an average Morrissey song.
 

Ketamine Sun

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It reminds me a bit of a Kill Uncle song... but if it was, it would be one of the best on that album. It almost seems to continue the theme of Teachers... to my ears: the "father" being Morrissey, etc. It's a good song, I think - though only an average Morrissey song.

You think the father in this song is Morrissey? Not saying you’re wrong,
and if that is what you’re saying, then I’m curious how you came to that?
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
I didn't really feel like commenting on this one because I don't like it/don't care enough for it, but I think it's worth mentioning that the lyric works very well as a standalone poem and these lines are great and I've been thinking about the various implications of "There's a law against me now" since Friday

So the step-child ran with the 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."
 

Ketamine Sun

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I didn't really feel like commenting on this one because I don't like it/don't care enough for it, but I think it's worth mentioning that the lyric works very well as a standalone poem and these lines are great and I've been thinking about the various implications of "There's a law against me now" since Friday

And what are your thoughts ? :)
So the step-child ran with the 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."
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
And what are your thoughts ? :)

Well, for instance the idea of having a law against a person rather than actions committed by a person is interesting.

It also makes you wonder what prompted the step-child's statement. What did the father say to her or accuse her of previously?
It's quite vicious of her, this statement. "See, now I've actually done something that's against the law."

We also have "And his might is his legal right/To ground you down" in the first verse, another reference to law.

The build-up is so brief and then there's this sudden explosion of violence.

It's a deliciously gory lyric.
 

Ketamine Sun

<><><><><><><><><><>
Well, for instance the idea of having a law against a person rather than actions committed by a person is interesting.

Yes, didn’t see that. I guess, I just assumed she was identifying her actions and self as one.


She felt she was fighting for her life, so her action of murder was survival, but believing the courts may not see it this way, she took her own life. (?)

It also makes you wonder what prompted the step-child's statement. What did the father say to her or accuse her of previously?
It's quite vicious of her, this statement. "See, now I've actually done something that's against the law."

Yeah, something not stated. Usually in cases of domestic abuse the victim will be made to feel guilty for something they didn’t do, in order for the perpetrator to feel that their abusive behavior is justified.

There’s a lot left out, that seems to point to Morrissey just leaving it up to the listener’s imagination to fill in the gaps.
We also have "And his might is his legal right/To ground you down" in the first verse, another reference to law.


Maybe the brute law of ‘might makes right’.

And by ‘legal right’ it may be Morrissey’s way of saying that the law of ‘might makes right’ is acceptable in our society, or he’s saying that in the eyes of society the father has the right to enforce his own laws in anyway that he sits fit in his own home.

The build-up is so brief and then there's this sudden explosion of violence.

It's a deliciously gory lyric.

It’s a bit too graphic for my tastes.


Some other things....


‘And he looks into her eyes
He says "I'm sorry" and he dies

"Step-child, I release you
With this broken voice I beseech you
"

So who is doing this beseeching and forgiving? After it’s stated that the father is already dead. Maybe the fathers voice in her head?

and...

Momma don't miss me
Momma 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 pressed the knife to her throat
Heart pointing to the sky
"Just as Motherless birds fly high
Then... so shall I




I also wonder if she is ‘motherless or not? Because first she says ‘momma don’t miss me’ than at the end she’s comparing herself to a ‘motherless bird’.


And where she goes to after death she seems to believe that there will be no one there to meet her, so I take it
she doesn’t believe in a heaven? Also after her ‘Bible-belters’ comment, seems to be she has little faith in the church. So Morrissey bringing up atheism again, does he believe or (most likely) doesn’t he?
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

The Courage to Get on People's Tits
Yes, didn’t see that. I guess, I just assumed she was identifying her actions and self as one.

It just made me think of times when people were practically deemed 'unlawful' based on what they were - be it their descent, religion, sexuality or some other aspect of their identity.

Maybe the brute law of ‘might makes right’.

And by ‘legal right’ it may be Morrissey’s way of saying that the law of ‘might makes right’ is acceptable in our society, or he’s saying that in the eyes of society the father has the right to enforce his own laws in anyway that he sits fit in his own home.

Yes, and also he's only her father by law, not her biological father. (Not that it would be right for a biological father to 'enforce his own laws', of course.)

Some other things....


‘And he looks into her eyes
He says "I'm sorry" and he dies

"Step-child, I release you
With this broken voice I beseech you
"

So who is doing this beseeching and forgiving? After it’s stated that the father is already dead. Maybe the fathers voice in her head?

Yes, I think it's relevant that this part isn't printed in quotation marks. I'd say it's either a voice in her head or the narrator speaking.

and...

Momma don't miss me
Momma 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 pressed the knife to her throat
Heart pointing to the sky
"Just as Motherless birds fly high
Then... so shall I




I also wonder if she is ‘motherless or not? Because first she says ‘momma don’t miss me’ than at the end she’s comparing herself to a ‘motherless bird’.

Perhaps she's comparing herself to and identifying with 'Motherless birds' because she feels like her mother has deserted her, because she didn't stand by her against the stepfather.

Rogan in his book points out that it's not clear whether 'her throat' refers to the step-child or the mother and suggests that she might kill the mother as well. I don't necessarily agree with that but if interpreted this way it's possible that the step-child finally experiences freedom after killing both parents.

And where she goes to after death she seems to believe that there will be no one there to meet her, so I take it
she doesn’t believe in a heaven? Also after her ‘Bible-belters’ comment, seems to be she has little faith in the church. So Morrissey bringing up atheism again, does he believe or (most likely) doesn’t he?

The 'Bible-belters' line is so oddly specific but helps to draw a clearer picture of the setting and circumstances. He plays with and relies upon the reader's/listener's expectations and prejudices quite cleverly.

And I would agree, if she really is dead at the end, she doesn't believe in life after death, neither heaven nor hell - because clearly if she did, she would expect to go to the latter, no? After killing the stepfather and herself?
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I didn't really feel like commenting on this one because I don't like it/don't care enough for it, but I think it's worth mentioning that the lyric works very well as a standalone poem and these lines are great and I've been thinking about the various implications of "There's a law against me now" since Friday

So the step-child ran with the 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."
Very interesting. It makes me think of that phrase, "There's no law against it", when you're trying to get away with something / doing something that someone else disapproves of.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Usually in cases of domestic abuse the victim will be made to feel guilty for something they didn’t do, in order for the perpetrator to feel that their abusive behavior is justified.
"No hand to touch me / And no Bible-belters to mess with me" makes me think of sexual abuse. Maybe that's why the stepfather says "I'm sorry" before he dies?
 
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