Morrissey's first solo single following the dissolution of the Smiths, "Suedehead" took its cue from a mid-70s pulp teen gang novel by British author Richard Allen. That said, the lyric itself seems to have little to do with the novel, beyond the time-and-place significance of its title - Morrissey himself later described "Suedehead" as being bound up in life as he lived it around 1972, aged 12 and 13, although he has never acknowledged who it is actually about - the lyric is a tacit confession of guilt, apologizing to a wronged friend while asking why they persist in trying to make contact. "Why do you come here, when you know it makes things hard for me?"
Its lyric notwithstanding, "Suedehead" was based upon a quirkily electric melody line, one of several instrumental sketches demoed by producer Stephen Street around the time of the Smiths' Strangeways, Here We Come album, for consideration as possible b-sides. A few weeks later, he received a call from Morrissey, inviting him to help out on what became the singer's Viva Hate solo debut. Released ahead of the LP itself, "Suedehead" swiftly emerged as Morrissey's first ever Top 5 British hit.