The Smiths

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

Composed by Johnny Marr / Morrissey

Song Review by

"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is undeniably one of the most touching and romantic songs in the Smiths' discography. It's a standout among standouts from the Smiths' masterpiece third album, The Queen Is Dead. Every instrument, indeed every sound in the song's four minutes, is positioned for maximum emotional impact. Johnny Marr's weepy string arrangements dominate most open spaces that Morrissey's pensive vocals don't fill. Morrissey's lyrics are painfully morbid. He sings the tale of two lovers out on the town. His protagonist doesn't want to go home, because they're not welcome there anymore. The song's most startling refrain sees the vocalist singing that if a double-decker bus or a ten-ton truck kills the pair it would be a pleasure and a privilege. Morose, forgotten, or simply depressed characters pepper most of Morrissey's songs, but "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" ups the sad-and-doomed quotient by leaps and bounds. Critics of the band would have a field day with this song. Die-hard fans would hold it near to their hearts. That Morrissey and company decided not to end The Queen Is Dead with this devastating, powerful song, instead throwing the wacky, wicked curveball of "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others," is a testament to the way the Smiths challenged themselves and their audience.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Queen Is Dead 1986 Rhino
No Image 1986 Money Maker 3:40
The World Won't Listen 1987 Rhino / Warner Bros.
No Image 1992 WEA
The Best of the Smiths, Vol. 2 1992 Sire 4:02
Singles 1995 WP
The Very Best of the Smiths 2001 Warner Music / WEA International 4:05
John Peel: Right Time Wrong Speed 2006
Various Artists
WMTV 4:03
The Sound of the Smiths 2008 Rhino / Warner Music 4:05
(500) Days of Summer 2009
Original Soundtrack
Sire / Warner Bros. 4:05
Complete 2011 Rhino / Warner Bros. / Warner Music 4:04
The Other Side of the 80's [Rhino] 2016
Various Artists
Rhino
Unloveable Chelsea
blue highlight denotes editor's pick