The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, Viv Nicholson, Spend, Spend, Spend And The Last Battle.

“Spend, Spend, Spend. Three little words that cost her all her friends. Everything was all downhill from then. Life would never be simple again”.

On this day 30 years ago the Smiths released the single Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. As well as being a superb song its release also threw up a few scandals, stories and a new song from sunny Leith. The single reached number 10 in the charts. The bands highest position until the re-issue of This Charming Man crashed the top ten in 1992. The single is also responsible for a lot of peoples perception of the band as miserable. But as the late John Peel once said “I don’t know why people say The Smiths are miserable they are more music hall than misery.” Indeed.

“Spend, Spend, Spend. Three little words at the beginning of the end. Dyed her hair to match her cars and have the best of good times. Sometimes the good times have to end.”

When the single was released in 1984 the Smiths were becoming one of the biggest bands in the country. They were also becoming a target for certain newspapers. They had accused them of a variety of crimes including glorifying the Moors Murders. This was done because of the song Suffer Little Children which had stirred up the Sun amongst others to say that Morrissey and the boys were sick for glorifying the murders. If you listen to the song you will see straight away that the song is about the victims and its haunting themes are against Hindley and Brady. For some reason Rough Trade decided to put this track as the B-side to Heaven Knows. Why? I don’t really know as it had already appeared on the debut album. They also decided to use a 1960s photo of Viv Nicholson, who unfortunately bore a slight resemblance to Myra Hindley. This made the press put two and two together and come up with ten. They again said the song was sick and to add insult to injury the band had put Hindley on the cover!!! Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh???

“Oh Oh Viv Nicholson. A cautionary tale for everyone. Dyed her hair to match her cars and have the best of good times. Sometimes the good times have to end.”

So who was Viv Nicholson? Morrissey had become fascinated by her. An icon of his 60s childhood. She had famously won the pools and declared she would Spend, Spend, Spend which she did. After a number of husbands, most of whom died tragic deaths, squandering the money on cars and high living she was declared bankrupt. Even the success of her book; “Spend, Spend, Spend” a few years later she still ended up destitute. Morrissey was particularly taken by this. She not only appeared on Heaven Knows but the Meat is Murder tour programme, The German version of “Barbarism Begins at Home” and briefly the re-issue CD of “The Headmaster Ritual”. I say briefly as this sleeve also caused controversy. This time from Viv herself who had become a Jehovah’s witness and objected to the line “spineless bastards” in the song!! The sleeve was withdrawn but as it was a CD re-issue no new sleeve ever appeared. And true to form Viv and Morrissey fell out never to be friends again! Miserable now? Heaven knows I am!!!!

“Spend, Spend, Spend. She doesn’t regret those words leaving her lips. Led her to believe she’d always taste that sweet champagne but they handed her a poisoned chalice.”

So what are the lyrics throughout this article? Not the words to The Smiths song but to a homage to Viv Nicholson by a band from Leith called The Last Battle. They have been a solid part of our Sound of Young Scotland campaign and have just released their second album. And, they are fantastic. We have not seen them yet as they hardly ever venture south of the border but we will. Soon.








“Sometimes the good times have to end.” (Viv Nicholson by The Last Battle from the Springwell EP)

By peter on April 27, 2014

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