"Handsome Devil"


These words are transcribed without permission the way they appear in the "Hatful Of Hollow" album. Additions to the printed lyrics are in darker text while omissions are striken out.

All the streets are crammed with things
eager to be held
I know what hands are for 1
and I'd like to help myself
you ask me the time
but I sense something more
and I would like to give you
what I think you're asking for
you handsome devil
you handsome devil

Let me get my hands
on your mammary glands
and let me get your head
on in the conjugal bed
I say, I say, I say

I crack the whip
and you skip
but you deserve it
you deserve it, deserve it, deserve it

A boy in the bush
is worth two in the hand
I think I can help you get through your exams
Oh you handsome devil


And when we're in your scholarly room
who will swallow whom?
when we're in your scholarly room
who will swallow whom?
you handsome devil


There's more to life than books, who know 3
but not much more.
There's more to life than books, who know
but not much more
not much more
oh you handsome devil
oh you handsome devil


1 In early 1985, Morrissey changed this line to "I know what teeth are for, and I'd like to help myself" on a few occasions.

2 Actually Morrissey only repeats the first part of the refrain this time. He ends it by singing the slightly different "I said, I say, I say".

3 In live performances of this song, Morrissey has been known to occasionally adapt this line to the visited town: "There's more to life than Leeds, who know but not much more" or "There's more to life than Poole, who know but not much more".



"It's an adult understanding of quite intimate matters." Also: "We must stress that 'Handsome Devil' is aimed entirely towards adults and has nothing to do with children, and certainly nothing to do with child molesting."
- Morrissey (sources needed)

"...the message of the song is to forget the cultivation of the brain and to concentrate on the cultivation of the body. 'A boy in the bush...' is addressed to a scholar. 'There's more to life than books you know, but not much more' - that is the essence of the song. So you can just take it and stick it in an article about child-molesting and it will make absolutely perfect sense. But you can do that with anybody. You can do it with Abba."
- Morrissey on "Handsome Devil", in the NME, 24 September 1983

"'Handsome Devil': It took a week or two to get my head round it. I knew I wanted to do it, but it took a while to get used to, with him singing those sort of lyrics."
- Andy Rourke, Select, April 1993