This song was written at the end of 1982. A slower version than the definitive one was rehearsed upstairs at Joe Moss' Crazy Face Clothing Co in the winter of 1982-83.
The song as we know it was professionally recorded in July/August 1983 at London's Elephant Studios with producer Troy Tate during the shelved initial sessions for the band's debut album, even though it was not meant to appear on it. Unlike the debut album material, it was never re-recorded with producer John Porter when he took over from Troy Tate later that year. The Tate recording ended up being released as a b-side on the "This Charming Man" single.
Sandie Shaw's version of the song (in collaboration with the Smiths) was recorded in March 1984 at Island Records' Fallout Shelter, with producer John Porter.
Another Sandie Shaw version (backed by Johnny only) was recorded for the BBC radio programme Saturday Live, broadcast 14 April 1984.
This song was done in concert at least 31 times by the Smiths, perhaps up to 35 times when taking into account the fact that setlist information is missing for many early concerts. It was introduced at the band's third concert on 4 February 1983 but there are no other known airings of the song until the middle of 1984. Still, it may have been on the setlist at the following two concerts for which the setlist information is missing. After its return to the sets in May 1984, it was played on a majority of dates until the end of the year, for a total of 21, perhaps even 23 performances. It was last heard on the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour where it was done on 8 consecutive engagements in the USA in June, and one final time in Aberdeen that autumn. The decision to revive it in 1985 may have been due to the fact that Billy Bragg, who supported the band on the North American leg, covered the song in his own set.
There are no officially released live recordings of the song at this point in time, but bootleg recordings are circulated.