This song is among the very first ones written by Morrissey and Johnny, circa the end of the summer of 1982. It really took form during the rehearsal sessions at Spirit Studios in late 1982.
It was first recorded in a professional studio at the band's second recording session, at Drone Studios in Manchester in December 1982, alongside "What Difference Does It Make?" and "Handsome Devil", to be sent to EMI in the hopes of securing a record contract with them. This version exceeded 7 minutes and its second half was quite different musically (and in a certain measure also lyrically) to that of the definitive final version.
It was recorded again on 18 May 1983 for the band's first appearance on John Peel's BBC programme (first broadcast on 31 May 1983), with producer Roger Pusey.
It was professionally recorded once more in July/August 1983 at London's Elephant Studios with producer Troy Tate during the initial sessions for the band's debut album.
The definitive version was recorded in mid-October 1983 at Pluto Studios in Manchester, with producer John Porter.
This song has been done in concert a total of 104 times by the Smiths, perhaps up to 124 times if we consider the absence of information for many 1983 and 1984 concerts. It was played at each and every 1983 show for which the setlist is known, which means a confirmed 28 times, but possibly up to 44 times. It was done twice during the UK leg at the start of the 1984 tour promoting the band's debut album, but then almost every night following that leg, until the end of the year, for a total of 29 performances, perhaps up to 33. It was on the setlist each and every night on the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour, and played once in the batch of loose dates early the following year. In addition to the above, the song was also done as a one-off medley with "London" at the band's final concert on 12 December 1986.