The song was written during the summer of 1984.
A first version, almost 7-minutes in length, was recorded during the July 1984 sessions at Jam Studios in London with producer John Porter, alongside material that would soon after be released on the "William, It Was Really Nothing" single. A studio version of "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" and an early version of "Nowhere Fast" were also recorded during this session, the latter song tentatively planned as the follow-up single, with "Rusholme Ruffians" and "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" as potential b-sides, but these plans were shelved.
Another version was recorded on 1 August 1984 for the band's third appearance on John Peel's BBC programme (broadcast 9 August 1984), with producer John Porter.
The definitive version was mainly recorded in October 1984 at Amazon Studios in Liverpool, with the Smiths (mostly Johnny) acting as producer and Stephen Street as recording engineer. Overdubs were added the following month at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey. The song's final mixing was done in December 1984 at Island Record's Fallout Shelter.
This song has been done in concert a total of 76 times by the Smiths, perhaps even up to 80 times if we take into account the fact that information is missing for a few shows of that era. The song was introduced to live audiences in September 1984 and was done 8, perhaps even 10 times before the end of that year as the band was touring mostly in promotion of the "Hatful Of Hollow" album. The song was done every night bar three on the 1985-1986 Meat Is Murder tour. On the September 1985 Scottish leg of the latter tour as well as on the handful of loose dates at the beginning of 1986, the song had two verses of Elvis' "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame" tagged on as an intro. The song was done at almost every British date of the 1986 Queen Is Dead tour, but only a handful of times (5 times confirmed, perhaps 7 times in all) on its North American leg. The live medley arrangement introduced at the end of 1985 prevailed throughout the latter tour, except at the London Palladium concert where the band reverted to the basic stand-alone arrangement.