"Suffer Little Children"|
The song was written in May-June 1982 although Morrissey had already written the lyrics and Johnny had already composed elements of the music before the pair met. It turned out to be the second completed song by Morrissey and Marr.
It was first professionally recorded in August 1982 at the band's first studio session at Decibel Studios in Manchester, alongside "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle". This version exceeded 7 minutes and featured Johnny on guitar and bass, and Simon Wolstencroft on drums. It ended with a piano part featuring the sound of a music box and playing children.
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. Additional mixing was done and the piano coda was removed during sessions in November 1983 at Eden Studios in London.
This song has never been performed specifically for radio or television.
There is only one known live performance of the song, at the band's first ever concert at the Ritz in Manchester on 4 October 1982. This has never been officially released and has not yet leaked on bootlegs.
"There was all that fuss about 'Suffer Little Children' in the newspapers, all these comments and opinions from people who knew nothing about the group and nothing about music. I felt very sad and angry about that, so much just being headlines. Nobody had approached me and there were long, inflated comments, "Morrissey says this..." and "Morrissey wrote it for this reason...". All of it was totally untrue and I couldn't understand why nobody had asked me. At one point, someone from The Daily Mail rang up, giving me the chance to give my side of the story. Of course, they weren't interested that I got on famously with the parents of the victims. So, they wouldn't print the story. Well, that really upset me."
Did you anticipate the reaction to 'Suffer Little Children'?
"I happened to live on the streets where, close by, some of the victims had been picked up. Within that community, news of the crimes totally dominated all attempts at conversation for quite a few years. It was like the worst thing that had ever happened, and I was very, very aware of everything that occurred. Aware as a child who could have been a victim. All the details... You see it was all so evil; it was, if you can understand this, ungraspably evil. When something reaches that level it becomes almost... almost absurd really. I remember it at times like I was living in a soap opera..."
"Veiling the Moors Murders is wrong. We must bring it to the fore. If we don't overstate things, they'll continue to happen. We don't forget the atrocities of Hitler, do we? In the north, I was painted as a hideous Satanic monster, and the word was that I had upset Ann West [Lesley Anne's mother]. In fact, I had not, and have since become great friends with her. She is a formidable figure."
"I think we probably did it on our first two gigs. I think we were writing better stuff - that's the answer. It was always considered an album track. Maybe we had a doubt about it at the time."
Who did the Hindley laugh on "Suffer Little Children"?
"That was one of the very first rehearsals, and he just came in and hit us with that. It took a bit of getting used to. I remember taking a demo - before I'd even joined the band, they'd done a demo with Si Woolstencroft who drums with The Fall - and I took it home and played it to my brothers who were into the same music as I was into, Neil Young and Bob Dylan and so on, and they were going, 'Ere, what's he singing about there?'"