Piccadilly Palare


About Piccadilly Palare

"Piccadilly Palare" was a single released by Morrissey in October 1990. The song features one of Morrissey's former colleagues from The Smiths, Andy Rourke, marking the last time any former member of The Smiths would collaborate with Morrissey. As with "November Spawned a Monster", Morrissey chose to write about a subject unusual in pop music, namely male prostitution around the Piccadilly area of London. The title of the song refers to the cant slang language polari, first used by male prostitutes in the 19th century and then taken up by homosexuals in the 1960s to disguise sexual activities which were illegal in the UK until 1967. It was also used in the BBC radio comedy Round the Horne by the characters Julian and Sandy. The vocals in the background were contributed by Suggs, the lead singer of the band Madness. Morrissey said in his autobiography that he disliked the song. He called it "...a student work of novelty that wears off before noon". 


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Off the rails I was and off the rails
I was happy to stay
Get out of my way
On the rack I was
Easy meat, and a reasonably good buy
A reasonably good buy

The Piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
So bona to vada, oh you
Your lovely eek and your lovely riah

We plied an ancient trade
Where we threw all life's instructions away
Exchanging lies and digs my way
'Cause in a belted coat
Oh, I secretly knew
That I hadn't a clue
(No, no, no, no, no you can't get there that way, you follow me)

The Piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
Exchanging palare
You wouldn't understand
Good sons like you never do

So why do you smile
When you think about Earl's court?
But you cry when you think of all
The battles you've fought and lost?
It may all end tomorrow
Or it could go on forever
In which case I'm doomed
It could go on forever
In which case I'm doomed

Bona drag

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Steven Patrick Morrissey (born 22 May 1959), known as Morrissey, is an English singer and lyricist. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as the lyricist and vocalist of the band The Smiths. The band was highly successful in the United Kingdom but broke up in 1987, and Morrissey began a solo career, making the top ten of the UK Singles Chart on ten occasions. His first solo album, 1988's Viva Hate entered the UK albums chart at number one. Widely regarded as an important innovator in indie music, Morrissey has been described by music magazine NME as "one of the most influential artists ever", and The Independent has stated "most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status he has reached in his lifetime".Pitchfork Media has called him "one of th… more »

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Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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10 facts about this song

Album Release
"Piccadilly Palare" was released as a non-album single by Morrissey in 1990. It later appeared on the compilation album, "Bona Drag."
Chart Performance
Despite its unusual theme and heavy influences from glam rock, the song reached #18 on the UK Singles Chart, continuing Morrissey's strike of UK Top 20 singles.
Song Theme
The song is known for its controversial theme as it focuses on the lives of male prostitutes in Piccadilly, a district in London. "Palare" is a form of slang or cant traditionally used by this community.
Music Composition
Morrissey co-wrote "Piccadilly Palare" with his frequent collaborator Stephen Street.
Music Video
The music video shows Morrissey and his band interspersed with footage of Piccadilly Circus. It was directed by Tim Broad.
Song Lyrics and Morrissey's Claims
Despite the song's explicit references to gay culture and male prostitution, Morrissey claimed that the song was simply about "the rough trade," where young men lead a dangerous life on the streets.
Cultural Linguistics
The use of Palare or Polari slang in the lyrics reflects Morrissey's interest in historical and cultural linguistics. Polari was a form of slang used by sailors, criminals, circus and fairground showmen, and the gay subculture in the UK.
The BBC initially refused to play the song because of its explicit subject matter, but after a few weeks relented and gave it airtime.
Critical reception
The song received mixed reviews from critics, with some reporting it as a powerful reflection of urban life, while others noted its confusing and risqué language.
Despite its relative chart success, the song is one of Morrissey's less well-known numbers, likely because of its controversial theme and less mainstream appeal. Nonetheless, it remains a testament to his ability to blend provocative lyrics with appealing pop melodies.

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