Morrissey A-Z: "I Can Have Both"

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member


Today's song in the A-Z is this Morrissey/Boorer composition, released as a B-side on the "Alma Matters" single.

And if you're into academic discussions of Morrissey, "I Can Have Both" is also the title of an article by three scholars at the University of Limerick in 2014, about Morrissey's counter-hegemonic stance on gender and sexuality...

Anyhow, what do we think of this one?
 
J

Janice

Guest
It took a while, but I like it. I didn’t 20 odd years ago when I first heard it.
sorryI Cam’t have Both - but it’s all good in 2021
Xx
 

Nerak

Reverse Ferret
One of his lilting, gentle, sweet-sad songs.

I love the way the narrator is trying to convince himself he can have both while getting neither.
 

Phranc & Open

two-timer
Should have been on Maladjusted. Too strong for a flip. With an anachronistical Elvis jingle-jangle and a bittersweet melody, that's how I luv me Solo Mozzer.
 

Gregor Samsa

I straighten up, and my position is one of hope.
Goes on for too long. He should’ve written another verse. Other than that, very sweet and melancholy guitar pop, which I simply adore.
 

Thewlis

Junior Member
A gem of a song, criminally left off Maladjusted at the last moment for Wide to Rceive. Love the Boz’ Smiths-jangle on this one, and the lyrics.
One of his finest songs from 1997 and one of his best ever b-sides.

9,6
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
Musically this is fairly thin and there isn't much there. The production also doesn't really add much which is true of many of the 1997 songs.

Lyrically it is also quite simple and the word "treats" always struck me as quite awkward. It could really have done with some additional lyrics, as another poster said, and it feels stretched at more than 4 minutes.

It's also another of those tracks where the vocal melody is doing all of the work.

I would say that it's a slightly above average b-side, but would be a slightly below average album track.

In the poll on the Hoffman board it ranked 144th from 264 solo songs.
 

gordyboy9

rip roaring,free scoring,never boring, celtic.
To be fair, it's hard to get too passionate when choosing between a Dairy Milk and a Snickers.

That's what this song is about, right?
of course it is,him and his mam in the town on a saturday morning with M looking in the window of the local sweetie shop.
good song with good music.8.5 out of 17.
 
D

Deleted member 29421

Guest
I feel that this is someone who's never been able to enjoy the simple things in life that others take for granted. He's older and richer now and trying to choose between the solitude that becomes him and the company he's always craved and which he could easily attain due to his current status. He's still that insecure little boy waiting to 'be enticed inside', when really he can have both. He can have solitude when he wishes and he can have society when he wishes. It's not one or the other. But he's still the little boy 'waiting to be asked'
 

BookishBoy

Well-Known Member
I really like this one, particularly the vocal melody of "shall I, oh shall I?" which is absolutely gorgeous.

The verses are stronger than the chorus but totally agree with others that it needed another verse! And it also really needs something else near the end, musically, like a trumpet or flute. (Which is part of the reason why "Wide to Receive" is so much better than this modest little song.)
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
I absolutely adore this song. My favourite b-side from this era. Maladjusted Morrissey has this very special velvety warmth in his voice, unlike any other period. I could listen to this all day.

And it's about ice cream, btw ;)

Of course it is.

 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
To be fair, it's hard to get too passionate when choosing between a Dairy Milk and a Snickers.

That's what this song is about, right?

I don't think that the choices on offer here are Daily Milk or Snickers, or 2 types of ice-cream (good tries), but I never could put the finger on the meaning of the words for this one. Perhaps I should read the article you mention at the beginning of the thread?
 

CJM

Practising troublemaker
Another song of sexual and physical frustration, I Can Have Both kind of passed me by back in 1997, like most of those Maladjusted misshapes which were at the time cast off to the relative wilderness of a B-Side.

Whatever or whoever is behind ‘the window of the shop that never opens’, the sadness that Morrissey cannot convince himself that he ‘can have both’ is touching. But then again, if the ‘shop never opens’ is this because it is firmly locked from the inside – an unrequited love, or because Morrissey just hasn’t knocked heard enough? The treats inside are clearly covered in lashings of ambiguity, like so many of these wonderful songs.

I always assumed this song, of course, was about bisexuality, and when I hear it I am reminded of that famous Brett Anderson quote; ‘I’m a bisexual man who’s never had a homosexual experience.’ The cynic in me thinks that such a statement was given to help fuel Suede’s media machine, whereas the optimist in me tells me that the lyrics to I Can Have Both are a sorry picture of personal struggle.
 

GirlAfraidWillNeverLearn

Well-Known Member
I don't think that the choices on offer here are Daily Milk or Snickers, or 2 types of ice-cream (good tries), but I never could put the finger on the meaning of the words for this one. Perhaps I should read the article you mention at the beginning of the thread?

I mean, the lyrics don't tell us what it's really about, so all we can do is guess. I think he commented on the song almost every time he sang it live though, so it's fair to assume it's not about something as trivial as chocolate bars.

I always took it as a song about bisexuality as well, especially because it's obvious that he could have both but actually doesn't.
But it may as well be more complex than this.

In his own words:

20210401_123054.jpg


Here's the article for anyone interested.

 
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Nikita

Senior Member
A really nice song, my favorite from that era after Trouble Loves Me - these are the only two songs from that era that I really like.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
I mean, the lyrics don't tell us what it's really about, so all we can do is guess. I think he commented on the song almost every time he sang it live though, so it's fair to assume it's not about something as trivial as chocolate bars.

I always took it as a song about bisexuality as well, especially because it's obvious that he could have both but actually doesn't.
But it may as well be more complex than this.

Here's the article for anyone interested.

Thanks for posting the article.

Reading the useful comments here and thinking about the lyrics more makes me realize the clue is hidden in that little line
"We've brainwashed the small, shy boy inside" as well as the verse it is part of. The sad reality of wanting something (fill in the dots) very badly, but being told in your younger years that it is impossible to get it, which then pushes a person into the passive behavior of waiting to be dragged inside. Reminds me also of the opening lines of "Ask".

It's obvious I didn't spend enough time with this song. But things can change:)
 
I like this purely for sentimental reasons of where it places me in my past when I listen to it.

Objectively it's musically another PH Neutral offering from a band who were either trying to re-capture the Vauxhall sound or had just long since run out of creative ideas or both.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Fairly obviously, I always presumed it was about a young Morrissey realising he doesn't just have to accept the social convention of going with women, but can go with men as well. Kinda surprised anyone reads this in anything other than a sexual preference way.
 
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