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Meaning of ‘This Night Has Opened My Eyes’ by ‘The Smiths’

Released: 1984″This Night Has Opened My Eyes” by The Smiths isn’t just a song; it’s a haunting narrative that delves deep into the grim realities of life, wrapping tragedy and existential crises in melodious gloom. At its core, this track explores the loss of innocence, the weight of decisions, and the stark realization that life’s dreamlike expectations often crash into hard, immutable truths.

The opening lines, “In a river the colour of lead/Immerse the baby’s head,” thrust us into a dark tale, potentially referencing infanticide or baptism under dire circumstances—both heavy themes that set the stage for the song’s exploration of life’s harsh realities. Wrapped “in the News Of The World,” the baby symbolizes innocence tainted by society’s ills from the onset. The chilling act of dumping “her on a doorstep, girl” speaks volumes of abandonment and the societal shunning of responsibility.

The refrain, “This night has opened my eyes/And I will never sleep again,” serves as a bleak epiphany. It’s as if the veil of naivety has been lifted, revealing a world filled with pain and suffering that can’t be unseen or forgotten. The protagonist is changed, forever haunted by their newfound awareness.

A turning point comes with the lines, “You kicked and cried like a bullied child/A grown man of 25.” It’s a stark reminder of the vulnerability and helplessness that persist into adulthood, challenging the notion that growing up equates to gaining control over one’s life and circumstances.

The song then shifts to a condemnation and acceptance of fate with “Oh, he said he’d cure your ills/But he didn’t and he never will.” It reflects disillusionment with promises of change or salvation that remain unfulfilled, a critique likely aimed at figures of authority or systems of belief that fall short of their purported ideals.

“The dream has gone/But the baby is real” encapsulates the harsh awakening from naive dreams to confront the stark reality—the consequences of our actions are tangible and enduring, unlike the fleeting nature of idealized hopes and dreams.

Morrissey then weaves a complex tapestry of guilt and acceptance with, “Oh, you did a good thing/She could have been a poet/Or, she could have been a fool/Oh, you did a bad thing.” These lines ponder the what-ifs of life’s choices, suggesting that the path not taken holds both potential greatness and despair. It’s a reflection on the ambiguity of right and wrong, and the realization that life’s pivotal moments are often clouded in uncertainty and regret.

The imagery of “A shoeless child on a swing/Reminds you of your own again” brings the song full circle, symbolizing the innocence and joy that life offers, even amidst pain. It suggests a cycle of life and experiences that, despite our best or worst intentions, continue beyond our control.

“This Night Has Opened My Eyes” is a masterful exploration of life’s harsh realities, the complexities of human emotions, and the eternal struggle to find meaning amidst suffering. Through its dark narrative and evocative imagery, The Smiths invite listeners into a profound contemplation of existence, leaving us with the haunting reminder that once our eyes are opened to the world’s truths, they can never be closed again.

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