Meaning of “Asleep” by The Smiths

Many fans have interpreted The Smiths’ “Asleep” as being based on the desire of the singer (Morrissey) to commit suicide. But while he does express a craving for death, at no point do the lyrics specify that he wants to meet this goal by taking his own life. In fact it would seem via the phrase “sing me to sleep” he is rather imploring someone else to do the deed for him. 

However, that can also be interpreted as an allusion to Morrissey taking his own life, as in he is addressing the substance he intends to use to achieve this aim rather than another individual. But what he does definitively state is that he “(does not) want to wake up”. This would imply that despite his inclination to die in the immediate future, he will still arise anyway.

A more-plausible interpretation is that Morrissey is overtaken by emotions that are just too much for him to bear. It has also been put forth that this song was written in the aftermath of a close friend of the singer’s passing away, as in Morrissey expressing a desire to join this companion in the afterlife.

Indeed we see that what seems to be bothering him the most is loneliness, as he states he does not want to be “on (his) own anymore”. But either way, the conclusion is the same. The singer is not pleased with life (despite never overtly stating so) and is longing for the ultimate release from it. And by doing so, he anticipates gaining access to “a better world”.

“Sing me to sleep
I’m tired and I
I want to go to bed
Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
And then leave me alone
Don’t try to wake me in the morning
‘Cause I will be gone”


The way this song has been interpreted is as the vocalist’s stated desire for someone to “sing (him) to sleep” actually being a death wish. In other words, Morrissey is portraying a depressed character, one who is so, as insinuated in the second verse, due to being “on (his) own”, i.e. lonely and also perhaps overwhelmed by the troubles of the world. 

So now, he wants to experience a sleep that he will not wake up from, which does, logically speaking, read like an allusion to death. For under the narrator’s estimation, “there is a better world” than the one he’s currently stuck in.

Facts about “Asleep” 

Although this track was originally released as a single (on the B-side to “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”), it was subsequently featured on multiple other Smiths’ albums, including 1987’s The World Won’t Listen.

Despite this track being a favorite among fans of the Smiths, it was only performed live once. And that happened on 1 October 1985 and even then due to happenstance.

The Smiths recorded “Asleep” on the same day they did “Rubber Ring”, with the two being featured as one continuous track on the 12-inch single release of The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.

“Asleep” was written and produced by Morrissey along with fellow the Smiths’ member Johnny Marr.

This Smiths’ classic is widely regarded as one of the most depressive songs of all time.

Media Appearances and Covers of this song

This track has been covered by a number of musicians as well as featured in different popular media, notable amongst them being Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and the 2011 action film “Sucker Punch” (which featured a cover of “Asleep” by Emily Browning). 

When did The Smiths release “Asleep”?

This song’s original release date was 16 September 1985. It was published by Rough Trade Records.

Is there really a better life after death as Morrissey claims in “Asleep”?

Death is the exact opposite of life. It is the universal end of life for all living organisms and plants on earth. In humans, death occurs when a person’s heart stops beating and the brain and breathing stop, causing all biological processes that support life processes to stop.

The decomposition and dissolution of all parts of the body immediately follow death. Although the causes of death are well known today, many questions about human existence and death remain partially unsolved. One of the fundamental questions about death is whether there is life after death.

The existence and conditions of a new life after death remain a debate for the living. Is there a better life after death? If possible, how could it be achieved? These are the usual topics of debate today.

Death is just the beginning

Some people see death as the beginning of a new life. They believe that every human being has a soul that death cannot destroy. The soul remains after death and has a second chance to have a better life after death. Today, other people and some religions believe that a person can have a better or worse life after death depending on the decisions that he makes while alive.

However, most religions teach that following religious beliefs can earn you a better life after death. In Christianity, it is believed that anyone who accepts and confesses Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior will enjoy an eternal and fulfilling life with God in Heaven, his home. Christians firmly believe that there is definitely a better life after death if they believe in Jesus and adhere to all of his commandments in his holy book, the Bible.

Muslims also teach that there is life after death and that it is called Akhirah. They encourage each other in faith to always obey the commandments of Allah (God). Their sole purpose of doing this is to make sure that when they die they will be raised from their graves and taken to Jannah or to heaven. This place is believed to be a garden of eternal happiness and the most peaceful place that Allah (God) created.

Any Evidence?

All of these beliefs have been the subject of much criticism from many who do not accept them. Some scientists and researchers still discourage these beliefs because they claim that the beliefs lack sufficient scientific and physical evidence, but are simply based on knowledge from ancient books and myths.

They suggest that the evidence of our senses and the growing strength of scientific evidence strongly affirm the fact that there is no existence after death. A better life after death for them is a negative state of mind that limits a person’s abilities in the present life. They propose that there is no complete afterlife and therefore everyone should make the most of their current life and not use the belief in a better life as an excuse to do it, what is necessary and what is necessary.

The possibility of a better life after death should be thoroughly investigated rather than overlooked by scientists and researchers. Also, it should not be used as an excuse for anyone to avoid a better life while alive, because after all, “a better life after death” has not yet been fully proven beyond doubt, by any means.

2 Responses

  1. Mahesh says:

    you are a sharp shooter. you touched the topic life after death, straight forward. I strongly agree with your conclusion. Hinduism strongly believed in life after death. But your opinions are indeed correct. I agree with you 100%.

  2. John says:

    A very balanced and beautiful piece of writing. Well done – I too agree 100%.
    Wish there were more people like you that wrote like this

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