Meaning of “Reel Around the Fountain” by The Smiths

Reel Around the Fountain is a Smiths‘ song which talks about the loss of innocence. Speaking with Rolling Stone magazine, Smiths’ singer Morrissey said of the meaning of the song as one that is about the “loss of innocence”, and that until a person has a “physical commitment” with someone else, there’s going to be “something childlike” about the person’s soul, hence the birth of the famous line, in which Morrissey sings about taking a child and making “him old”. It is worth noting that the lyrics of the song are very rife with sexual undertones and connotations with phrases such as “fifteen minutes with you”, “the haven of your bed” and “reel around the fountain”. Also, it must be known that over the years, a number of tabloid papers and music critics have suggested that the lyrics of Reel Around the Fountain condone child abuse.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Smiths's Reel Around the Fountain at

Reel Around The Fountain lyrics

Facts about “Reel Around the Fountain”

  • The song was written by Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr and Morrissey. Marr wrote the music while Morrissey wrote the lyrics of the song. According to Marr, he got the melody of the song while he was trying to use his guitar to play the smash hit song Handy Man by American singer Jimmy Jones.
  • The line in which Morrissey sings about dreaming about someone “last night” and falling out of his “bed twice” was taken from the famous 1958 Shelagh Delaney play A Taste Of Honey. Many Smiths’ fans were unhappy when they found out that the line in question wasn’t Morrissey’s original creation.
  • The piano on the song was played by English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Carrack who has worked with several other famous artists such as Elton John, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and B.B. King, among others.
  • The song is the 1st track from The Smiths’ self-titled album that came out in 1984.
  • The song has a total length of 5 minutes and 58 seconds.

13 Responses

  1. Danny says:

    It’s “Haven of your bed” not Heaven

  2. Keith Krugerud says:

    I hardly think the lyric condones child abuse. The child is more the soul abusing the self, so the self beating and slapping are more a sense of masochism on behalf the speaker talking to his own soul and asking it to confess its story or tale to finally be told in full, basically tell and face the truth.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Mathilde says:

    I thought it was a song dedicated to his mum, since he talks about his childhood and something slapping him on the patio. but I’ve never actually read the lyrics and english isn’t my first language. I stopped liking the song, cause i, too, thought that it might’ve been sexual, and I don’t like that the song hereby also was dedicated to his mum. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

  5. tulip says:

    I think this song is about FAME, pining for fame, 15 minutes of it in the Warholian sense. If you wanna get figurative about it I think the olden child could be Andy Warhol or what happens to you once fame is attained.

  6. J says:

    I discovered The Smiths in just the last few weeks (10/2022). These albums were never part of my experience growing up. What I took it to mean was at first some type of s**omy or forceful lovemaking. But then the more I listened, perhaps it’s about an abusive grandmother whom everyone says isn’t a threat (“half-dead”) but slaps him on the patio and he knows the truth of her brutality, and now that she is on her deathbed, he’s finally willing to forgive her (“15 minutes with you. I wouldn’t say no.”)

  7. Wild Forever Young Fairy says:

    oh cmon. its all about gay cruising. 15 minutes near the fountain is enough. to be child no more.

  8. E says:

    The fountain was a real place apparently featured in a Manchester mall outside a pub/restaurant called El Patio. You can imagine a bunch of youth running around, playfully, engaging, flirting and socializing. I think the song is about youth, that thrill and longing of spending time with others you want to be with. . . As opposed to the reality usually that most of us in our youth felt pretty lonely and weren’t out having this good time we believed everyone else was having. And it was such a gift, believing we weren’t wanted or admired, for anyone to see anything in us. There’s a youthful longing in this song.

  1. July 8, 2017

    […] Reel Around the Fountain […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...