Question about Hand That Rocks The Cradle

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andysbassline ®

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Post 03-Feb-2014 03:41

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I'm new to this site, so this might have been discussed before. Anyway, I just wanted to hear your takes on this song. I know some people think it is dealing with child molestation, while others see it as a song about parental love. I can see both theories, but if pressed to pick one, I think I would have to say the former makes more sense. The line "climb upon my knee, sonny boy. Although you're only 3, sonny boy. You're mine", and "your mother she just never knew" are hard to square with a sweet song about parental love.
It's weird because I listened to this song countless times without really ever thinking about the lyrics. I just loved the melody and the imagery about towering wardrobes and pianos playing in empty rooms. Given Morrissey's lyrics in Suffer Little Children, the molestation angle seems to fit with his obvious anger about the child murders of that case. I know he seldom gives a clear-cut answer to what his lyrics mean, and the only quote I've seen about this song doesn't really answer this question, other than to say it isn't about a sexual relationship, which would seem to rule out this interpretation, but he's been known to stretch the truth before.
Ok, sorry if this has been beaten to death before, but if not I'd like to hear some varying opinions. Thanks.
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Halloway

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Post 05-Feb-2014 21:03 (after 2 days 17 hours)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Boy_%28song%29
The first two lines from 'Sonny Boy', made famous by Al Jolson, are quoted. 'Sonny Boy' is quite a strange song. 'Hand..' seems to be an extended riff on the themes in 'Sonny Boy', with a bit of suggested paedophilia thrown in for good measure.
As for the title, 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the Hand That Rules The World' is a poem by William Ross Wallace and is a hymn to the power of motherhood. I suppose Morrissey subverts that somewhat by singing from the point of view of a father whose relationship with the mother of the child in the song is unclear albeit clearly in the past.
There's some discussion here: http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/51219/
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andysbassline ®

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Post 06-Feb-2014 17:27 (after 20 hours)

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Wow, I didn't know he borrowed so much from that song. Morrissey was a brillant lyricist, but he wasn't above a bit of plagiarism it seems. I guess being that well-read, it's almost inevitable. Yeah, that thread on song meanings is what spurred me to ask the question here. I figured there would be a few people that would chime in with their view, but I guess not. Oh well.
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Halloway

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Post 06-Feb-2014 18:47 (after 1 hour 19 minutes)

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Wow, I didn't know he borrowed so much from that song. Morrissey was a brillant lyricist, but he wasn't above a bit of plagiarism it seems.
Oh Morrissey was an arch-plagiarist. I recommend Simon Goddard's 'Songs That Saved Your Life' as a good source of information on that score. Not for nothing did Morrissey once etch 'Talent borrows, genius steals' on the run-out of one of The Smiths' releases. Here's an amusing example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAJcP6x3Ueo
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