"Girlfriend In A Coma"
August 1987


Girlfriend In A Coma
Work Is A Four Letter Word (edited)

UK 7" [Rough Trade RT197]
Australia 7" [CBS 651099-7]
France 7" [Virgin 90349]
Holland 7" [Rough Trade RT197 (made in UK)]
Portugal 7" [Transmedia RT197]
Sweden 7" [MNW RT197]


Girlfriend In A Coma
Work Is A Four Letter Word
I Keep Mine Hidden

UK 12" [Rough Trade RTT197]
UK CMS [Rough Trade RTT197C]
Australia 12" [CBS 651099-6]
Greece 12" [Virgin VG-2090Z]
Spain 12" [Nuevos Medios 41-271M]


Additional information:
"Girlfriend In A Coma" was also released as a double a-side with "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" in Germany.


Artwork information:
Shelagh Delaney from a 1961 edition of "A Taste Of Honey". The cassette maxi-single artwork shows more of Delaney than the other two formats. This was the second time Shelagh Delaney appeared on a Smiths cover as she had just graced the recently released "Louder Than Bombs" album.

The 7" singles generally featured the grey variation of the artwork on the front while the 12"s featured the green tinted variation. However, a limited number of UK 7"s were released in the green variation while some copies of the UK 12" sleeve feature the grey or maroon variations. French and Holland 7"s have also been reported with the green artwork. The Australian 7" and 12" sleeves only feature the green variation. The artwork is tinted brown on the sleeve of the Portuguese 7". To add to the confusion, some UK 7"s and 12"s are grey with a bit of green at the edges. The cassette singles are found in both grey or purple tint.

View all these variations on the left of this page.


Etchings on vinyl:
UK 7":
UK 12":


Additional release date information:
UK: 14 August 1987


Chart peak information:
UK: 13
Holland: 36


UK: Promotion of this single was done via white label copies of the 12", one-track Vanderquest promo videos and stock 7"s with a plugger sticker on the sleeve.

Australia: Stock copies of the 7" and 12" formats were promo-stamped in gold on the back and dispatched to media.

France: Copies of the stock 7" were emboss-stamped in a corner of the sleeve with a promo warning in French.

Greece: Promo 12"s were stamped with a promo warning in Greek on the b-side label.

USA: "Girlfriend In A Coma" was chosen by Sire to promote the "Strangeways Here We Come" album. This 12" promo is discussed on the "Strangeways Here We Come" page.



"The very last Smiths' sessions at Streatham we recorded two songs that turned up as B-sides: 'Work Is A Four Letter Word' (a cover of a Cilla Black song), and one called 'I Keep Mine Hidden' which was the last song Johnny and I wrote together and the last song The Smiths recorded together. Now when I play The Smiths - which I do a lot - that song is always the first I play. And it's the one that makes me feel the happiest."
- Morrissey, The Face, March 1990

What are you memories of the final Smiths session in Streatham?
"It was utter misery. The group were really falling to pieces. We'd finished making the record and I thought, 'Right, now for the first time, I can have a couple of weeks way from the group'. That's all it was. I wanted to get away and I felt we should all have taken a holiday. I told Morrissey he needed a holiday. The band put what I thought was really unfair pressure to come up with two B-sides for 'Girlfriend In A Coma'. I fought against it. I felt I'd worked far too hard to be put in that position, coupled with the fact that Morrissey had decided he didn't want to work with Ken. That was OK. That was a problem I could have dealt with. I just felt round the corner it was never ending. It was like I was never going to be allowed to come up for air."
What did you think of the songs you recorded then?
"I wrote 'I Keep Mine Hidden', but 'Work Is A Four Letter Word' I hated. That was the last straw, really. I didn't form a group to perform Cilla Black songs. That's the main thing."
- Johnny Marr, Record Collector, November/December 1992



"His girlfriend may be hovering between life and death, but Morrissey's catch vocal seems non-commital about the whole thing, while the overall feel evokes shadows of The Beach Boys and other early '60's teen vocal groups."
- Jay Strongman, New Musical Express, 15 August 1987