"Barbarism Begins At Home"


The writing of the musical half of this song goes back as far as the summer of 1983. Its lyrics must have been written between that time and the moment of its live inception in December 1983. The song would continue to evolve lyrically and musically throughout 1984 as the band took it on tour.

The song was mainly recorded in October 1984 at Amazon Studios in Liverpool, with the Smiths (mostly Johnny) acting as producer and Stephen Street as recording engineer. Overdubs were added the following month at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey. The song's final mixing was done in December 1984 at Island Record's Fallout Shelter.


album / full single version {6:55}
"Meat Is Murder" album
• 12" single of "Barbarism Begins At Home"
single edit {3:52}
• 7" and cd-single of "Barbarism Begins At Home"
"The Sound Of The Smiths" [remastered 2008]


The Tube 4 November 1983 [tv]
This 3-song performance (including "Hand In Glove" and "Still Ill") is circulated on video bootlegs. The audio is commonly found in good quality on various manufactured bootlegs as well as in digital format on the internet.
Les Enfants Du Rock 18 May 1984 [tv]
This 3-song live performance (including "Girl Afraid" and "Still Ill") from the 9 May 1984 concert at the Eldorado in Paris is circulated on video bootlegs. The audio from this broadcast is not circulated on manufactured bootlegs, but the audio from the uncirculated video recording of the complete concert is easily found.


The song has been performed live 87 times by the Smiths, perhaps up to 92 times when taking into account the number of unknown setlists from the early Smiths days, which places it at #10 in the list of most played titles by the band. It was introduced on the very last date of 1983 and played on a majority of nights on the 1984 tour promoting the release of the band's debut album (58 times, perhaps even 63, out of 65 dates). It was done on a majority of dates (28 times) during the British and North American legs of the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour, until the end of June after which it was dropped permanently.

The song was done twice on two consecutive dates from May 1984 (Hamburg and Paris). It was done as a duet with Dead Or Alive's Pete Burns at the Royal Albert Hall on 6 April 1985. By the end of its stage life in June 1985, the band would extend the song more and more until it lasted for about 15 minutes, with Morrissey improvising lyrics over its extended outro.

live Paris Eldorado 9 May 1984
see television appearance from 18 May 1984 in 'Media Sessions' section above.


No demos or studio outtakes of this song have leaked to the general public at this point in time.



Morrissey, March 1985: "From the time you get hit when you're a child, as covered in a song called 'Barbarism Begins At Home', violence is the only answer. Conversation is pointless."