He Knows You Know

Introduction: Writing in 1997 for the Script remaster, Fish called it "a song about drug abuse, the lyric originally written while suffering terrible stomach cramps on a desk in the [Unemployment Benefit Office]. My personal excesses and the unwanted advice they attracted from well-meaning people with no experience of the subject were documented and the first version of this song, one we thought was a possible single, was laid on tape."


In an interview entitled Fishy Tales published in Melody Maker 27 Nov 1982 Fish said, "I'd done too much bad speed last year in too short a time, and you know that pain, that knot you get with really bad speed? Well, I just felt so bad, this song formed about the older generation's attitude that drugs are drugs, there are no different types, they're all just drugs and anyone who takes them is weak-willled and has no part in society. Nobody actually stops to think that society's causing the pressures which are pushing people into drugs.

"Nobody wants to know anybody on drugs, nobody's willing to try and and ease the pressure or talk to a guy with a really heavy personal problem who seeks solace in drugs.

"Like, I pictured this guy lying in a bed and he's taken, maybe, for example, a heroin overdose and his parents come in and, instead of trying to understand why, they just say 'I told you so, I told you not to take it'. And I just thought 'He Knows You Know' and that's how the song came about."


‘This is a song about drugs... ’
Fish's intro on The Thieving Magpie.

‘Singing psychedelic praises to the depths of the china bowl’
‘To vomit’ - Source: The Sick Book - Moran, Campbell da Vinci. (Yes, it does exist; a book about chutney juggling! - Ed)

‘listened to the priest... the sacred bread’
Fish is clearly not a Roman Catholic, else he would know that the host is not taken at the confession. That said, the offer might be for a later date.

‘crystal fever’
Meth-amphetamine or heroin are both crystalline before melting and injecting.

'the blind shall lead the blind’
This is an illusion to Matthew 15:14. "Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit."

‘vein lines stiffen’
With injecting over a period of time, the veins become hardened. Eventually, even with the use of a tourniquet it is impossible to get the needle into the vein. 

‘the links in the chemist chain’
Torsten Berger said: "I figure the 'chemists chain' is a pun with two meanings:


  1. a complex molecule, such as cocaine (C17H21NO4, I think :-) ) 
  2. the progression of medicine that a patient might get to battle depression or perhaps pain. You buy medicine at the 'chemists', which I believe is what they call a pharmacy in Britain. This medicine is a 'chain' in that it gets more and more powerful as you go along, and often more addictive in the process."

Mark Dempster feels that the second interpretation is incorrect: "There seems to be some confusion around the words 'chemist chain' - I believe this refers merely to pharmacists, generally called 'chemists' here in the UK; a chemist's chain is simply a retail company who deals in such things - Boots & Superdrug being probably the two biggest chains here."
Where to get this song:


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