Morrissey A-Z: "At Amber"


Well-Known Member

Today's entry in the A-Z is "At Amber" - originally released as a b-side of "Piccadilly Palare" and another of Morrissey's lyrical dabblings in Disability Studies.

What do we think of this one?


"Ooo, there's goobers on his bod." - Ted Cruz
Oooo we are finally at, "At Amber". Can I tell you how much I love this song! So underrated, but always welcome when it pops up on rotation.

Lyrically, its classic Moz. So many potent quotables, from the opening stanza,

I'm calling you from the foyer
Of the Sands Hotel
Where the men and the women
Are acquainted quite well

to his angered telephone companion,

And you, my invalid friend
You slam the receiver when you say
"If I had your limbs for a day
I would steam away"

I even remember listening to the song then actually visiting the Sands hotel in the early 90's. Interestingly enough, I did find it somewhat awful - comparatively to the "new" Vegas strip offerings.

I always felt it was a sound from a time when Morrissey was expressly himself. A song to wrap myself around in, and remind myself of simpler times when Morrisey was in his ascendency as an artist and less complicated in his views/actions.



Reverse Ferret
It's very lovely.

And in his usual odd way makes a fair point, invisible disabilities can be just as limiting as visible ones when society isn't geared to accommodate them... in some ways they're worse because its assumed the person is being difficult or useless deliberately.


I love this song from its sliding/shifting music to the lyrics and there phrasing. It’s amusing the formality of the language mixed with the subject matter. A sort of pomp on the surface with anxiety swimming underneath. Very morrissey


Well-Known Member
I love this song. The theme of other people enjoying themselves while Morrissey observes from the outside is fairly common (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Rubber Ring, etc.) and he often presents himself as incapable of participating and/or spiteful of those who can. But in this song, when he finally admits "it's not low-life, it's just people having a good time" the delivery is perfect and it's one of those rare, warm moments where he gives both himself and the revelers a bit of a break.

Mike Rourke

Active Member
The music's a bit slight but the words are fantastic. So empathetic.
Was great to see it feature in the 2020 set-list (first time ever played live?).


The Courage to Get on People's Tits
The music's a bit slight but the words are fantastic. So empathetic.
Was great to see it feature in the 2020 set-list (first time ever played live?).
Played once before in 2002 in Phoenix on the first date of the tour.



The Courage to Get on People's Tits
Nothing much to add. Morrissey's fantastic version of a negative Yelp-review.

2020 live seems like a distant, beautiful dream now.


Well-Known Member
In either this version or in its The Bed Took Fire form the song is pretty average b-side material. Nothing to really dislike about it, but both musically and lyrically it is pretty thin. The words feel fairly half-baked and I can see why it wasn't exactly a priority to release it at the time.

Generally speaking, with some exceptions, I would say that the quality of songs takes a slide downwards across those first 7 solo singles. That being said, this is certainly much stronger than Get Off the Stage.

I think it was originally intended to be the b-side to Interesting Drug and was one of the 6 songs recorded with Andy, Craig and Mike.

In the poll on the other board it ranked 218 from 264 songs.
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Famous when dead

Almost feels like two ideas for a song merged to make one.
Not seeing how this could have related to burning beds (unless that's a heating option in the hotel) or where invalids come in to it.
Don't be an amber gambler 🚦
Does interest me though due to its writing being so early as to predate the US move, yet clearly showing a love and understanding of all that imagery - self fulfilling prophecy?

Famous when dead

🚦might be too cryptic, see:

"Track two is called "At Amber" and I have to ask you what does "At Amber" mean to start with?

What does it mean? It means...
In England traffic lights are red, amber, and green which they're not here, and amber is being in a state of flux, neither going nor stopping, it's somewhere in the middle.

Now, do you drive over here?

I drive over here, yes. I find it easier to drive here and when I go back to England I begin to make really silly mistakes.

Like driving on the other side of the road?

Well, yes, yes. Sometimes I begin on the wrong side, which is your side, and it's catastrophic really. But it's easier to drive here."

Morrissey 'explains' the song (dodges the question morelike :) ) on KCXX Radio, San Bernardino, August 9, 1998 via motorcycleaupairboy & wayback (10 years post-writing).


Reverse Ferret
Room was so cold he set the bed on fire?

It may as well be on fire for all he uses it?

Bed accidentally catching fire drove him to the lobby to complain to his invalid friend that their physically restricted life was less restricted than his inability to decide what action to take?

I guess he decided being suspended between stopping & starting was a better metaphor.

born to mourn and yawn

Well-Known Member
While listening to the song again, I had to think of "The Graduate" and its amber-coloured dim hotel lobby scenes all of a sudden. Why this came to my mind today, I cannot say.

Not saying that the song is about the film, but maybe there was some inspiration in the film.
"Invalid" does not only mean physically disabled but also "formally wrong" or "not according to regulations", and that's what the ill-fated relationship between Benjamin and Mrs Robinson is.


Well-Known Member
It's a song I haven't listened to a lot because it was on my least favorite EP of the 7 singles before Kill Uncle. And it sounded a little odd at the time, using more synths than what we were used to at that point.

But it was nice to hear it live in 2020. It blends well sonically with the recent stuff from Dog and it showcases a bitchy Moz (The room is cold / I dispute the bill / I sleep in my clothes), in a pleasant way though.

Ketamine Sun

A perfect and lovely song. A b-side, so of course only I knew about it! well at least it felt that way to me at the time.

The working title ‘The Bed Took Fire’ I always thought it pointed to some guilt of his to get out of bed and enjoy life like others do, especially when he is able bodied to do so. The Visconti idea of using the effect Eventide Harmonizer (falling pitch) on the snare was a nice touch.



This isn’t a song that I listen to very much, it’s not a bad song at all but doesn’t really do much for me other than the chorus, certainly not his worst.
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