A song by song response to Actually by the Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys, metaphorically
- Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me”
- Johnny Cash (with Will Oldham) – “I See A Darkness”
- Kelley Stoltz – “Wave Goodbye”
- The Guess Who – “Undun”
- Bon Iver – “Come Talk To Me”
- Moby – “Go”
- Hall & Oats – “Adult Education”
- R.E.M. – “You Are The Everything”
- Tom Waits – “Picture In A Frame”
- Simon & Garfunkel – “A Poem On The Underground Wall”
Inspiration Album: Actually – Pet Shop Boys
- “One More Chance”
- “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (with Dusty Springfield)
- “Hit Music”
- “It Couldn’t Happen Here”
- “It’s a Sin”
- “I Want to Wake Up”
- “King’s Cross”
My Liner Notes
1. “One More Chance” (Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Bobby Orlando) / “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
“One More Chance” was created from another song that was meant for Divine – apparently that song was about paranoia and masochism. Really? “One More Chance” is so seemingly upbeat though. Shows you what I know. I wanted to take this whole PSB album and respond to it with thoughts I have now about what I thought when it was released. Yes, I was a 7th grader. Turns out that I thought about was what it’s like to be a girl, a woman, and what I didn’t know then, but a feminist. So the Leslie Gore song struck me. I’ve always loved it’s forthright defiance. Only after choosing it did I hear bout its use in the the anti-Romney campaign for Women’s rights. Sometimes coincidences are meant to be.
2. “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” (with Dusty Springfield) (Lowe, Tennant, Allee Willis) / “I See a Darkness – Johnny Cash with Will Oldham
I wish I was cooler when I was 12. Would I have liked Johnny Cash or Bonnie Prince Billy? Probably not, because they weren’t poppy enough for my bubblegum sensibilities. I was a New Waver/ Madonna Wanna-be. The PSB/Dusty Springfield duet is a classic. So many 80s power duets don’t hold up, but this one does. The synth pop is an orchestral backing to the aria like quality of Springfield’s chorus and bridge. It’s just so darn pretty. In the same way, this variation on BPB’s song is similarly textural. Only Cash’s voice could make Will Oldham’s sound innocent and angelic. Both songs are haunting to me but just enough for both ages.
3. “Shopping” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Wave Goodbye” – Kelley Stoltz
My original reaction was to have a song that had spelling in it since the song spells out s-h-o-p etc. But segue is important and keeping with oldie/country was key. This Kelley Stoltz song has perfect appeal. “Buy the thing that makes you happy…” The lyrics are light and hearty at the same time. About stuff. About things that must be done. About obligations. About endings.
4. “Rent” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Undun” – The Guess Who
Confusion. Rent boy? Hermaphrodite in North Beach, SF. I get my Oprah book club books confused and got Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides confused with She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb when I was brainstorming song reponses for this one. I guess because it’s men writing books from the point of a “women”. There’s no Middlesex song so I chose the song that inspired the title of the Wally Lamb book.
5. “Hit Music” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Come Talk to Me” (Peter Gabriel Cover) – Bon Iver
Possibly my favorite anti-hit cover. Peter Gabriel’s song was mainstream enough to be recognizable but introspective enough to alienate pop. Just the sort of mood I like in songs, screw everyone else. I also was aching for a cover song, a pop song,… what to do… I love this version. From banjo to synth, it’s a value meal.
6. “It Couldn’t Happen Here” (Tennant, Ennio Morricone, Lowe) / “Go” – Moby
I have an intimate relationship with northwest movies and TV of the 90s…. Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, Harry and the Hendersons. You got it. The beginning of this song is very reminiscent of Twin Peaks. I wanted to use the Twin Peaks sound track here because the opening of this song creates that same mood. This song samples the Twin Peaks theme.
7. “It’s a Sin” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Adult Education” – Hall & Oats
Sex ed.? The non-biology part. Or lack of.
8. “I Want to Wake Up” (Tennant, Lowe) / “You are the Everything” – REM
Dream state’s can be quirky things.
9. “Heart” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Picture in a Frame” – Tom Waits
Pick a love song that’s long lasting. So many love songs are trite and just about that first infatuation stage. I think PSB’s Heart is that, but in a good way. The foil to that is Waits long game of love.
10. “King’s Cross” (Tennant, Lowe) / “Poem on the Underground Wall” – Simon & Garfunkel
Underground = Subway = King’s Cross station in London
Thanks Angela for the Gracie pic!