I Want to Wake Up

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1987
Original album - Actually
Producer - Shep Pettibone, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - bonus track with single "Can You Forgive Her?"

The torture of being in love with someone who doesn't love you back. "You're in love with he, she's in love with me, but you know as well as I do I can never think of anyone but you." Tormented by unrequited love, yet loved by someone he himself doesn't love, the narrator feels as though he's living a nightmare from which he desperately wants to wake up. That's pretty much the gist of it—although at the end of the song, in an extremely clever lyrical twist, Neil notes that the only possible way to wake up from this terrible dream, at least in a positive way, is to "wake up with you."

But there's no shortage of ambiguity in this song. I have to confess that for a long time—somewhat uncharacteristically—I really hadn't given a great deal of thought to the implications of the "You… he… she… me" lines noted above. They might outline a heterosexual love quadrangle, but one of my site visitors astutely pointed out to me that they could also be read as a bisexual quadrangle in which the "you" to whom the song is addressed is male, making it three men and one woman in a dizzying eddy of actual and would-be relationships. Perhaps this is why songs like "Tainted Love" and "Love Is Strange" bring tears to the narrator's eyes: they strike too close to home. Is the narrator, up until recently strictly heterosexual in his relationships, only now discovering his homosexual feelings, causing him to want nothing more than to wake up from the bad dream of romantic entanglements and sexual complications in which he now finds himself?

This song originated with a backing instrumental track that Chris wrote on his own, for which he then asked Neil to write lyrics. Neil, for his part, took lyrics that he had previously composed for a song he had written on his own titled "I Heard What You Said"—which have been retained as the first words of the song—and applied them to Chris's track, making appropriate adjustments.



Officially released

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