A New Life

Writers - Lowe/Springs/Tennant
First released - 1987
Original album - Alternative
Producer - David Jacob, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Actually 2001 reissue Further Listening 1987-1988 bonus disc
Other releases - b-side of single "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"

Co-written with singer Helena Springs—who had also collaborated with Bob Dylan, among others—an early acetate pressing of this track was reportedly titled "New Life, New Love." And Neil once referred to it in a pre-release (1986) interview as "New Love," stating that the song might appear as a solo track for Ms. Springs. As it turns out, she did record her own solo version, although the album on which it appears—a 1987 U.K./German release also titled, like the song itself, New Love—is now an extremely obscure rarity. In fact, the Springs version of the song was released first, two weeks before the PSB rendition first surfaced as the flipside of the "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" single. Retrospectively comparing versions, Neil said of it, "Hers was much more complicated."

In many ways a very positive song, it's given a somewhat dark edge via the downbeat music primarily written by the Pet Shop Boys themselves. Because they had envisioned a female singer, the lyrics were originally written from the point of view of a woman about to leave her husband—indeed embarking on the new life of the title. But, as Neil puts it, "she doesn't know whether she's doing the right thing"; therefore she's leaving surreptitiously, under the cover of night. As she hops aboard a plane and flies away, she looks forward to her new life with the moving lines, "Then rise the daylight sky—how do you get to heaven if you never try?"

In light of Neil's own vocal performance and his stated assertion that he imagines Boy George singing it, it's probably not inappropriate to consider this song from a male perspective as well. On the other hand, it hardly matters; it's equally poignant regardless of narrator's gender.


List cross-references