Too Many People

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1993
Original album - Alternative
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Very 2001 reissue Further Listening 1992-1994 bonus disc
Other releases - b-side of "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"

A song about what Neil refers to as "role strain"—the sense of being overwhelmed by the many tasks, duties, responsibilities, and roles (sometimes seemingly contradictory) that one must perform in modern-day society. The way this is commonly expressed in everyday parlance is that we "wear many hats." But Neil goes a step farther and suggests that he is "too many people." He adopts a different identity—becomes, in effect, a different person—for each role he fills, which causes not merely "strain" but a great deal of internal conflict. That conflict is at the heart of this song.

There's a perhaps unintentional irony in that such role strain may be exacerbated for lyric-writers like Neil, who frequently assume different personas in their songs. For that matter, we can't even assume with any great confidence that Neil himself should be taken as the "narrator" of "Too Many People."


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