Jealousy

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1990
Original album - Behaviour
Subsequent albums - Discography, PopArt, Concrete
Other releases - single (UK #12)

Although this is the closing track on Behaviour, it dates back several years beforehand; in fact, it was the very first song that Chris and Neil wrote together—its original title was apparently "Dead of Night"—and thus it holds a very special place in PSB history. Chris had composed the basic melody in 1982 on a piano in the dining room of his parents' home in Blackpool, while Neil's lyrics were apparently inspired by a friend's jealousy over none other than Chris, whom this friend feared had supplanted him in Neil's affections. The Boys had planned to include an earlier rendition on the Actually album, which was initially slated to be titled Jealousy, but they held off on it for reasons that, as far as I know, they've never explained.

Although the protagonist of this song is indeed grievously wronged by his wayward lover, he's no innocent victim. In fact, with his nagging questions about his lover's behavior ("Where've you been? Who've you seen?") you get the distinct impression that he may have driven his partner away from him. Jealousy is, after all, a rather unattractive and ultimately destructive emotion. That's probably what's going on with the song's overblown orchestral coda, which mirrors the narrator's over-dramatized self-pity.

If there's any doubt about this, consider the "Extended Version" (appearing as a bonus track on the CD single), in which Neil quotes briefly from Shakespeare's Othello—a tragedy in which rampant unjustified jealousy is taken to its logical extreme of murder and suicide. As the villain Iago says of the tragic hero as he gradually succumbs to the jealousy that will prove his downfall:

Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.

It's no accident, then, that the "dramatic setting" of this song is a bedroom where the sleepless narrator torments himself: "At dead of night… I lie alone." He has become the inheritor of Iago's curse on Othello.

Incidentally, there are subtle differences between the album and single versions. Most notably, the orchestral backing of the album version was produced by keyboard samplers, whereas the single version was re-recorded with an actual orchestra.

Annotations

Mixes

Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references