Before

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1996
Original album - Bilingual
Producer - Pet Shop Boys, Danny Tenaglia
Subsequent albums - PopArt, Ultimate
Other releases - single (UK #7, US Dance #1)

As usual, the first single came out several months before the album on which it subsequently appeared. "Before" proved a major dance-club hit for the Boys and bore a marked Latin influence, though not so strongly as a number of other Bilingual cuts.

The lyrics, for the most part, are rather forthright, simply noting how love, like so many of life's other events, can happen unexpectedly, striking before you're ready for it. In some ways, it's a restatement of "Love Comes Quickly." Most noteworthy, however, are some rather ambiguous lines telling about "a man who loved too much—he ended up inside a prison cell." Many fans thought that these words referred to Oscar Wilde (who, after all, had been referenced in various other PSB songs, such as "I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)" and "DJ Culture"). But Neil later confirmed that he was actually thinking about O.J. Simpson, whose murder trial was taking place while the Boys were recording much of Bilingual. In fact, the lyrics echo a letter that Simpson wrote sometime before his infamous ride through Los Angeles leading to his arrest, in which he stated that if he and his late wife Nicole "had a problem, it's because I loved her too much." As more than one commentator subsequently noted, Simpson's words themselves echoed Shakespeare's Othello, who asserted before stabbing himself that he "loved not wisely but too well."

More controversial still were the picture sleeves of a pair of promo 12" singles, which featured a lifesize close-up of a man's flaccid penis (suggesting before…?). Although they were quick to assert that it wasn't either of them, Neil and Chris have never been able to identify the person whose member was immortalized in this way because the photo was the work of a third party, American artist Richard Prince, taken from a published collection of his photographs. It has, however, been confirmed by Neil and their graphic designer Mark Farrow that using it in this way was Chris's idea.

Incidentally, Chris has also cited "Before" as one of his own favorite PSB songs.

Annotations

Mixes/Versions

Officially released

List cross-references