Was It Worth It?
Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1991
Original album - Discography
Producer - Brothers in Rhythm, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Behaviour 2001 reissue Further Listening 1990-1991 bonus disc
Other releases - single (UK #24)
This is PSB in full-out "Stock-Aitken-Waterman mode," as Neil himself has pointed out. A high-energy dance track that also owes more than a slight debt to house music, it can with good reason be viewed as Neil's "coming out" song, although the Boys recorded it about three years before Neil "officially" acknowledged his gayness in print. Positively defiant in the face of obstacles, social and otherwise (such as AIDS), Tennant asserts, "I reserve the right to live my life this way, and I don't give a damn when I hear people say I'll pay the price that others pay." To the question posed in the title, he replies, "Yes, it's worth living for…. Yes, it's worth giving more."
One portion of the song can trace its roots back to the days before Neil and Chris met. In 1980 Neil recorded a rough acoustic demo of a tune he had written titled "The Man on the Television." Part of this song was a sort of "call and response" in which single-word questions like "What?" and "Who?" are shouted out in reply to statements in the lyrics. More than a decade later, the Boys decided to repurpose this idea and even a hint of the melody in the middle-eight bridge of "Was It Worth It?"
The one track on Discography that wasn't released as a single until after the album came out, "Was It Worth It?" unfortunately proved somewhat less successful in Britain than other recent PSB singles, which probably explains the fact that it has the further (and dubious) distinction of having been left off the later PopArt CD collection. But the videowhich fortunately did make it onto the PopArt DVDwith Neil singing amidst a rapturously partying crowd complete with drag queens (thus tying in to the song's broader meaning), is a particular hoot.
- "But until that day it was only a rumour" – The lines culminating in these words seem to suggest that persistent rumors about Neil being gay weren't "technically" true until some point after they had begun. In other words, was Neil a "virgin" to homosexuality until sometime after he had achieved fame as a Pet Shop Boy? To be honest, it's none of our business—except that such lyrics as these practically invite us to make it our business. Then again, if you consider that Neil's lyrical personna in this song may not be "Neil Tennant," then the whole discussion becomes moot.
- "I don't give a damn when I hear people say I'll pay the price that others pay" – Could that "price" be the sacrifice of major pop music success? Or AIDS? It may be nothing more than a coincidence—though an extremely intriguing one—that Discography, featuring this song, was released in exactly the same month, November 1991, that Freddie Mercury succumbed to the disease. "Was It Worth It?" was written and recorded well before Freddie's death. But rumors about his declining health had been rampant in the U.K. press (not to mention music industry insiders) long before he publicly acknowledged his illness just one day before he died.
- Mixer: Paul Wright
- 7" Mix (4:27)
- Available on Discography
- 7" Mix (4:27)
- Mixer: Pet Shop Boys
- 12" Mix (7:15)
- Available on the Further Listening bonus disc with the Behaviour reissue
- 12" Mix (7:15)
- Mixer: Creative Thieves
- Dub Mix (5:16)
- The key signatures of selected PSB songs
- PSB tracks that contain samples of other artists' music
- My all-time favorite Chris Lowe sartorial statements
- Notable guest appearances in PSB videos
- Songs written by PSB that were inspired by AIDS (plus a few more debatable interpretations)
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