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 of my site visitors wrote to say that, considering such lines as "Then you smiled and I was lost" and "All at once you changed my life," he believes this song is more about newly discovering love, and I can't say that I disagree. Neil himself, in fact, has confirmed as much, stating in the booklet that accompanied the 2001 reissue of Behaviour that "Was It Worth It?" is "about me starting a relationship." But the two interpretations really aren't so far apart. If this song is about Neil starting his first serious gay romantic relationship—as it almost certainly is, especially in light of the lyrics on their very next album, Very—then this song could well be an expression of Neil fully embracing his homosexuality both romantically and, as it were, sociologically and even politically.

Neil has noted that, before they started work on Behaviour, he had written the verse portion of this song on the piano, to which Chris later added chords for the chorus. One portion of the song can even 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 video—which fortunately did make it onto the PopArt DVD—with Neil singing amidst a rapturously partying crowd complete with drag queens (thus tying in to the song's broader meaning), is a particular hoot.

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