In Private

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1990 (Dusty Springfield); 2006 (PSB with Elton John)
Original album - Reputation (Dusty Springfield); Fundamental special edition bonus disc (Fundantalism) (PSB)
Producer (PSB/EJ version) - Pet Shop Boys, Stuart Crichton; (Dusty Springfield version) - Julian Mendelsohn, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Format, Release 2017 reissue Further Listening 2001-2004 bonus disc
Other releases - single (Dusty Springfield; UK #14); bonus track with single "Minimal" (PSB)

In addition to producing and mostly writing half of her 1990 album Reputation, the Boys gave Dusty Springfield a significant British hit with this remarkably snide musical monologue about hypocrisy in sexual relationships. Like "Nothing Has Been Proved," it was written for the film Scandal, but unlike that song, it was rejected for use in the movie. No "PSB version" of "In Private" came to light, not even a demo, until more than 15 years later, when the Boys recorded it as a duet with Elton John and released it on the Fundamentalism bonus disc and, in an alternate mix, as a bonus track on the "Minimal" single. More about that shortly.

In the original Dusty Springfield version, the narrator berates her lover for vociferously affirming their relationship in private but refusing to acknowledge it in public. She states her willingness to wait a while longer for her lover to "go public," so to speak, about their love. But only a while. In the last verse, in fact, she as much as threatens to go public herself. As with the later "Confidential," this scenario could very easily be applied to relationships both heterosexual and homosexual—and, as the later PSB/Elton version demonstrated, it's not totally dependent on the gender of the singer, either. The chief difference between the two songs lies in the attitude of the narrator: resigned in "Confidential," but blatantly confrontational in "In Private."

That difference is also reflected in the music: "Confidential" is slow and in a minor key, while "In Private" is uptempo and in a major key. In short, the narrator of "In Private" is far more the aggressive and assertive of the two. She won't take her lover's exploitive, hypocritical crap much longer.

The April 2005 issue of the Pet Shop Boys' fan club magazine Literally mentioned in passing something that came as a total surprise to most if not all fans: that in late December 2003, while they were working on the single version of "Flamboyant," they had also re-recorded "In Private" with Elton John! Needless to say—but I'll say it anyway—the male/male duet of this new rendition adds an unavoidably bisexual dimension ("When you run back to your wife…") that didn't exist in Dusty's original.


While the addition of one small word like "and" may seem trivial to many observers, such a thing can certainly change the meaning and/or effectiveness of a lyric. So I can certainly understand how it might annoy as careful a lyricist as Neil.


Officially released

Dusty Springfield rendition

Pet Shop Boys/Elton John rendition

List cross-references