I'm Not Scared
Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1987 (Eighth Wonder); 1988 (PSB)
Original album - Introspective
Producer - David Jacob, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - none by PSB; 1987 single by Eighth Wonder, produced by PSB (UK #7)
In 1987, Neil and Chris wrote and produced "I'm Not Scared" for Patsy Kensit and her band Eighth Wonder, basing it on an instrumental they had written two years earlier with Chris's punning title "A Roma." It was their first-ever "outside" production for another artist. (Actually, although it was released under the Eighth Wonder banner, Kensit is the only member of her band who actually took part in the recording.) The resulting track, released as a single the following year, proved a sizeable hit, reaching #7 in the U.K and proving even more successful in other parts of Europe. The Boys then recorded their own extended and significantly harder-edged version for the Introspective album.
The lyrics are somewhat cryptic, but they could well be about (or at least set against the backdrop of) the 1968 Paris student riots, samples of sounds from which are included in the PSB track. The facts that Patsy Kensit speaks bits of French in her rendition, and her b-side is the same song, only translated into French ("J'ai Pas Peur"), lend additional credence to this interpretation.
On the other hand, it's quite possible that Neil is only using the Paris riots as a metaphor for a troubled relationship and/or the narrator's distressed mindset. The lyrics—which Neil has noted that he sings from a female perspective—take the form of an accusatory monologue by one party in this relationship ("If I was you, I wouldn't treat me the way you do"), who's trying to bolster her own confidence in the face of many difficulties ("I'm not scared, babyI'll go anywhere"). Despite it all, however, she asserts her continued interest in the person to whom she's speaking, expressing her wistful desire to read his or her mind. And no, she's "not scared" of what she might learn there. So, at least from that perspective, the song remains hopeful.
Neil himself has commented at some length on this song (in the booklet that accompanied the 2001 reissue of Introspective), along the way indicating that he may have written the lyrics specifically with Patsy Kensit in mind:
One of my site visitors has also suggested that the lyrics might reflect the Pet Shop Boys' feelings about the pop press at the time, which frequently offered unwelcome speculation about the personal lives of pop stars. It's an interesting interpretation, and well worth considering. If that's the case, this song could be heard as a statement of defiance: "I'd go anywhere, babyI don't care." And could that be Neil speaking as a former pop journalist when he sings, "If I was you, I wouldn't treat me the way you do"?
By the way, those who are willing to delve into such things may also be interested in the surprising grammatical controversy that surrounds one of the lines in this song.
- "Oh, take these dogs away from me" – Neil has described this line as a "quote, or a misquote" from the 1940 poem "Senex" by the British poet John Betjeman (1906-1984). The actual line from the poem is, "Oh whip the dogs away, my Lord."
- The b-side of Eighth Wonder's original version is a French-language version of the same song titled "J'ai Pas Peur," which literally means 'I Have No Fear."
- Samples of sounds from the 1968 Paris student riots (often referred to as the "May 1968 Protest") are included in the PSB recording.
Pet Shop Boys rendition:
- Mixer: Pet Shop Boys and David Jacob
- Album version (7:23)
- Introspective Version - Edit (4:37)
- Available only on a rare 1988 U.S. vinyl promo
Eighth Wonder rendition:
- Mixer: Pet Shop Boys and Phil Harding
- Full 7" Version (3:56)
- Radio Edit (3:49)
- Album version (4:30)
- Disco Mix (aka Long Euro Mix) (7:58)
- 10" Remix (5:30)
- Short Version (2:22)
- J'ai Pas Peur (French version) (5:48)
- Mixer: Little Louie Vega
- Little Louie Vega Mix (7:17)
- Little Louie Vega Mix Club Mix (5:17)
- Dub Version (4:55)
- Artists with whom PSB have collaborated
- My 25 favorite PSB songs, period
- The key signatures of selected PSB songs
- Songs that Neil sings avowedly using a female lyrical persona
- PSB songs with literary references
- PSB lyrics that include non-English words and phrases
- PSB songs with "Russian connections"
- PSB songs for which the Boys have acknowledged the influence of specific tracks by other artists
- The 10 longest PSB album tracks (not counting bootlegs, "special editions," or Disco albums)
- PSB songs used in films and "non-musical" TV shows
- The early tracks that the Pet Shop Boys recorded with Ray Roberts and Bobby 'O'
All text on this website aside from direct quotations (such as of lyrics and of other nonoriginal content) is copyright © 2001-2017 by Wayne Studer. All Rights Reserved. All lyrics and images are copyright © their respective dates by their respective owners. Brief quotations and small, low-resolution images are used for identification and critical commentary, thereby constituting Fair Use under U.S. copyright law. Billboard chart data are copyright © their respective dates by Nielsen Business Media, Inc.