PSB songs with distinct "Beatles connections"

I'm not alone in thinking Tennant-Lowe can make a serious claim to being the finest pop songwriting team since Lennon-McCartney. And occasionally in interviews the Boys have said things that indicate that they themselves feel a sort of "artistic kinship," so to speak, with the earlier pair. (Perhaps not incidentally, Neil has said that the first album he ever bought was the Beatles' "White Album.") So it's not surprising that "Beatles connections" should turn up now and then in Pet Shop Boys songs. Mind you, this brief list doesn't even touch upon songs that have been cited by critics as being stylistically "Beatlesque," such as "I Get Along." Nor does it include songs with more tenuous, "indistinct" connections, such as PSB tracks recorded at the famed Abbey Road studios, where the Beatles had often recorded and which provided the title of one of their albums. But the following songs have more than just "third-party others" or elements of style in common with the Beatles.

1. All the Young Dudes

Written of course by David Bowie and originally recorded in 1972 by Mott the Hoople, the Pet Shop Boys covered this song in a live performance on BBC Two radio on February 23, 2024, thereby making it a "PSB song." It includes a notoriously dismissive line about the narrator's brother "back at home with his Beatles and his Stones." The very next line heightens the comic scorn by describing those bands' music as "that revolution stuff," in the process invoking the title of a Beatles classic, "Revolution."

2. Home and Dry

Toward the end Chris twice speaks the words "We're going home," which the Boys have acknowledged to be a tip of the hat to the Beatles' song "Two of Us," the refrain of which ends with those same words.

3. I Made My Excuses and Left

Neil's lyrics for this song were partly inspired by the story of John Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, coming home one day to find John and Yoko sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring into each other's eyes. Almost immediately she realized that her marriage was over.

4. I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing

While the lyrics don't specifically relate to the Beatles in any way, this song is replete with "Beatles references." It was shortly after the release of Very that Neil told an interviewer (in so many words) that what he and Chris were doing was akin to what Lennon and McCartney might have done if they'd had access to nineties musical technology back in the sixties. As if to underscore that very point, the single version of "Normally" (as opposed to the much sparser album version) was embellished with instrumental flourishes highly reminiscent of "psychedelic era" Beatles: droning tambouras, piccolo trumpets, and backwards percussion, yet all done with a decidedly "nineties flavor." And the video similarly hybridized 1967 and 1993, featuring Chris and Neil wearing "moptop" wigs and cavorting with twin go-go dancers against a backdrop of computer-generated psychedelia. In short, lyrical references were hardly necessary.

5. Love etc.

In discussing this song back in 2009, Neil asserted, "It's actually saying all you need is love and money can't buy me love. It's a return to the Beatles, and I think that's an appropriate sentiment for where the world is at the moment."

6. Loneliness

The lyrics refer to being "Like Ringo walking by the canal, downcast and alone," an image drawn from the classic 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day's Night, essentially transforming Ringo (as he appears in this scene) into an emblem of loneliness—even if it is actually the River Thames, not a canal, that Ringo walks along in the movie.

7 Luna Park

Chris has noted that the overall "sound" of this song was inspired by the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

8. Metamorphosis

The line "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream" is lifted directly from the Beatles classic "A Day in the Life."

9. Nothing Has Been Proved

The words "'Please Please Me''s number one" is a reference to the Beatles' first big hit song in the U.K., which coincided with the notorious Profumo Affair of 1963, which the song—as well as the movie, Scandal, for which it was composed—is all about. As one of my site visitors has pointed out, it's possible that the reference is actually to the album of that title (the Beatles' first U.K. album, Please Please Me, also hit #1), but since the album takes its title from the song, it's all the same.

10. Up Against It

Neil borrowed the title line from a screenplay that British playwright Joe Orton wrote for a proposed Beatles movie. Nothing came of the film, although the screenplay was eventually published in 1979—well after the demise both of the Beatles as a band and of Orton himself.

11. The Way It Used to Be

One line in the song goes "We'd spend the weekend lost in bed and float upstream." This is almost certainly a conscious echo of a line from the Beatles song "I'm Only Sleeping": "Stay in bed, float upstream."

And although it's certainly not a "PSB song," we shouldn't ignore the Noël Coward tribute album, Twentieth-Century Blues, executive-produced by Neil Tennant and featuring Paul McCartney on the song "A Room with a View." Neil personally talked the ex-Beatle into participating in the charity project.

Also not a connection to a specific song, but a Beatles connection nonetheless, is the fact that the title of their album Yes was partly inspired by an unconventional artwork that Yoko Ono had created back in the 1960s—one that played a role in bringing John and her together. Lennon had been impressed by a piece in which the viewer needed to climb a ladder and hold up a magnifying glass to read a small inscription on the ceiling. The inscription: "Yes!"

Finally, Chris and Neil have done three remixes of Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice"—a song that she and John Lennon had been working on shortly before Lennon's murder.