5 PSB songs inspired by Neil's friend Chris Dowell

Christopher Dowell was a longtime friend of Neil's dating back to their childhood. Together they formed Neil's first band, Dust, and they remained good friends after that band's breakup and Neil's meeting with Chris Lowe, which of course led to the formation of the Pet Shop Boys. But as subsequent events would prove, that "original" Chris continued to influence Neil to the point of being the inspiration for several PSB songs. There are very likely additional songs in the PSB canon that Dowell inspired or influenced in one way or another, but at least there's no doubt whatsoever about these five:

  1. Jealousy
  2. Although it wasn't the first PSB song inspired by Chris Dowell to be released, it was the first to be written—in fact, the first-ever song that the Pet Shop Boys wrote together. Neil has said that the lyrics were partly inspired by the jealousy the "old Chris" (Dowell) felt over Neil's growing time spent with the "new Chris" (Lowe). Neil simply applied that air of jealousy to more overtly sexual/romantic circumstances in the song.

  3. It Couldn't Happen Here
  4. This lyric grew out of Neil's recollection of a conversation he'd had years before with Dowell, during which they both expressed their belief that the AIDS epidemic, which was starting to attract attention because of its rapid spread among the gay population in the United States, wouldn't have such an impact in Britain. But, in a bitter twist of fate, Dowell would soon contract the disease himself, along with thousands of other British gay men, which inspired Neil to reflect sadly on how terribly wrong they'd been.

  5. Your Funny Uncle
  6. Directly inspired by Dowell's funeral following his AIDS-related death, Neil recounts how his friend's uncle—perhaps himself gay but from an older, more repressed generation—met and greeted the young friends of the deceased. The song's closing words ("…no more pain, no fear…. These former things have passed away….") are based on lines from the biblical book of Revelation that Neil read aloud at the funeral.

  7. Being Boring
  8. Neil has forthrightly stated the pervasive sadness of this song, widely considered among the Boys' masterpieces, stems largely from his sense of ironic loss at the divergent trajectories of his and Dowell's lives. Neil's ascent and success as a Pet Shop Boy are juxtaposed against his longtime friend's decline and death: "All the people I was kissing, some are here and some are missing…. But I thought, in spite of dreams, you'd be sitting somewhere here with me."

  9. An Open Mind

    Neil has said that this song is “sort of a rewrite of 'Being Boring,'" and numerous clues with the lyrics point strongly toward it being inspired, at least in part, by his youthful friendship with Chris Dowell.