My dozen favorite PSB quatrains

I consider Neil, who writes the large majority lyrics for the Pet Shop Boys—not all of their lyrics, to be sure, but undoubtedly the very large lion's share—to be one of the finest pop-music lyricists of his generation. In fact, I love PSB lyrics every bit as much as I love their music. So trying to specify a small selection of those lyrics as my personal favorites is challenging, to say the least. Nevertheless, here's my crack at my "Top 12," aided by my decision to limit my choices to quatrains: four adjacent lines with a distinct rhyming pattern, usually either A-B-C-B or A-B-A-B. In a few instances, however, I've picked "double couplets" that might be viewed as quatrains with an A-A-B-B rhyme scheme. (If that's cheating, so be it.) Of course, this excludes a number of other superb lyrical segments, including standalone couples, triplets, other less conventional rhyming groups and, to be sure, other quatrains. It's simply easier to come up with a list of just a dozen with the limitation.

I list them here in approximate chronological order based on when the pertinent songs were first released—not in my order of preference, which I'd be hard-pressed to nail down, anyway:

  1. From "Rent":

    You phoned me in the evening on hearsay
    And bought me caviar
    You took me to a restaurant off Broadway
    To tell me who you are

  2. From "If There Was Love":

    There's a hole in the sky
    As distant and vast
    As our moral vacuum
    And growing as fast

  3. From "Being Boring":

    But I sat back and looking forward
    My shoes were high and I had scored
    I'd bolted through a closing door
    And I would never find myself feeling bored

  4. Again, from "Being Boring":

    I never dreamt that I would get to be
    The creature that I always meant to be
    But I thought in spite of dreams
    You'd be sitting somewhere here with me

  5. From "DJ Culture":
  6. Now, as a matter of pride
    Indulge yourself, your every mood
    No feast days or fast days
    Or days of abstinence intrude

  7. From "To Step Aside":

    Or will spring bring rain and summer burn?
    Will tears at last precede the turn
    From summer warmth to sudden cold
    As certainly as growing old?

  8. From "The View from Your Balcony":

    In a romance of the old school
    If you lived in this tower block
    You'd be a victim of the system
    A subject for punk rock

  9. From "Closer to Heaven":

    In my hopes
    Paradise is real
    Horoscopes
    Can't forecast how we'll feel

  10. From "I Didn't Get Where I Am Today":

    I've been called repressed
    A poet, a pest
    I didn't get where I am today
    Without getting in someone's way

  11. From "The Resurrectionist":

    We had a drink, then a couple more
    At the King of Denmark and the Fortune of War
    A handsome lad lay in a Hansom cab
    Soon to be a stiff 'un on the slab

  12. From "King of Rome":

    The desert moon, a new lagoon
    We glide upon the surface
    Night falls fast, no shadows cast
    Arriving without purpose*

  13. From "Into Thin Air":

    Too much ugly talking
    Too many bad politicians
    We need some practical dreamers
    And maybe a few magicians


*I realize that these lines from "King of Rome" scan as six lines with an A-A-B-C-C-B rhyme scheme, and are printed that way on the Pet Shop Boys' official website. But considering their brevity, I personally feel it also scans quite nicely as an A-B-C-B quatrain with internal rhymes in the first and third lines—and, technically, a "flawed" (surface/purpose) but nevertheless highly effective rhyme in the second and fourth lines.