Motoring

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2017
Original album - Release 2017 reissue Further Listening 2001-2004 bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Recorded during the Release sessions but never officially released until its 2017 reissue with bonus tracks, this highly "techno-oriented" track—full of jagged rhythms, harmonic dissonance, and melodic patterns that flirt daringly with atonality—had previously surfaced more than a decade earlier on an unauthorized disc of "November 2000 demos." On first listen (when not carefully listening to the lyrics) it strikes you as simply extolling the joys of speeding down the freeway. And, at one very real level, it is precisely that. As the opening lines put it, "The open road—a dream of freedom…. For to live is to drive in fast cars." But though the Boys make no bones about how much fun driving can be, they also make no bones about the deeper, more sinister implications of doing so. Pleasure, as is so often the case, comes at a price.

First consider the ecological impact of driving merely for pleasure. "There's so much to enjoy—to pollute, to destroy." Pleasure and environmental destruction seem to go hand-in-hand when "there's a planet to kill." But, beyond that, ponder the element of masculine psychosexual aggression—what's sometimes referred to only half-facetiously as "testosterone poisoning." And indeed Neil unmistakeably directs his critique toward the masculine half of humanity in the lyric's most pointed couplet—

Come—every man, every boy
How much can you destroy?

—turning not only driving but environmental desecration itself into a competitive sport.

Perhaps it's all a bit heavy-handed, but sometimes it takes a slap to jar someone to his senses. Not that such a song can make any real difference, but at least our heroes make their own positions on the matter known. That is, if they do ultimately decide to release this track and thereby make it "official."

Incidentally, this song represents a remarkable turnaround in light of the Boys' scathing putdown of rock stars who "preach and teach the whole world about ecology" in 1990's "How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?" Then again, Neil is somewhat less open to charges of hypocrisy considering that, at the time they wrote this song, he didn't drive and had never had a driver's license—circumstances that changed in 2008 after he took driving lessons and passed his license exam.

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