So Sorry, I Said
Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1989 (Liza Minnelli); 2001 (PSB)
Original album - Results (Liza Minnelli); Introspective 2001 reissue Further Listening 1988-1989 bonus disc (PSB)
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - single by Liza Minnelli, produced by PSB (UK #62)
Originally released on Results and subsequently released as its third single. Drawing from Liza Minnelli's theatrical background, Neil and Chris took much of their musical inspiration for this song from Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. Thematically, it addresses the fact that sometimes it's much easier to stay in a relationship, no matter how faulty and troubled it is, than to go through all the difficulty of leaving it. So the narrator compares her circumstances to those of living in a ghetto or a prisontrapped, but at least trapped in it with someone else, and therefore (and most importantly!) not alone. Whenever problems arise, it's easier simply to apologize ("So sorry, I said") and continue on as before. The last line of the final verse, in which the narrator implicitly compares herself—and, by implication, perhaps her partner as well—to snakes ("I couldn't leave you; think of the skins I'd have to shed"), is nothing less than brilliant.
In a 2010 interview, Neil revealed the fascinating fact that he and Chris had originally envisioned "So Sorry, I Said" as a duet between Liza and Frank Sinatra, with whom she had recently been touring. Liza, however, didn't want to sing it with Sinatra; instead she wanted Neil to duet with her. They compromised by having Liza sing it by herself. The Boys naturally regretted not having this chance to work with the legendary Sinatra and have him record one of their songs, but at least they did get to meet him later on at a dinner with Liza.
At any rate, the Boys' own demo of this song, released with the 2001 reissue of Introspective, isn't substantially different from Liza's version aside from Neil's vocal.
- "… gone and painted the town bright red" – To "paint the town red" is a clichéd expression in English that means to behave in an unruly or scandalous manner in public. It dates back at least to the 1800s, and originally implied violent behavior that was likely to result in the spilling of blood; thus the "red." But with time the implication of violence was replaced by suggestions more of partying, drunkenness, and/or sexual license, which is what it almost invariably means today. The Boys' insertion of the word "bright" achieves three goals: (1) it renders a cliché less clichéd (always a good thing), (2) it intensifies its meaning (not merely painting the town red, but bright red!), and (3) it gives the line the number of syllables it needs to fit the song's metre (rhythmic structure).
- "And you say you've never believed in luck" – A scathingly sarcastic line. The narrator is pointing out the irony—if not outright hypocrisy—of her lover's apparent disbelief in luck when (at least from her perspective) their meeting and falling in love is the luckiest thing that ever happened to him. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm continuing to assume a feminine narrator since Neil and Chris, despite their own demo rendition, apparently wrote the song specifically for Lisa Minnelli. Then again, considering that, as noted above, the Boys actually wanted Liza to duet with Frank Sinatra, maybe this would have been one of his lines. One can only imagine how he would have intoned such scornful sentiments.
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