Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1986
Original album - Please
Producer - Stephen Hague
Subsequent albums - Alternative, Very 2001 reissue Further Listening 1992-1994 bonus disc
Other releases - bonus track for the single "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"
In this somber track, the last one written for the album, Neil and Chris assert that the underlying cause of violence lies in the pervasive aimlessness in the lives of its perpetrators, who long for "anything to give their lives some meaning." Men are identified as the primary perpetrators of violence (it's a statistical fact) who justify their deeds to their uncomprehending wives and mothers as "self-defense." The core of song, of course, is the chorus: "Violence breeds violence." It's the proverbial vicious circle, which will never end until someone makes the conscious decision not to return violence for violence, regardless of any perceived need for defense.
The lyrics were reportedly inspired at least in part by the ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland. It has also been suggested (by writer Michael Cowton, among others) that Neil's roots in the suburbs of Newcastle, with his adolescence and early adulthood coinciding with the heyday of the skinhead subculture in those parts, may also have contributed to this song as well as to "Suburbia." While Neil himself was very fortunately never the victim of physical attacks, he apparently personally knew others who weren't so lucky. Chris has also alluded to having been chased by toughs in his own youth. So the sentiment of this song could be quite close to their hearts.
Nearly a decade later the Boys would re-release this song (as a bonus track on the "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing" CD single) in its popular Haçienda remix, named for a well-known club in Manchester, England.
- "Violence breeds violence" – The condemnation of violence as a self-defeating strategy is an ancient one, reflected (to take just one famous example) in Jesus's teaching, "Ye have heard… 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, … whosoever shall smite thee on thy right chek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:38-39 abridged, King James Version). The origin of the precise phrase "violence breeds violence" is difficult to pin down, though it certainly precedes the Pet Shop Boys. The earliest use of that exact phrase that I've found so far comes from Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi (1869-1948), though I wouldn't be at all surprised to find much earlier uses as well.
- Available on Please
- Album Version (4:29)
Bob Kraushaar and Pete Gleadall
- Available on Alternative and on the Further Listening bonus disc with the Very reissue
- Haçienda Version (4:58)
Official but unreleased
- Mixer: Bob Kraushaar and Pete Gleadall
- Extended Haçienda Version (aka "12-inch Master") (7:02)
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