You Choose

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2002
Original album - Release
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Neil has himself noted that this song expresses the exact opposite philosophy from that of "Love Comes Quickly." That is, the earlier song maintains that love happens to people unwillingly, without their consent. It's not a matter of choice. "You Choose," by contrast, states matter-of-factly that people do choose to fall in love. As a result, those who fall in love must accept responsibility for the measure of pain and sorrow that almost inevitably comes with it. "Choosing to love is risking a lot.… You take a chance and see it through."

As contradictory as these two viewpoints seem to be, I don't believe they're illogical or inconsistent. Rather, they can be reconciled through the psychology of personal experience. When one is young and somewhat inexperienced in romance, love can and very often does come quickly and unexpectedly. That is, if you've never been in love before, it can happen to you before you realize it, without your having chosen it. It's only later, with age and experience, that one becomes emotionally and psychologically equipped actually to choose love—or not to choose it, as the case may be—recognizing its potential and early symptoms, and then consciously either resisting or embracing it. Accordingly, it was a young, comparatively "inexperienced" Neil who wrote the lyrics of "Love Comes Quickly," but an older, more experienced Neil who wrote "You Choose." Each song accurately reflects his own experience as well as that of countless others—speaking of whom, might also be an important factor. After all, the average age of the core PSB audience in 2002 for "You Choose" was undoubtedly somewhat older than that of the audience in 1986 for "Love Comes Quickly," a fact that may have influenced the respective songs as well.

Although the situation described in "You Choose" is one of losing in love because the other person didn't return that love, I can't help but think of the core message of the 1993 film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, in which death intercedes: "The pain now is part of the joy then. That's the deal." When you open yourself up to the great happiness of love, you also open yourself to great sorrow. You can't have one without the other. The best you can do is accept it and move forward.

As one of my email correspondents has pointed out to me, "You Choose" shares with the Nightlife track "Happiness Is an Option" the basic philosophy that everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own feelings. That is, you may not always be able to control what happens to you, but you can control how you personally deal with it. This song's slow, melancholy, but very pretty melody and arrangement (more or less a traditional rock ballad, dominated by guitar) serves as the perfect vehicle for such a serious, somber message.

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