Song of the Day, June 24: Can You Forgive Her? by Pet Shop Boys

PetShopForgiveToday’s song is a powerful look at romantic — and self — deception. After a stellar debut, Pet Shop Boys established themselves as masters  of synth-based dance pop, releasing two more fairly solid albums and a string of singles that were big in the UK and on the US dance chart. Their fourth album, Very, is almost as grand as the debut, a consistent, cohesive set of danceable, thought-provoking songs.

The opening track — and first single — kicks things off with a bang. A blast of synth and trumpet starts things off. The song is energetic, nearly bombastic, one of the most emphatic in the Boys’ catalog. Neil Tennant delivers one of his clearest, boldet vocals as well.  Ironically (one of their trademarks), the lyrics are more ambivalent. Featuring one of their many full-sentence titles (borrowed, in this case, from a Trollope novel), the song is told in a long narration, pausing occasionally for the dramatic chorus.

Told in an effective second person, it addresses a man whose relationship is in trouble, as the woman he is seeing clearly has doubts about him.

You’re in love, and it feels like shame
Because she’s gone and made a fool of you in public again
You’re in love, and it feels like pain
Because you know there’s too much truth in everything she claims

What’s more, it’s fairly clear that the complication has to do with a previous love.

It was love, and now you can’t pretend
You’ve forgotten all the promises of that first friend
It’s bad enough, she knows how you feel
But she’s not prepared to share you with the memory

That first friend is clearly male, making the song a powerful statement about the closet and the harm it does. Smart, literate, moving… and you can dance to it!

Enjoy this amazing song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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