The story behind It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys

Studying in a Catholic school can be a difficult test for young daredevils who do not want to behave humbly, as required of them by harsh mentors. Many pupils of such institutions until the end of their lives with hostility recall the harsh conditions under which they had to receive an education.

One such poor fellow was Neil Francis Tennant, lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys, who graduated from St. Cuthbert’s Catholic School in Newcastle upon Tyne. His memories of that time formed the basis of the song It’s a Sin (“It’s a sin”), which became the hallmark of the British pop group.

The history of creation and the meaning of the song It’s a Sin

Neil wrote the lyrics in 1982 while they were in the studio. Lowe played him a couple of chords that struck Neal as religious and reminded him of his high school days. Such memories did not improve Tennant’s already bad mood, but they became a source of inspiration for him, thanks to which, fifteen minutes later, the words of the song It’s a Sin were born.

A couple of years later, the band recorded a demo of the song, and in June 1987, It’s a Sin was released as the lead single from Actually. It became the second Pet Shop Boys song to top the UK chart. In addition, the track hit the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and triumphantly walked through the charts in many countries.

Many saw in the lyrics of the song a hint of unconventional love, because Neil Tennant did not hide belonging to sexual minorities. In an interview with Attitude magazine, speaking about the work of the group, he even stated:

I mean I’m gay and have always written songs from that position.

Although it wasn’t specifically about It’s a Sin, critics were quick to jump to conclusions.

Allegations of plagiarism

Shortly after the release of the single, British DJ Jonathan King accused the Pet Shop Boys of copying Cat Stevens’ Wild World song, which was popular in the early seventies, with the tune It’s a Sin.

He even released his own cover version of Wild World, arranged in the style of It’s a Sin. Members of the Pet Shop Boys sued him, won the case and donated the money they received to charity.

Clip It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys

The music video for “It’s a Sin” was directed by Derek Jarman. According to the plot of the video, which depicts the seven deadly sins, Tennant is arrested and tried by the Inquisition. In general, see for yourself.

Interesting Facts

  • At the end of It’s a Sin, the performer recites the Confiteor, a Catholic prayer of repentance.
  • It is said that Neil Tennant’s former teachers spoke very unflattering things about him after the release of the song.

It’s a Sin Lyrics

When I look back upon my life
it’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
no matter when or where or who
has one thing in common too

chorus:
It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

At school they taught me how to be
so pure in thought and word and death
They didn’t quite succeed
For everything I long to do
no matter when or where or who
has one thing in common too

Father forgive me
I tried not to do it
turned over a new leaf
then tore right through it
What ever you taught me
I didn’t believe it
Father you fought me
’cause I didn’t care
and I still don’t understand

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti vobis fratres quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

It’s a Sin Lyrics

When I look back at my life
I remember the constant feeling of shame
I’m constantly accused
‘Cause everything I want to do
It doesn’t matter when, where or with whom,
Connected to something

Chorus:
This, this, this, this is a sin
It is a sin
Everything I ever did
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve been
Wherever I’m going
It is a sin

At school I was taught to be
Chaste in thought, word and deed,
But they didn’t succeed at all.
‘Cause everything I want to do
It doesn’t matter when, where or with whom,
Connected to something

My father, forgive me
I tried not to
Turned a new page
Then broke right through her
Whatever you teach me
I didn’t believe in it
My father, you fought me
Because I was indifferent
And I still don’t understand

I confess before God Almighty and before you, brothers and sisters, that I have sinned a lot in thought, word, deed and failure to fulfill my duty: my fault, my fault, my great fault.

Song quote

Protests against Catholicism took many forms. Martin Luther nailed his objections to the cathedral door, while the Pet Shop Boys chose to express theirs in disco…

Richard Baskin

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