Meaning the West End Girls song by the Pet Shop Boys

The composition West End Girls (“Girls from the West End”) was the first single from the Pet Shop Boys’ debut album, and this pancake, contrary to the well-known proverb, was a success. True, the first release was not the most successful, but after the re-release it conquered many leading charts, becoming an international hit and the hallmark of the band.

It is worth talking about it in detail, because a lot of interesting facts and conjectures are connected with the text and music of West End Girls.

History of the West End Girls song

Neil Tennant went into detail about how the West End Girls song was written:

We arrived at the studio and Bobby Oh was just starting the drums from Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Chris began to play along, and I played the chords. As for the lyrics of the song, the idea to write West End Girls came from The Message of Grandmaster Flash. I also remember visiting my cousin’s house in Nottingham one day and we were watching some gangster movie with James Cagney. When I was almost asleep, the lines “Sometimes it’s better to be dead / You have a gun in your hand and it’s pointed to your head” came to mind. I thought, “This is not bad,” and went to look for a pen.

1000 UK #1 Hits, Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh

Another source of inspiration for Tennant was the famous poem by T.S. Eliot “The Wasteland”:

What I like about her is the different voices, almost a collage. All these different voices and languages ​​connecting – I always found it very impressive. So in West End Girls different voices sound. The line “Just you wait till I get you home” is a quote.

Meaning of a West End Girls song

To this day, Pet Shop Boys fans scour the West End Girls song to this day, trying to figure out what each phrase means. Many music lovers believe that the text refers to the poor guys from the East End, who come to “shoot” in the crowded rich West End.

Indeed, in the text of West End Girls there are enough expressions that can lead to such thoughts, but Neil Tennant claimed that he did not think about anything like that when writing the words. On the other hand, he also did not explain the main idea of ​​West End Girls, limiting himself to a few comments about the history of the song.

In the words of the West End Girls composition, there are both vague allusions to certain events and phenomena, as well as outright allusions. For example, the line about Lake Geneva and the Finland Station undoubtedly reminds us of the route that the unforgettable Vladimir Ilyich followed before the memorable events of the early twentieth century. By the way, they were described in the book “To the Finland Station” by Edmund Wilson, with which Neil Tennant, who has a degree in history, is probably familiar.

A lot of controversy was caused by the line “Which do you choose: a hard of soft option?”. Its meaning can be interpreted in different ways. Some see it as a question of choosing between traditional and homosexual relationships. Others believe that this is a question about the assortment of a sex shop. Others believe that we are talking about drugs. The questions in the penultimate verse also resemble a conversation between a drug dealer and a client.

As you can see, the more you think about the meaning of the lyrics of the West End Girls song, the more difficult it is to understand what Neil Tennant meant, and he himself refrains from explaining. And he probably does the right thing. The more understatement, the more actively the fans will discuss the composition.

Recording and release of West End Girls song

Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and Bobby Orlando recorded West End Girls at New York’s Unique Studios. The parts of almost all the instruments were played by Bobby. He also acted as a producer.

The song was released as the first single from Please in April 1984. She enjoyed success in many nightclubs and even appeared on the charts in France and Belgium, but did not become an event in the music world. A year later, the Pet Shop Boys left Bobby Oh for Stephen Haig, signed with EMI, and recorded a new version of a West End Girls song that topped the Billboard Hot 100, the UK Singles Chart and the charts in other countries.

Later, West End Girls was awarded several awards and prizes, including the Brit Awards in the nomination “Best Single”. In 2005, the British Association of Composers and Songwriters named it the best song of the decade (1985 – 1994).

West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

The music video for West End Girls was directed by Eric Watson and Andy Morahan. In 1986, the video was nominated for the MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to A-Ha’s Take on Me video.

Interesting Facts

  • The first version of the song, produced by Bobby Orlando, referenced Stalin (“Who do you think you are, Joe Stalin?”).
  • There was a gay bar on Gerrard Street in London called The Dive Bar. In the lyrics of the song, the words “dive bar” are written in small letters, but it is possible that they are somehow connected with that institution.
  • At the beginning of the song, the words “Is that Sting?” (“Is that Sting?”). Perhaps this is a joke about producer Stephen Haig, who really looks like the famous British musician.

West End Girls Lyrics

Sometimes you’re better off dead
There’s a gun in your hand and it’s pointing at your head
You think you’re mad, too unstable
kicking in chairs and knocking down tables
in a restaurant in a West End town
Call the police! There’s a madman around
running down underground
to a dive bar in a West End town

chorus:
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
In a West End town, a dead end world
the East End boys and West End girls
West end girls

Too many shadows, whispering voices
faces on posters, too many choices
If? When? Why? What?
How much have you got?
Have you got it? Do you get it?
If so, how often?
Which do you choose:
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)

You got a heart of glass or a heart of stone?
Just you wait ’til I get you home
We’ve got no future, we’ve got no past
Here today, built to last
In every city, in every nation
from Lake Geneva to the Finland station
(How far have you been?)

West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys Lyrics

Sometimes it’s better to be dead
You’ve got a gun in your hand and it’s pointed to your head
You think you’re crazy, too changeable
Kicking chairs and flipping tables
At some restaurant in the West End
Call the police! Here is crazy!
He runs on the subway
Heading to a cheap West End bar

Chorus:
In the West End, the dead end of the world
East End boys and West End girls
In the West End, the dead end of the world
East End boys and West End girls
West End girls

Too many shadows, whispering voices
The faces on the posters, too wide a choice
If a? When? Why? What?
How many do you have?
You have? Do you accept?
If yes, how often?
As you prefer:
Soft or hard?
(How much do you need?)

Is your heart made of glass or stone?
Wait while I take you home
We have no future, we have no past
Here and today, until the end
In every city, in every country
From Lake Geneva to Finland Station
(How far have you been?)

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