One of the Crowd

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1989
Original album - Alternative
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Introspective 2001 reissue Further Listening 1988-1989 bonus disc
Other releases - b-side of single "It's Alright"

This track—one of the two b-sides for the "It's Alright" single—might have been subtitled "The Philosophy of Chris Lowe." The rather shy Chris has often stated that he feels little or no need for recognition and, in fact, would prefer not be recognized in public. (The hats and dark glasses that he usually wears in PSB photos and on stage are essentially his "public costume," allowing him to be relatively unrecognizable when he goes out without them on.) Further, he claims to have little use for the frequent perks and expectations of wealth and fame: "I don't want to meet the Royal Family just 'cause I've paid my tax." As it so happens, it was Neil who composed that line, doing so from Chris's perspective and, of course, with his approval. But Chris himself wrote most of the rest of the lyrics, which is rare for a PSB song.

As a "musical symbol" of this professed shyness, Chris sings-speaks the lyrics not in his true voice but rather highly distorted via a vocoder or some similar electronic device, sometimes rendered almost unintelligible. Thus he hides his voice in much the same way that he so often hides his eyes. Of special interest is Chris's opening sexual metaphor: "When I go fishing with my rod…." Not bad for a guy who doesn't write many lyrics. Meanwhile, Neil is left apparently with little to do but sing the title in the chorus.

It's worth speculating as to whether the line "I want to be part of the herd," above being a mere expression of a desire to fade cattle-like into the indistingishable mass, may have been inspired by Chris's known fandom of the Arsenal football (soccer) squad. "The Herd" is the name of an Arsenal "hooligan firm" (one of various "fan gangs" that sometimes clash violently with rival firms) with which the Boys' late friend and one-time "minder" Dainton Connell was affiliated.


List cross-references