Only the Wind

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1990
Original album - Behaviour
Producer - Harold Faltermeyer, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Neil has said that the wind in this song is a metaphor for domestic violence. As he has put it, "The man has hit the woman, and he's feeling remorse and guilt." On another occasion, however, Neil described the wind as a convenient excuse: a visitor to the couple's home has, upon approach, overheard the sounds of a violent row, but on asking about it is told that it was "only the wind" making the noise.

Still, I can't help but feel that the wind in this song may also symbolize AIDS, blowing through the lives of Neil, Chris, their friends, and society at large. Like the wind, it's pervasive and apparently can't be stopped. Like the wind, it stirs up things, "blowing litter all around." Like the winds of a terrible storm, or even just the winds of autumn, it's a harbinger of death. "They say it's getting worse," Neil sings ominously, "The trouble that it brings haunts us like a curse." But, despite the inescapable death and destruction, there's reason for hope. For one thing, although Neil says that his "nerves are all jangled," he insists that he will pull through the crisis. And he also notes that "a storm blows itself out": someday AIDS will come to an end.

Neil speaks two simple words at the end of the song—"I'm sorry"—which works effectively in his stated context of domestic violence. Then again, as one of my site visitors has pointed out, this could be viewed as an apology spoken by someone who has become infected with HIV as a result of having been unfaithful. It's possible he has even passed the virus on to his or her unsuspecting lover. Whatever the case, like so many PSB songs, "Only the Wind" works well on more than one level, which gives it much of its quiet power and appeal.


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