I Made My Excuses and Left

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2006
Original album - Fundamental
Producer - Trevor Horn
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

The lengthy opening passage of this track—which Neil has described as his favorite on the album—may seem mystifying until you understand its origin. According to the April 2005 issue of Literally, this song, written in early 2005, "was built around a melody and vocal line Chris sung into his Nokia mobile phone as he was walking home over Waterloo Bridge in the rain." Chris is quite pleased that he and Neil stayed with what he had originally sung: "So I have got perfect pitch, everyone, despite what the critics might say." Chris can still be heard there in the opening, the comparatively low quality of the original recording of his voice lending it a haunting air that contributes greatly to the almost palpable mood of sorrow that pervades the song. As for the words he's singing: "I'm all alone again—I'm all alone."

The song's lyrical theme seems relatively simple and straightforward compared to the two that precede it. Partly inspired by the true story of Cynthia Lennon happening upon John and Yoko sitting together and realizing immediately that her marriage was over, it's an achingly sad tale in which the narrator suddenly discovers that the person he (or she) loves is actually in love with someone else. Neil provides a succinct, brilliant description of the ensuing discomfort: "A silence filled the room, awkward as an elephant." Too proud to become a "supplicant" (that is, a beggar) for love, the narrator simply performs the act described in the title, making polite, face-saving excuses and leaving the other two to themselves. Together, Neil's lyrics and Chris's melody—both equally plaintive—make for an absolutely heartbreaking combination. In fact, Chris may have had a significant hand in composing the lyrics as well, as suggested in some comments he made about this song during the 2016 BBC Radio documentary about their career.

The final lines of the song (starting "So long ago…")—which, in his book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem, Neil describes as an "extra verse, added mainly for musical reasons," and which he doesn't include with the "lyric proper"—indicate that this narrative is a reminiscence of a painful event that happened quite some time previously. That pain, though lessened with time, can nevertheless recur upon contemplation of the event. The perplexing line "It all begins again, defying your excuses" might suggest that much of that pain stems from profound retrospective regret over not having done something very different in that situation. That and the fact that such excuses fool no one—least of all the person who makes them. On the other hand, one of my site visitors has described to me how, to his ears, that final line sounds somewhat hopeful, or at least determined: how after the end of a love affair you need to pick yourself up and try again. I can see how it could carry that meaning. Neil, in fact, has verified that he, too, regards it as a somewhat happy ending.



Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references