PSB songs with literary references

The Pet Shop Boys are an uncommonly "literary" group. So far I've found (or been alerted to) the following, but I'd be willing to bet there are plenty more. I'll add them as they come to my attention.

Please note that I've created a separate list for PSB songs that contain biblical allusions, so "literary" references from the Bible aren't included below.

Now, with that out of the way—

1. Being Boring

The title and spirit of this song were inspired by a line from a 1922 article written by Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of the great American author F. Scott Fitzgerald), "… she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring."

2. Betrayed

The lines "You said if you'd to choose between some money and a friend / You'd always choose the friend" adapt a famous statement by British author E.M. Forster (1879-1970): "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country" (from Forster's 1938 essay "What I Believe"). In addition, the lines "And still you need to justify yourself to others but not me / With that more-in-sorrow-than-anger routine" echo the words of Horatio in Shakespeare's Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 2) when he describes the ghost as having "A countenance more in sorrow than in anger."

3. Brick England

Neil's lyrics for this PSB collaboration with Jean-Michel Jarre were partly inspired by a passage from the 1854 Charles Dickens novel Hard Times.

4. Bright Young Things

This song was written for (but, as it turns out, wasn't actually used in) the 2003 film of the same name, which itself is loosely based on the Evelyn Waugh 1930 novel Vile Bodies. The title phrase does appear repeatedly in the novel, but otherwise the lyrics have little or nothing to do with the book. So the "literary reference" here is tenuous at best. (Thanks to my frequent site contributor Jeffrey Durst—a fan of Waugh as well as of the Pet Shop Boys—for confirming the "tenuousness" of this connection.)

5. Building a Wall

The line "More work for the undertaker means there's less for me" was inspired by the title of the 1948 novel More Work for the Undertaker by British author Margery Allingham. There's also a spoken bit where Neil refers to "Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea." The twentieth-century British poet (and poet laureate) John Betjeman's poem "Trebetherick" includes the exact same line, raising the spectre of a direct connection. Neil, however, has suggested that this apparent allusion is more or less coincidental, describing it as one of those "typical experiences of a British picnic which Betjeman will have experienced, too." While it's quite possible Neil may have been unconsciously influenced by the Betjeman poem, it's also possible that the poem and the song simply draw upon the same common British expression.

6. Can You Forgive Her?

The title is borrowed from an 1864 novel by the British author Anthony Trollope.

7. Casanova in Hell

Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) wrote his famous (and infamous) Memoirs in his old age, as described by the Pet Shop Boys in this song, though they almost certainly take some liberties with the details. The song itself, however, was more immediately inspired by another literary work, the 1918 novella Casanovas Heimfahr (titled in translation as either Casanova's Homecoming or Casanova's Return to Venice) by the Viennese writer Arthur Schnitzler.

8. The Dead Can Dance

Inspired by the 2010 book The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin by U.S. academic Stephen F. Cohen, about how Soviet prisoners sent to gulags during the Stalin and Khrushchev eras later returned to their homes and families as if "from the dead."

9. Decadence

Neil and Chris had been asked to write the title song for a 1994 film based on the 1981 play of this name by the British playwright, director, and actor Steven Berkoff. As noted in Neil's 2018 book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem, they decided against submitting the song they had written after seeing a rough cut of the film, but nevertheless opted to use it as a single b-side.

10. Delusions of Grandeur

In the booklet that accompanies the 2001 reissue of Bilingual, Neil notes that this song was inspired by the novel Hadrian VII by the relatively obscure late nineteenth/early twentieth-century British author Frederick William Rolfe, alias Baron Corvo. He also states that the "ring the bells" portion was inspired by the poem "A Sane Revolution" by a far better-known British author, D.H. Lawrence. The poem concludes with the line "Let's make a revolution for fun!"

11. Did You See Me Coming?

The line "You don't have to be in Who's Who to know what's what" is borrowed (unwittingly, although Neil has confessed upfront his conviction that the line wasn't original with him) from the title of a 1979 book by the American writer and humorist Sam Levenson (1911-1980). Another line, "Just to thyself be true," echoes the famous advice of Polonius to his son Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "To thine own self be true."

12. Discoteca

The reference to "where angels fear to tread" may be a familiar metaphor, even a cliché, but it originated with the brilliant British neo-classical poet and satirist Alexander Pope (1688-1744), who wrote, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" in his 1711 work An Essay on Criticism. It also served as the title of a 1905 novel by the great British author E.M. Forster (1879-1970).

13. DJ Culture

The line "And I, my lord—may I say nothing?" is a slight rearrangement of the words actually spoken by Oscar Wilde immediately after he was sentenced in 1895 to two years of hard labor: "And I? May I say nothing, my lord?" Despite Wilde's plea, the judge adjourned the court. Further, the words "No feast days or fast days or days of abstinence intrude" echo a line from British author Graham Greene's 1940 novel The Power and the Glory, in which it is said of the main character, a fugitive alcoholic Roman Catholic priest, "The years behind him were littered with similar surrenders—feast days and fast days and days of abstinence had been the first to go…."

14. Don Juan

The legend of the amoral Spanish nobleman received its earliest known literary treatment more than 350 years ago in a drama written by Gabriel Tellez, using the pseudonym Tirso de Molina. In subsequent centuries artists as diverse as Molière, Mozart, Shadwell, Byron, Browning, and Shaw have told his tale in one way or another. So the Pet Shop Boys put themselves in very good company indeed when they decided to use him as a metaphor for Adolf Hitler. In an additional literary connection, Neil has stated that he tried to compose the lyrics somewhat in the style of the 1922 abstract poetic sequence Façade, written by the British poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964).

15. Dreaming of the Queen

The chorus ("There are no more lovers left alive") was inspired by the title of the 1964 novel Only Lovers Left Alive by British author Dave Wallis.

16. Gin and Jag

The scholarly consensus seems to be that the line "Youth is wasted on the young" was coined by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), although the precise source seems uncertain and there's some disagreement as to whether it actually originated with Shaw. Another line in the song, "Boredom deplores a vacuum," is a takeoff on the ancient dictum "Nature abhors a vacuum," attributed to the Greek philospher-scientist Aristotle (384-322 BC).

17. Happiness Is an Option

When Neil speaks the line "This is neither old nor new," he is directly quoting the English translation of the title of a poem by the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966).

18. Hoping for a Miracle

Neil has said, "Without being too pretentious, the first line, 'On Waterloo Bridge you got lost in the fog,' sort of refers to The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot." Far more questionable (and by no means acknowledged by Neil) is that the words "A child of the sun" may allude to an ancient myth explaining the origin of sexual orientation as articulated by the Greek philospher Plato in his Symposium, written circa 380 B.C. According to this myth, prehistoric human beings were divided into three genders: androgynes (Children of the Moon), male (Children of the Sun), and female (Children of the Earth). But because of their arrogance and impiety, the gods punished them by splitting them all in two, dooming them perpetually to seek their former "other half." The former Children of the Sun became homosexual men ("male halves" searching for their other "male halves"); the former Children of the Earth became lesbians ("female halves" searching for their other "female halves'); and the former Children of the Moon became heterosexuals ("male halves" and "female halves" searching for each other). If Neil is indeed drawing from Plato's Symposium for this reference, could the "child of the sun" in this song be a gay man? Nothing that Neil has said about this song would suggest as much, but it's nevertheless probably worth noting.

19. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)

The line "We're lying in the gutter, but we're looking at the stars" is a paraphrase of Oscar Wilde, who actually wrote, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" in his 1892 play Lady Windermere's Fan.

20. If There Was Love

This song, written by Neil and Chris for Liza Minnelli's Results album, concludes with Liza reading William Shakespeare's Sonnet 94 in its entirety.

21. I'm Not Scared

The line "Take these dogs away from me…" is, according to Neil, a "quote, or a misquote" from the poem "Senex" by the twentieth-century British poet John Betjeman.

22. In the Night

The lyrics were inspired by the 1981 book Paris in the Third Reich: A History of the German Occupation, 1940-1944 by historian David Pryce-Jones.

23. Inside a Dream

The song's recurring lines—

The Land of Dreams is better far
Above the light of the Morning Star

—are quoted directly from the conclusion of the short 1803 poem "The Land of Dreams" by the English romantic poet William Blake (1757-1827).

24. Integral

This song was partly inspired by the 1921 science-fiction novel We by the Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), although Neil hadn't actually read the book; he had merely thumbed through it. The novel's dystopian plot concerns the inhabitants of a totalitarian, highly bureaucratic, and efficiency-obsessed "One State" that deems itself "perfect" and "immaculate." Their lives are dedicated to the construction of a spaceship called The Integral, designed solely to achieve the goals of the One State.

25. Into Thin Air

The title phrase—like so many others in the English language—is generally believed to have originated with William Shakespeare, who uses it in Act IV, Scene 1 of The Tempest, in lines spoken by the play's protagonist, the magician Prospero.

26. It Couldn't Happen Here

A slight variation on It Can't Happen Here, the title of a 1935 novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

27. It Must Be Obvious

Neil has stated that the line "I didn't intend to interrupt your own shadowplay" is a reference to Shadow Play, a dramatic work by Noël Coward.

Somewhat more questionable—but still a possible literary reference—is the line "Oh no! It should be poetry, not prose," which echoes an exchange between two characters in the French playwright Molière's 1670 comedy Le bourgeois gentilhomme (The Middle-Class Aristocrat). The bourgeois title character, M. Jourdain, asks a philosopher for help in composing a note to woo an aristocratic lady whom he loves. The philosopher first suggests writing the note in poetry, but this is rejected by Jourdain. When the philosopher responds that they'll then have to write in prose, Jourdain rejects that as well, to which the philosopher counters that it has to be one or the other. The rather ignorant Jourdain is quite taken aback by having only two choices. That both this exchange and the PSB song concern love and rather clueless characters heightens the possible literary connection. On the other hand, it could easily be a mere coincidence. Considering the natural linguistic dichotomy between poetry and prose—in English as well as in French and countless other languages—knowledge of Molière's play is hardly a necessary antecedent to this song.

28. Jack the Lad

The line "To feast with panthers every night" is again adapted from Oscar Wilde, who in his 1897 apologia De Profundis wrote of his scandalous life, "It was like feasting with panthers. The danger was half the excitement."

29. Jealousy

The "Extended Version" of this song opens and closes with Neil's recitation of a brief quotation from one of world literature's greatest works focusing on jealousy, Shakespeare's Othello.

Incidentally, in addition to quoting him in "Jealousy" and "If There Was Love" (noted above), the Boys also mention Shakespeare in the "New Version" of "Discoteca." I've put that reference in my list of people mentioned by name in PSB songs, but it's certainly worth mentioning here as well.

30. King of Rome

The lyric's reference to Manderley stems from Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel Rebecca, where it serves as the name of the house at the heart of the story. Apparently the song originally included additional allusions to the novel, but Neil decided to cut back on them in its final version. In addition, we shouldn't overlook a possible "allusion by extension" to the famed 1892 poem "Mandalay" (an alternate spelling of Manderley) by the British author Rudyard Kipling—a work that, despite its somewhat distracting use of what is meant to pass for dialect, conveys a profound sense of romantic longing, as the PSB song does.

31. Living in the Past

It includes the phrase "heart of stone," a common cliché in English that can trace its origins back to Homer's Odyssey: "Thy heart is even harder than stone." The fact that it has become a cliché, however, makes its actual status as a "literary reference" a bit questionable.

32. The Lost Room

This song was inspired by the 1906 novel Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törless (The Confusions of Young Törless) by the Austrian author Robert Musil. Also, the words "never shall be slaves" used at one point in "The Lost Room" are undoubtedly derived from the line "Britons never, never, shall be slaves" in the chorus of the patriotic British song "Rule, Britannia!" the lyrics of which come from a 1740 poem of the same title by the Scottish poet James Thomson, which was then set to music in that same year by English composer Thomas Arne. Arne, however, adjusted some of the words for the sake of his melody; whereas Thomson wrote simply "Britons never will be slaves," Arne repeated the word "never" each time that line appears in the song and changed the word "will" to the more emphatic "shall."

33. Love Came Down at Christmas

The lyrics of this brief (24-second) song, which accompanied the Pet Shop Boys 2021 digital Christmas card, quote from the first three lines of the English poet Christina Rossetti's 1885 poem with the same title.

34. Love etc.

It seems very likely that the title of the song (without the comma) was borrowed from the title (with the comma) of British author Julian Barnes's 2000 novel Love, etc.

35. Love Is a Bourgeois Construct

This song was inspired by the 1988 novel Nice Work by British author David Lodge. Like much of Lodge's other writings, Nice Work satirizes academia (among other things). One exchange in the novel proved especially influential:

"I love you," he says, kissing her throat, stroking her breasts, tracing the curve of her hip.
"No, you don't, Vic."
"I've been in love with you for weeks."
"There's no such thing," she says. "It's a rhetorical device. It's a bourgeois fallacy."
"Haven't you ever been in love, then?"
"When I was younger," she says, "I allowed myself to be constructed by the discourse of romantic love for a while, yes."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"We aren't essences, Vic. We aren't unique individual essences existing prior to language. There is only language."

36. Love Is the Law

Neil has stated that this song was inspired by his reading a "massive biography about Oscar Wilde that came out just before lockdown. Oscar Wilde, after he comes out of prison, ends up in Nice, in the south of France, and he’s sitting beside the Promenade des Anglais, watching all the sexual transactions taking place." Although Neil doesn't identify this biography by title or author, it's very likely Oscar Wilde: A Life by Matthew Sturgis, published in 2018, which at more than 800 pages is certainly rather "massive."

37. Luna Park

Although it was not the first PSB song to make this particular literary reference (see "The Sound of the Atom Splitting," below), it does come first alphabetically. The "circuses and bread" reference here inverts the classic phrase "bread and circuses," coined nearly 2,000 years ago by the ancient Roman satirist Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenalis), who wrote in the late first and early second century. Juvenal's original Latin phrase was "panem et circenses," which more literally translates as "bread and games." It refers, of course, to the means by which governments—then and now—strive to keep the masses in ignorant contentment by meeting their basest needs and distracting them with crude entertainments. In addition, the song itself was partly inspired by the 1924 essay "An Hour at the Amusement Park" by the Austrian-Jewish author Joseph Roth, and its reference to the "wind across the moon" stems from the 1944 novel The Wind on the Moon by Welsh-Scottish author Eric Linkater.

38. Memory of the Future

The recurring line "I keep tasting that sweet madeleine" is a metaphorical reference to a famous incident in French novelist Marcel Proust's monumental work À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), published in several parts from 1913 to 1927. Proust's adult narrator eats a madeleine—a type of small French sponge cake—which triggers an "involuntary memory" of a similar childhood experience that then introduces part of the ensuing story. The title of the PSB song itself, "Memory of the Future," is almost certainly meant to contrast with Remembrance of Things Past, a very common (though now academically disfavored) alternate translation of the title of Proust's work.

39. My October Symphony

Neil has stated that this song was partly inspired by Ian MacDonald's 1989 book The New Shostakovich. He also once told an interviewer for The New York Times that the controversial 1979 book Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shotakovich by Solomon Volkov similarly provided inspiration.

40. No Time for Tears

The song's "one for all and all for one" cliché, borrowed from the subtitles of Battleship Potemkin, originated with The Three Musketeers, written in 1844 by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas. More accurately, the Dumas original has it the other way around: "Tous pour un, un pour tous" ("All for one, one for all"). The line recurs in "For Freedom," the final track of the Boys' Potemkin score, but I'll give "No Time for Tears" the credit since it appears there first.

41. Nothing Has Been Proved

Long before the Boys were asked to write the theme song for the film Scandal, about the Profumo Affair, Neil had written a song inspired by his reading of the 1964 book The Trial of Stephen Ward by Ludovic Kennedy. Having unearthed this old song, he and Chris modified and completed it to create "Nothing Has Been Proved."

42. Odd Man Out

The line "Cut me and I'll bleed" draws an implicit parallel between the narrator of this song, a homosexual in 1961, and the Jewish moneylender Shylock in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, who says in Act III, Scene i, "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" The parallel, of course, is that these two speakers both belong to historically despised and oppressed minorities.

43. One-Way Street

The title of this song was borrowed from that a 1928 book by the German-Jewish philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin (1882-1940). The original German title is Einbahnstraße, which translates One-Way Street. Only the title, however, provided inspiration; Neil concedes that he's never read the book itself.

44. Only in His Death

This segment of A Man from the Future mentions Oscar Wilde and includes a stanza of his 1897 poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol." It also mentions both the British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the 1818 novel Frankenstein written by Shelley's wife, Mary Shelley.

45. Oppressive (The Best Gay Possible)

Although this particular literary reference didn't come from Neil's (or Chris's) pen, it does appear in a legitimate PSB track built around excerpts from a February 2014 speech by Irish drag artist Panti Bliss (Rory O'Neill), who describes the "neat Orwellian trick" by which homophobic people suggest that gay people themselves are not the best arbiters of what is homophobic and oppressive to them. The word Orwellian—derived of course from the name of the twentieth-century British author George Orwell (1903-1950), best known for his novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four—refers to concepts and strategies like those used by the totalitarian regimes appearing in those works. Panti uses it to refer to something he views as all too similar to the revisionist linguistic distortions epitomized by "newspeak" and "doublethink" in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

46. Party in the Blitz

The title and lyrics are inspired by the 2003 memoir Party in the Blitz (translated into English in 2005 from the original German Party im Blitz; Die englischen Jahre) by the Nobel Prize-winning Bulgarian-born expatriate author Elias Canetti, who settled in England in 1938 but who continued to write in German for his entire literary career.

47. The Performance of My Life

The line "A vision of love revealed in sleep" has a double source. First, it's the title of a prose poem written in 1870 by the British Pre-Raphaelite artist and author Simeon Solomon. It's also the title of a 1989 drama based on Solomon's life by the modern British playwright Neil Bartlett.

48. Physical Jerks

The title of this segment of the Boys' ballet The Most Incredible Thing, during which the villain Karl engages in an exercise routine with his followers, is very likely drawn from George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eight-Four. Orwell employs it as a "Newspeak" term that refers to the daily exercise regime prescribed by the totalitarian state. In this way Karl himself is implicitly associated with a totalitarian mindset. (There is evidence that the phrase "physical jerks" actually predates Orwell's novel, but that by no means refutes the likelihood that Orwell nevertheless provided the inspiration for its use in the ballet.)

49. A Red Letter Day

One line in this song refers clearly yet somewhat cryptically to Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot.

50. The Resurrectionist

Inspired by Sarah Wise's 2004 book The Italian Boy: Murder and Graverobbing in 1830s London, which is based on a factual criminal case of that period.

51. The Schlager Hit Parade

The lines "Laughter and forgetting / whatever was betrayed / what happened never happened" is undoubtedly an allusion to the 1979 novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by exiled Czech author Milan Kundera (1929-2023). A prominent theme in this novel is the way that some political regimes go to great lengths to rewrite history, even erasing certain individuals from the official account of their country, thus presenting a doctored view of history.

52. Searching for the Face of Jesus

Many of the details in this song were taken from the 1999 book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by U.S. author and critic Peter Guralnick.

53. She's So Eclectic

A perhaps questionable inclusion since this is an unreleased song that we know only by some of Neil's lyrics that have come to light. But those lyrics do name-drop a pair of writers: the French existentialist philosopher, playwright, and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre and the American popular (some might unkindly say "hack") novelist Harold Robbins.

54. Silver Age

Neil has noted that this song was inspired by Russian art and literature of the period just before the First World War, which has often been described as Russia's "Silver Age" of the arts. In particular, he has cited the work of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)—who has come to be known as "The Soul of the Silver Age"—and her poem "July 1914" (published in 1917) as a key inspiration.

55. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show

Neil draws upon French author Marcel Proust (1971-1922), the fourth volume (1921) of whose great work À la recherche du temps perdu (variously translated into English as Remembrance of Things Past and In Search of Lost Time) is titled Sodome et Gomorrhe (translated either as Sodom and Gomorrah or as Cities of the Plain). And the lyrics contain another reference to Alexander Pope's "where angels fear to tread," described in the entry above for "Discoteca."

56. The Sound of the Atom Splitting

This song preceded "Luna Park" by roughly 18 years with its "bread and circuses" reference, courtesy of Juvenal.

57. This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave

Neil has acknowledged that the line "History, someone had blundered" is a meaningful echo of the second stanza of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous, fatalistic, and quite historical 1854 poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade":

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
  Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

It's worth noting that "Someone had blundered" is also used—this time repeatedly, again as a knowing echo of Tennyson—in Virginia Woolf's 1927 novel To the Lighthouse. An altogether different literary allusion occurs with the sampled Russian at the end of the track, which comes from a speech made in 1936 by the Soviet state prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky. Part of what he's saying (which can be translated "Crush this vermin!") is a paraphrase of the great French writer Voltaire's famous phrase "Écrasez l'infâme!" ("Crush the infamy!"), used often in his essays and letters. True, it's a "second-hand" literary reference, but it's good enough for me.

58. To Step Aside

The title is borrowed from a 1939 collection of short stories by Noël Coward.

59. Twenty-something

The lyrics include the line "And so to bed," which almost sounds like a throwaway until you realize that it's a literary cliché that first gained familiarity from its repeated use by Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), English public official and member of Parliament. Pepys is best known today for having kept from 1660 to 1669 what became one of the most famous diaries in world history. "And so to bed" is often the last thing he would write for any given day's entry.

60. Up Against It

Not only is the title borrowed from that of an unfinished screenplay by British playwright Joe Orton, but the lyrics make passing reference to another twentieth-century British playright, Harold Pinter.

61. Up and Down

The lyric's phrase "a cloud in trousers" is taken from the title of a 1915 poem by the early twentieth-century Russian poet and playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky. With regard to the subject matter of the song, it's a telling choice in that Mayakovsky's poem is written from the perspective of a spurned lover, corresponding to the situation in which the song's narrator finds himself.

62. The Way Through the Woods

In 2012 the Pet Shop Boys set to music this 1910 poem by the British author Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

63. West End Girls

The line "From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station" refers not only to Lenin's journey from exile back to Russia at the start of the Russian Revolution but also to the book To the Finland Station, a 1940 study of the history of European socialism by the great American literary critic and cultural historian Edmund Wilson. Neil has also cited T.S. Eliot's great 1922 poem The Wasteland, one of the most important works of 20th-century literature, as a significant influence on this song. In addition, the lyrics include a reference to "a heart of stone," mentioned above for the song "Living in the Past."

64. What Have I Done to Deserve This?

The oft-repeated title line echoes, with only a slight variation, the closing words of Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin: "What have I done to deserve all this?" But it's also the English translation of the title of a 1984 Spanish film ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto! so whether one or the other, both, or neither of these sources (after all, the phrase is something of a cliché in its own right) inspired the song's title will remain uncertain unless Neil weighs in on it at some point.

65. Wiedersehen

Inspired by the Jewish Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), who fled his native country rather than face persecution by the Nazis. Neil had recently read a biography of Zweig—The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2014) by U.S. author George Prochnik—thereby giving rise to the song.

66. Will-o-the-wisp

Inspired by an incident described by Anglo-American author Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) in his diaries, when he happened to see from a distance a man with whom he had had a relationship before the Second World War.

67. Yesterday, When I Was Mad

There's some uncertainty about this one. The opening exclamation, "Darling, you were wonderful!" may be taken from a reference in The Orton Diaries by Joe Orton—which Neil is known to have bought and read while on tour in 1989—or perhaps from the title of a 1990 play by Derek Lomas, Darlings, You Were Wonderful, or maybe from the title of a 1977 memoir collection (yes, Darling, You Were Wonderful) by Harvey Sabinson. As it turns out, "Darling, you were wonderful" is apparently something of a theatre-world cliché, often spoken casually by directors and fellow actors who wish to comment favorably on someone's performance—whether they truly mean it or not. Therefore it's quite possible, even likely, that someone actually did say those words to Neil regarding their Performance show, inspiring him to use them in this song. So while it may be a "literary reference," that's not necessarily the case. But we can safely call it a "literary connection" in any event.

68. Young Offender

The title was inspired by that of a 1967 book on the subject of juvenile delinquency, The Young Offender, by British psychiatrist/author Donald J. West. It happened to catch Neil's eye in a used bookstore.

69. Your Funny Uncle

Neil has stated that he borrowed the title from a line in the John Betjeman poem "Indoor Games Near Newbury": "And your funny uncle saying/'Choose your partners for a foxtrot'."

And possibly

70. Always

One of my site visitors has observed that this song may contain conscious allusions to T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland—as noted above (#52), already an acknowledged influence on "West End Girls." One line from "Always," namely "The future's not so bleak in this wasteland," might refer directly to it, while its recurring assurance that "Summer comes" may vaguely echo (perhaps by contrast) the opening lines of Eliot's poem, which starts with the famous words "April is the cruellest month," followed a few lines later by "Summer surprised us." Finally, the opening stanza of "Always"—

Summer sands have lost their charm
Let 'em go
Autumn winds will do no harm
Let 'em blow

—may be inspired by lines from The Wasteland that also mention sands and winds. Then again, "sand" and "wind" aren't exactly unusual words one might find in any description of a desert or other wasteland. So the evidence is, at best, highly debatable. But it's an intriguing possibility nonetheless, especially in light of the fact that the two works do, after all, seem to share a pervasive sense of world-weariness.

71. One and One Make Five

Another site visitor suggested the intriguing idea that this song, which deals with (among other things) the way rumors can cause hurt and concern in a relationship, may have been partly inspired by the 1852 Hans Christian Andersen tale "Det er ganske vist" ("It's Quite True!"). This very brief story begins with a hen who plucks out one of her feathers. Other barnyard animals start gossiping about it. With each telling the story becomes a little more exaggerated. By the time it gets back to the original hen, the one plucked feather has inflated into five completely denuded hens. One feather, thanks to rumor, becoming five hens. Hmmm— It's probably just a coincidence. But considering that the Boys' 2011 ballet The Most Incredible Thing is based on an Andersen fairy tale, it may be worth noting.

72. We All Feel Better in the Dark

Not long after this song debuted, Chris stated that this song was partly inspired by a tape he had purchased titled The Secrets of Sexual Attraction. Years later, in the commentary track for the DVD release of Performance, he said it was "a book or cassette." Perhaps the tape was an audio edition of a book. If so, the most likely candidate is the 1976 book Love's Mysteries: The Secrets of Sexual Attraction by Glenn Wilson and David Nias (which has also been published under other titles, such as Love's Mysteries: The Psychology of Sexual Attraction and The Mystery of Love: How the Science of Sexual Attraction Can Work for You; the year of publication also varies by edition).

Also, while it's not really a literary "reference," Neil has stated that the lyrics to their song "Miracles" were inspired by his having purchased in a secondhand bookstore an anthology of works by "Elizabethan metaphysical poets," of whom John Donne (c. 1571-1631) is widely regarded as the greatest. As Neil put it, "As in metaphysical poetry, the analogies are all of the natural world: dogs, flowers, etc."