Writers - Neil Young
Unreleased (2002)

This, in my mind, is the Holy Grail of unreleased cover songs recorded by the Pet Shop Boys—the one that I most want them to officially release in a studio rendition.

Neil Young wrote this song for the 1994 film Philadelphia, which was the first big-budget, big-name, mainstream Hollywood movie that focused on the subject of AIDS. (About time, eh?) The Pet Shop Boys' very own Neil (Tennant, that is) subsequently described it (in Issue 19 of the the PSB Fan Club publication Literally) as "one of the top five songs of the nineties." The Boys sometimes added it to their setlist of their 2002 concert tour, performing it as part of their encore, and they've performed it live on television on at least one occasion (and probably two, if I remember correctly). They very likely have also recorded it in the studio for possible release, perhaps as a bonus track on a future single. In the meantime, however, they made an excellent live recording of it available for listening at one time on their official website.

While the combination of Neil Young and the Pet Shop Boys may seem unlikely, it really isn't when you consider the "rock ballad" format of the Release tour and Young's marvelous lyrics told from the viewpoint of someone stricken by the disease: "City of brotherly love, place that I call home, don't turn your back on me.… I won't be ashamed of love." It's profoundly moving, every bit the equal of Bruce Springsteen's better-known Oscar-winning song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the same film. By evoking the literal meaning (from Greek, "brotherly love") of the term philadelphia, Young underscores the bitter irony of the terrible ways in which people with AIDS have long been treated in the U.S. and, in fact, much of the world. And the Pet Shop Boys give it a gorgeous, even reverential treatment (almost hymn-like), with Neil's voice at times sounding eerily like that of the other Neil—Young, that is.

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