For All of Us

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2001
Original album - Closer to Heaven (various artists)
Producer - Craig Armstrong and Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Nightlife 2017 reissue Further Listening 1996-2000 bonus disc (PSB)
Other releases - (none)

Demo versions with Neil's vocals of this pretty, somber ballad from the Pet Shop Boys' stage musical Closer to Heaven have been circulating unofficially for years, and on occasion one or more of those demos have been made officially available for listening purposes on the official PSB website. (The 2017 reissue of the album Nightlife finally grants CD-release to one of them, included among its bonus tracks.) The demos feature him singing in his highest non-falsetto register, pushing his natural vocal range to the edge, lending the track a distinct air of emotional frailty.

Neil has stated that the lyrics went through three different versions. Earlier lyrics reflected in the Boys' demos seem much more personal, with Neil emphasizing the fact that, just because someone is rich and famous doesn't mean that they must lead a "charmed life with … no pain or strife." Rather, they face the same personal trials and tribulations as the rest of us; in fact, those difficulties may even be compounded by their status as public figures. Given their apparently (and intensely) personal nature, it's not surprising that Neil should repeatedly rewrite the lyrics: first from one demo to the next, and then finally, even more drastically, to fit the context of the musical.

Those earlier pre-Closer lyrics are in some ways so emotionally raw that you can't help but feel the great sense of pain that Neil (or at least his lyrical persona, since it's always questionable to read what a writer writes as being necessarily autobiographical) expresses in describing his great sorrow and regret regarding the fragility of love. But all known versions of the lyrics share that common thread of bemoaning the accompanying sense of loss, most likely—and, in the case of the musical, certainly—in the wake of death. By extension, they express grief for the decline of love in society overall. The narrator seems resigned and more than a little bitter. But in expressing his feelings, he implicitly conveys his hopes not only for himself but for the world in general, thereby transcending mere solipsism in the face of terrible disappointment.

For more information about this song in the context of the musical, please see the separate entry for it in my Closer to Heaven section.


Officially released

PSB renditions

Paul Keating (as "Straight Dave") rendition for Closer to Heaven

List cross-references