Getting Away with It
by Electronic

Writers - Sumner/Marr/Tennant
First released - 1989
Original album - Electronic (Electronic)
Producer - Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr, Neil Tennant
Subsequent albums - Get the Message: The Best of Electronic
Other releases - single (UK #12, US #38)

Unlike "The Patience of a Saint," Chris wasn't involved in writing of this Electronic track—although, as Johnny Marr revealed more than 30 years later, he did contribute to the recording. More about that in a moment. A terrific 1989 hit single that predated Electronic's eponymous 1991 debut album (and didn't even appear on its first U.K. edition, but was added to the U.S. version and subsequent U.K. versions), "Getting Away with It" features Neil sharing background vocals as well as songwriting duties. (Bernard Sumner sings lead.) The song begs the question implied by its title: just what is it that the narrator has supposedly been "getting away with" all his life? The litany of activities described in the lyrics seems to boil down to the narrator thinking and doing things that only serve to hurt and torment himself.

This self-destructive tendency is most notably manifested in the refrain: "However I look, it's clear to see that I love you more than you love me." But he's not about to give up on it; after all, he has been "getting away with it," so why should he stop? He clearly derives even more pleasure than pain from his behavior. As long as he can keep getting away with it, he'll keep doing it. And, who knows? — Maybe eventually his love will be returned in full.

Neil has provided some fascinating background information: he and Sumner wrote the lyrics from the presumed perspective of former Smiths lead singer (and Marr's former writing partner) Morrissey, suggesting that he's been "getting away with" his "persona of being miserable" for years. (See "Miserablism" for another song with a similar background.) Marr has suggested that Neil actually had greater input into the lyrics than Sumner, which Neil has subsequently confirmed in interviews: "They had the track but they didn't have any words.… and I thought of 'getting away with it.'… My idea for the lyric of the song was that I was being Morrissey." Musically, it was Marr who composed the chorus, whereas Sumner composed the music of the verses and Neil pretty much did the arrangement. And, in a surprise revelation by Marr in 2021, it was none other than Chris Lowe who performed the synth bass-line and made important suggestions as to how it should "go," despite his not getting a co-writing credit on the song.


Officially released

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