One-Way Street

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2017
Original album - Fundamental 2017 reissue Further Listening 2005-2007 bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Life is a one-way street, you know. That's the metaphor at the heart of this song, which was written by Neil and Chris in February 2005 and offered to Bananarama, but rejected. So the Boys held on to it until they finally released their demo in 2017 as a bonus track with the reissue of Fundamental.

Neil sings of "driving down a one-way street," expressing his apparent surprise that no one he meets along way truly seems to be "in command." After all, as he puts it, "there's no escape from fate," though he goes on to say, "I don't care—I still like to think I'm in control." Notice, however, the doubt implicit in those words: he likes to think he's in control. But, all doubts aside, he's glad to have met someone on his journey: the "you" to whom he's ostensibly singing ("I took a road that led me straight to you").

It's not really paradoxical if you think about it. "Fate" aside, we do have a good deal of control over the paths we take in life. We make choices that take us in a given direction, and a different choice would have taken us elsewhere. We do have free will. But that doesn't change the fact that our lives are all still one-way streets. We can never truly go back in the opposite direction; any attempt to do so is just another turn along the road as we drive on toward each and everyone's ultimate goal: the end of our lives. The narrator's focus, however, on another person, "you," demonstrates his recognition that one of the things, if not the thing, that makes it a road worth traveling are the people—and perhaps one very special person—we meet along the way.

Musically, one of the most interesting things about this contemplative midtempo track is its midde-eight instrumental break, one of Chris's patented extended one-chord sequences. Highlighted by a repetitive but distinctive low "burping" synth solo, this segment is repeated almost verbatim for the song's fadeout. Also worth noting is the great similarity of this track with "Twentieth Century," particularly with regard to their prominent bass-synth lines which, at least superficially, sound nearly identical. Could this account for the fact that only one of them—namely "Twentieth Century"—actually made it onto Fundamental?


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