You've Got to Start Somewhere

Writers - Tennant/Lowe

This upbeat, uptempo, nearly anthemic song (so far officially unreleased) was apparently deleted from their stage musical Closer to Heaven to help shorten it. The lyrics encourage listeners to go ahead and take that first step to—whatever. The text is generalized enough that it could be applied to virtually any situation in which a person needs to take some sort of action but may lack the strength, courage, or independence to begin. In this sense, it's similar to "Shout" by Tears for Fears, which is also generalized. Orzabal and Smith were telling people to stand up and shout about whatever it is that disturbs them, not to take it lying down.

That said, I strongly feel that the specific action that Neil and Chris have in mind here is coming out. In other words, this song may be most directly addressed to closeted gay people—or maybe, within the context of the musical, one closeted gay person in particular. And when you consider the fact that the lyrics posit the listener among "kids," it's likely directed to a closeted young gay person. Take, for instance, the lines "Deep inside, there's nowhere to hide. You've got to fight." And "You've been refused, and so you're confused—you want to hide." The recurrence of "hiding" references definitely suggests the closet. Neil (or, perhaps more accurately, the character in the musical who was to sing this song) even makes matters much more personal when he sings, "I've been there, too, and all I could do was act like a jerk. Now I've begun to see what I've done." (In light of these words, I suspect the song was originally meant to be sung either by Vic to Dave or by Dave to Lee.) He assures his listeners that they'll make mistakes and have heartaches along the way, but that's OK—so it goes for everyone.

As in "A Red Letter Day," the word "gay" is mentioned nowhere in the lyrics, and likewise the song lends itself to a wide range of situations. Nevertheless, "You've Got to Start Somewhere" seems to be one of Tennant-Lowe's most "activist-oriented" songs to date, even if it was presumably written for the stage.

More than a decade after recording this demo, Chris and Neil decided to appropriate its underlying bass synth line (or at least one extremely similar to it) for their 2011 ballet The Most Incredible Thing, where it can be heard in portions of "The Competition," "The Winner," and "The Wedding." Let's hope, however, that this doesn't preclude their ever completing and releasing this superb song, the leaked demo of which sounds as complete and as high in quality as many officially released tracks.

List cross-references