Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pet Shop Boys, Its a Sin

I heard this on the radio it has been over 20 years. Now we have youtube. There are two videos out, The original (for those of you like me old enough to remember):



and the new version by famish:


Here are the lyrics:
"It's A Sin"

(Twenty seconds and counting...
T minus fifteen seconds, guidance is okay)
??
When I look back upon my life
It's always with a sense of shame
I've always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to
It's a sin

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn't quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to
It's a sin

Father, forgive me, I tried not to do it
Turned over a new leaf, then tore right through it
Whatever you taught me, I didn't believe it
Father, you fought me, 'cause I didn't care
And I still don't understand

So I look back upon my life
Forever with a sense of shame
I've always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a sin
Everything I've ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I've ever been
Everywhere I'm going to - it's a sin
It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin
It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a sin

(Confiteor Deo omnipotenti vobis fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione,
verbo, opere et omissione, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa)
[trans. "I confess to almighty god,
and to you my brothers,
that I have sinned exceedingly
in thought, word, act and omission,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault"]

(Zero!)
It is fascinating the particular choices of imagery. The original goes with a monastic theme with very obvious almost kitschy sorts of representation of sin. The new version simply presents a modern dance (most of the moves are yoga based) with a stark image of Catholicism. The lyrics themselves are about the impossibility of internal righteousness outwardly. In reality the lyrics are about the issue of homosexuality and how it pervades ones life and causes everything to become "sinful", the lyrics exaggerate to make a point about internal guilt.

But then the 80s video is quite conventional in its notion of sin. Totally divorced from the message. The modern video is in sync with the message about pervasive sin but here the sins themselves are abstract.

I'm not the best art critic. But I feel like there is something meaningful here I just can put into words. Any thoughts?

6 comments:

Ian McGrady said...

Obviously the sin in the 2nd video is wearing tightie whities.

Julye said...

It's no surprise that people on YouTube remix their own music videos. The more recent video was not produced by Pet Shop Boys but rather some fan, who also used footage from an acclaimed Canadian dance film.

Dance company: Carbone 14
Title of work: Le Dortoir
Choreographers (1988): Gilles Maheu & Danielle Tardif
Video producer (1991): Rhombus Media

Julye said...

It's no surprise that people on YouTube remix their own music videos. The more recent video was not produced by Pet Shop Boys but rather some fan, who also used footage from an acclaimed Canadian dance film.

Dance company: Carbone 14
Title of work: Le Dortoir
Choreographers (1988): Gilles Maheu & Danielle Tardif
Video producer (1991): Rhombus Media

CD-Host said...

Julye --

Thanks for the reference to the dance. I tried to find a DVD for Le Dortoir with no luck. Wonder where they got the video.

Anonymous said...

Was the song and music video against the Catholic upbringing or Christianity itself? It's very confusing...

I read that Tennant wrote this song from a moment of anger and frustration. I know this song is notable in the LBGT community, which makes it even more confusing if its against Christianity itself or not?

CD-Host said...

Anonymous --

I think it is a song about a rejection of a particular relationship to Christianity. In particular the idea of guilt and what being Christian meant to him, the confession at the end (translated) "I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, act, and omission, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault".

I certainly don't think liberals would consider that a rejection of Christianity, they would argue that he is in line with Galatians. For Conservatives they would see the song as upholding their view of man's fallen nature and his state without being reborn.

So while the song is intended as a rejection of Christianity it arguably is a very religious song. This song is a great paradox.