Pride Single Stories: Pet Shop Boys, “Go West"
Itâs Pride Month, an annual event which began as a way to memorialize the Stonewall Riots of 1969, but has evolved into an opportunity for a monthlong celebration of the world's LGBT communities and their freedom to be themselves. Here at Rhino, weâre using the month to celebrate some key songs which can regularly be heard during such celebrations, and weâre kicking things off with a cover of a Village People song that the Pet Shop Boys turned into a full-fledged anthem.
Written by Jacques Morali and Village People frontman Victor Willis, âGo Westâ was the title track of the Village Peopleâs fourth album, which also contained their hit single âIn the Navy.â (Ironically, it would prove to be Willisâs final album with the group, but he left just before the band began work on their âclassicâ film, Canât Stop the Music, so at least there was one positive aspect to his departure.)
The song entered the Pet Shop Boysâ story when filmmaker Derek Jarman asked Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe to perform at an AIDS charity event at legendary Manchester nightclub The Hacienda in 1992. It was Loweâs decision to cover âGo West,â not Tennantâs, as you mightâve guessed if youâd heard him botching the lyrics during their performance that evening. Fortunately, he either memorized them or at least had the words in front of him when the duo decided to record it for their 1993 album, VERY.
Pet Shop Boysâ version plays up the intentional similarity to âPachelbelâs Canon,â brings in an all-male Broadway choir, and adds a new bridge which makes the song even more Pride-ful:
There where the air is free
we'll be what we want to be
Now if we make a stand
we'll find our promised land
Upon its release, âGo Westâ topped the US Dance Club Songs chart, was a chart-topper in Finland, Germany, Iceland, and Ireland, hit #2 in the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Sweden, and Switzerland, and made it into the top 10 in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain.
Talk about a lot of Pride...
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