Tonight is forever!

I love the idea of people being so into certain songs that they make their own, alternative videos. Sometimes its a cutting exercise that just needed some music, sometimes its a carefully edited montage that puts things into a new perspective, like the "Fly me to the moon" video I wrote about yesterday.

"Tonight is forever" uses a different, very simple approach to a stunning outcome. The author uses one of the great, early Pet Shop Boys songs "Tonight is forever" and plays it over an unedited excerpt of Godfrey Reggio´s "Koyaanisqatsi". Now, one of the things "Koyaansiqatsi" is famous for is the soundtrack by Philip Glass. The track that is used during the wonderful timelapse shots of Chicago(?) by night is called "The Grid" and is known for its relentless, minimal rhythms and melody fragments.

By replacing the original music, which is an essential part of the whole film, with the somehow elegic pop of the Pet Shop Boys, we see a non existing promo-clip to a non-existing single. The effect works so well, that many people on YouTube believed that this is actually an official release by the band. This is not surprising since PSB themselves let photographer Wolfgang Tillmans direct a video for "Home and dry", which shows nothing more than mice running around a London underground station. However, this concept is broken up with a 20 second scene of the band playing. As if some record company executive got cold feet at the last moment.

The song "Tonight is forever" appeared on the first Pet Shop Boys album "Please" in 1986.
It is somehow a "prototype" PSB song, as it uses imagery and the sentiment of rock music but turns it completly upside down by refusing to play to the rules of rock.
The thin, distant voice, nearly drained from emotions or a gender determination glorifies the decadence of nightlife while wishing to fall in love to be saved from it.
The elegic chords seem to slow down the driving disco beat, which cites the Hi-NRG era but also anticipates the upcoming house-sound that was about to dominate pop-music in the near future. There are also echos of italo-disco and the Bobby O. songs they wrote in the beginning of their career.

The overall feel of the song - despite its easy going positivity - is sad and there is a strong sense of loss. The singer is undecided and passive. He "could be wrong", he "could be right", he doesn´t work and is content with going out every night. He is waiting for somebody else who "holds the key" and "opens the door", so that things will never change but without staying the same.
These metaphors are actually pulled from the bottom drawer of pop-cliches and are begging for cheap laughs. However, as soon as Neil Tennant claims that "I don´t think of the future tonight", nobody is laughing anymore!

It was the height of the AIDS crisis and the carefree hedonism of the seventies disco-era was gone. While pop music was all the rage during this time, dance music was in a stage of transition. Italo and Hi-NRG was more or less over, (acid)-house had not yet arrived.
Clubmusic was dark and agressive. It was the time of Electronic Body Music (EBM) , Industrial and Gothic.
The urban melancholy of "Tonight is forever" really stands on its own. It is a timeless pop song that, despite its 80´s production values, still triggers strong emotions today.

As with so many PSB songs of this era, supressed or alledged homosexuality always looms under the surface.
This theme is often recurring in Tennants lyrics of that time: "Two divided by zero" suggests that "someone started a rumour" about the protagonist and his partner and they decide to run away before the news spread.
It´s one of the best "escape" songs ever: "We´ll catch a plane to New York and a cab going down across the bridges and tunnels, straight into town. Tomorrow morning we´ll be miles away, on another continent on another day."
Of course the "rumour" could be anything, but gay listeners immediately got the message.

The titles of some of the b-sides are even less cryptic: "I bet she´s not your girlfriend" and "It must be obvious" are nearly giving it all away. But then the ambivalence of the lyrics are shying away from a real statement.

Before "Very" which was sort of an "official coming-out" album, the lyrics of the Pet Shop Boys were much more satisfying, because they had more poignancy and were open to interpretation. After the masterpiece that was "Behaviour" and their finest hour "Being Boring", they made sure that the message of "Go West" was clear to everybody.

But instead of the over the top campness of their Village People cover, i could listen to "Tonight is forever" over and over while gazing at the detached time-lapse of the city at night. Thinking about the time when I was actually going home from the clubs while everybody else was going to work. The time when you were really living for the night, and when you knew - deep inside - that all this was just a passing phase. But for the moment you accepted that your life would go on like this. For ever and ever.

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