The song's co-writer Allee Willis was later responsible for the Friends
theme, "I'll Be There For You
." Among her other songwriting credits are "September" and "Boogie Wonderland
" by Earth, Wind & Fire and "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters. Willis is also an accomplished artist, which is how she hooked up with the Pet Shop Boys. In her Songfacts interview, Willis said: "That was one of my favorite music publishers I was with at that point, Kathleen Carey, who now runs Sony, but at that point was at a small boutique company at MCA called Unicity. She loved this group named Pet Shop Boys who had this hit in Europe called 'West End Girls
.' And their manager was coming to L.A. to get them a publishing deal. She felt that because they were really interesting guys - one was an architect, one was a writer - and they were much more intelligent than many musicians were at that point in terms of knowing something outside of the world of music. So she thought it was a great personality match.
She was also a very big collector of my artwork, and I'd started painting just that year. And it was all around her office. And she said to me, 'I'm gonna try and get this guy (Tom Watson, their manager), because I know he collects art, and once he comes over, I'm telling you, you're going to be on a plane to England to write with them.' So he loved the artwork, he bought some stuff, he came over, and he said, 'Can I fly you to England, and would you do the Pet Shop Boys' portrait? We need the portrait done for fan club stationery.' So I went there as a painter, and as they were posing for me, they said, 'Why haven't we seen your art before?' And I said, 'Well, I'm mainly a songwriter. I just started painting,' and you know, 'What kind of music do you like?' And I didn't tell them what I had written. But we talked enough, and then Neil, the lead singer, went, 'Oh, my god, you're not the "A. Willis" on all those Earth, Wind & Fire albums, are you?' And so that night we started 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'
So I stayed like an extra week. And then it still took a couple of years because of their confusion at the structure of the record, and then convincing Dusty Springfield to sing, which from the very beginning they said they wanted to do it as a duet with her. I had written several things for her before and knew her, so I started on my end, and they started on their end, and eventually she said yes. And it became her second largest-selling single next to 'Son Of A Preacher Man
.' So I was real happy about that." (Read more in the Allee Willis interview
, and at her website: alleewillis.com