Respectable Street
by XTC

Album: Black Sea (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • This single from the band's fourth studio album examines the hypocritical actions of so-called respectable people. Lead singer Andy Partridge explained: "[It was] actually inspired by my neighbor who spends half her life banging on the wall should I so much as sneeze. Not knocking people who have 'respectable' ideals (I know I must have a few), more of a song of people with double or hypocritical values. You know the sort, blind drunk one night, church the next. Or the mother who urges her daughter to go out and have fun dear, isn't abortion wonderful. If their daughter got pregnant they would beat her senseless."
  • Fearing the BBC wouldn't allow a song on the air with overt references to abortion and contraception, Virgin Records urged the band to re-record the track with more acceptable (or "respectable") lyrics for radio play.

    In an interview with Daniel Rachel (The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters), Partridge explained how he cleaned up the song and how one innocuous lyric was the single's undoing. "I thought half a spunky song with a half-gritty lyric is better than none so I agreed to rewrite the lyrics to get rid of certain words that Virgin found offensive," he said. "So contraception became child prevention, abortion became absorption, which I thought was a lot filthier; seemed to suggest sanitary protection to me. Retching became stretching over the fence and f--k me, the radio still wouldn't play it. I was told years later by a BBC employee they were really upset by the phrase Sony Entertainment Centre. The same reason Ray Davies had to change Coca-Cola to cherry cola; it was an advertising brand. How frustrating is that!"
  • The music video shows the band dressed in formal wear for a faux-elegant performance with violins and cellos. Instead, they cut loose and eavesdrop on their rowdy elderly neighbors.

Comments: 1

  • Lisa Benavides from Monterey, CaIncredible song with appropriately cynical lyrics. Partridge has always been one to make the audience think.
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