Can You Forgive Her? (song)

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"Can You Forgive Her?"
Single by Pet Shop Boys
from the album Very
B-side "Hey, Headmaster", "What Keeps Mankind Alive?"
Released 31 May 1993
Format 7", 12", CD single
Genre Synthpop
Length 3:56 (7")
Label Parlophone / EMI
Writer(s) Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe
Producer(s) Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Was It Worth It?"
"Can You Forgive Her?"
"Go West"

"Can You Forgive Her?" is a song by Pet Shop Boys, recorded for their 1993 album Very.

Starting with a huge crash of synth and trumpet, it remains one of the more dramatic songs recorded by the duo—reminiscent of early hits like "It's a Sin". It was released as Very's lead single, almost four months before the LP itself, and became the duo's 13th Top 10 single in the UK. Although it peaked outside the Billboard Hot 100, it became a number 1 single on the US Dance chart.

The lyrics describe in the second person a young man's humiliation when his girlfriend accuses him of still being in love with a childhood friend (implicitly male); the woman is "not prepared to share you with a memory", and is "going to go and get herself a real man instead". The title of the song derives from the Anthony Trollope novel of the same name.

The second B-side, "What Keeps Mankind Alive?", also appears on the 2001 re-release of Introspective, which implies it was recorded between 1988 and 1989. The song is a cover of a musical composition, written in collaboration by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and it has been associated with the acclaimed musical, The Threepenny Opera.


In marketing for the single, the Pet Shop Boys adopted a bizarre costume involving red coveralls and extremely tall pointy hats. The music video was directed by Howard Greenhalgh and depicts the duo wearing the costumes while wandering in a surreal computer-generated environment. Live action shots were filmed in a number of either well known or futuristic locations around London. They cross London Bridge in the rush hour crowd and also walk over the footbridge at Poplar station on the Docklands Light Railway. They are shown at the top of The Monument in the City of London. The park scenes were filmed in Battersea Park and one shot shows them standing in one of the remaining sculptures from the 1951 Festival of Britain fun fair.

The single cover and two inserts with small models depicted Pet Shop Boys costumes, and were photographed by Marcus Leith.

Track listing[edit]

7": Parlophone / 8 80638 7 (UK)[edit]

A. "Can You Forgive Her?" – 3:54
B. "Hey, Headmaster" – 3:06

12": Parlophone / 12R 6348 (UK)[edit]

A1. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Remix) – 6:00
A2. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Dub) – 4:51
B1. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Remix) – 7:26
B2. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Dub) – 5:53

12": EMI / Y-56279 (US)[edit]

A1. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Remix) – 6:00
A2. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Dub) – 4:51
A3. "Can You Forgive Her?" – 3:54
B1. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Remix) – 7:28
B2. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Dub) – 5:53

CD 1: Parlophone / CDR 6348 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Can You Forgive Her?" – 3:54
  2. "Hey, Headmaster" – 3:06
  3. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Remix)
  4. "Can You Forgive Her?" (Rollo Dub)

CD 2: Parlophone / CDRS 6348 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Remix) – 7:26
  2. "I Want to Wake Up" (1993 Johnny Marr Remix) – 5:25
  3. "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" – 3:25
  4. "Can You Forgive Her?" (MK Dub) – 5:53

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[1] 17
Austrian Singles Chart[2] 18
Belgian Singles Chart[citation needed] 14
Canadian Dance/Urban Singles Chart[3] 4
Canadian Singles Chart[3] 37
Dutch Singles Chart[4] 29
Finnish Singles Chart[5] 2
French Singles Chart[citation needed] 2
German Singles Chart[6] 17
Irish Singles Chart[7] 13
Italian Singles Chart[8] 9
New Zealand Singles Chart[9] 46
Polish Singles Chart[citation needed] 17
Spanish Singles Chart[10] 17
Swedish Singles Chart[11] 9
Swiss Singles Chart[12] 19
UK Singles Chart[13] 7
US Billboard Alternative Songs[14] 10
US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles[citation needed] 9
US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs[15] 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[15] 31


  • In 2003, the Swedish blues rock band Sky High released a boogie rock version of Can You Forgive Her?. To fit better with the instrumentation, the lines "she's made you / some kind of laughing stock / because you dance to disco / and you don't like rock" were changed into "she's made you / some kind of laughing stock / 'cause you don't dance disco / and you do like rock".
  • In 2011, Finnish folk metal band Finntroll covered the song for the limited edition version of their album Nifelvind.[16]


  1. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5. 
  6. ^ "". 14 November 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: P". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  10. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  11. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "ChartArchive - Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Eurythmics Music News & Info". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Pet Shop Boys (21 December 2009). "Pet Shop Boys - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "Finntroll - Nifelvind (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
Preceded by
"Shine" by Midi Rain
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
14 August 1993
Succeeded by
"Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Mo)" by David Morales and the Bad Yard Club