Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” Lyrics Meaning
Without a shred of doubt, “Never Let Me Down Again” is a Depeche Mode classic. And many different explanations have been given concerning its meaning.
The most prevailing is that it is alluding to the singer taking illegal substances and enjoying this activity alongside a more-experienced buddy. Thus at the beginning of the track when he says he is taking ‘a ride with his best friend’, that can be a metaphor for the singer trippin’, as in getting high. Or another way of looking at it is that said “ride” is more metaphorical than literal, with the idea it is really intended to point to is that of getting thoroughly intoxicated. And his friend seems to be in control of the experience, as he is taking the singer ‘where he wants to be’.
The second verse continues this storyline with the singer once again highlighting that he’s on a ride with his pal. It also apparently reaffirms the idea that the other party is indeed in charge. In fact the narrator’s companion assures him that everything will be okay – so long as he indeed recognizes him as the authority.
Meanwhile the chorus is based on the two of them indeed “flying high”. Overall it is a joyful excursion, as the singer uses a couple of colorful metaphors to point to the idea that he wants this adventure to continue into perpetuity. Moreover while on their trip they are ‘watching the world pass them by’.
Now that last statement becomes important because in the outro the singer also states that he and his companion are ‘seeing the stars’. Thus some people have logically concluded that what the singer is actually speaking to, throughout the track, is actually a joyful memorable airplane ride alongside one of his companions. And based on this interpretation the title would be based on his desire, once again, for this trip to in fact be a never-ending one.
Could the narrator be talking about a gay romance?
Yet another theory is that this song is gay themed in nature. Thus the allusions used throughout somehow are possibly intended to insinuate that the singer and his companion are rather engaged in a sensual gay affair. In fact at a certain point in time Depeche Mode was actually perceived as a homosexual band by many people who were familiar with the group.
But all of that being said, we are inclined to stick to the most-popular understanding of this song. And what is this? It is about the singer getting high, in an inebriated sense, with a close friend. This is because what we do definitively know is that Depeche Mode’s purported homosexuality, to this day, is by and large a rumor. Indeed band member Martin Gore is reportedly on record confirming that in fact one member of the group was gay, though it wasn’t him. So it is generally unlikely that he would write a song about such a topic.
Yet what we do know is that the band has a documented history of drug abuse. Or put differently, “flying high”, in an intoxicating sense, is something which Depeche Mode themselves have admitted they’ve enjoyed.
But such an understanding of this song is for those who are intent on deriving more from the lyrics than what appear on the surface. That is to say that, in the most basic sense, what “Never Let Me Down Again” is about is the singer enjoying an excursion, whether it be metaphorical or not, with his companion.
Facts about “Never Let Me Down Again”
This is the second single from Depeche Mode’s album “Music for the Masses”. And Mute Records released it as such on 24 August 1987.
Dave Gahan started a movement in 1988 whereby fans would do a certain type of arm wave during the band’s live performances of “Never Let Me Down Again”, which reportedly has persisted to this day.
There have been a couple of different mixes of this song, as featured on Depeche Mode’s compilation albums “Remixes 81-04” (the “Split Mix”) and “Remixes 81-11” (the “Eric Prydz Remix”), respectively released in 2004 and 2011.
There are also a couple of different music videos to “Never Let Me Down Again”. However, in both cases Anton Corbijn served as the director.
“Never Let Me Down Again” was quite successful internationally, charting in 15 countries around the world. This included making appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, UK Singles Chart and peaking at number 2 on the Official German Charts in West Germany.
Smashing Pumpkins’ Version of “Never Let Me Down Again”
The Smashing Pumpkins, a rock group from the United States, covered this song in 1998 as part of an overall tribute album dedicated to Depeche Mode. This is especially notable because the band’s most-prominent members, M. Gore (the song’s writer) and Dave Gahan (the co-vocalist), have stated a liking to their rendition. In fact Gahan went on to say that he thought it was better than the version Depeche Mode themselves dropped. All of Depeche Mode produced the original version of “Never Let Me Down Again”, in conjunction with Dave Bascombe.