a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

A Secret History

After 10 years with Setanta, The Divine Comedy decided to release a best of, which of course doesn’t only include the singles, but also very popular songs. Some songs were re-recorded (‘The Pop Singer’s Fear Of The Pollen Count’) or remixed (‘Your Daddy’s Car’). The best of also features two new songs: ‘Gin Soaked Boy’ and ‘Too Young To Die’.

The band had a hard time trying to find a title for the best of. Among propositions were Woodshed Express, in reference to The Divine Comedy’s most famous songs, and Disillusions of Grandeur. In the end, the title A Secret History was chosen; The Secret History being a novel by Donna Tartt. [1]

The fact that A Secret History is a best of didn’t mean for Neil Hannon that its structure was less important than an album’s. Consequently, the opening song is ‘National Express’, The Divine Comedy’s highest charted single. Then follow four other hits that make the first part of the album. The song before last, ‘Too Young To Die’, is maybe the most interesting song of the record. Indeed, the song is about change whereas the best of marked the end of an era (The Divine Comedy changed label from Setanta to Parlophone), therefore many people expected a radical change in The Divine Comedy. The period was also a period of change in Neil Hannon’s personal life as he got married in September 1999. Because of all this, he found that he had matured and didn’t need to hide behind suits and romantic songs anymore. ‘Tonight We Fly’ is the last song, once again, indeed the lyrics make it a very good last song. It overlaps ‘Too Young To Die’ because Neil wanted to emulate the way it came in at the end of Promenade. [2]

The best of was platinum in Ireland and golden 3 weeks in the UK.

[1] The Liberator, 1999
[2] The Divine Comedy Q&A, 2000


“These seven years in the life of The Divine Comedy prove that underneath the flamboyance beats the real heart of a great songwriter.” – Select