a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

You Press The Button, We Do The Rest

Lyrics & Music: Duke Special / Neil Hannon

Published by: Nettwerk One Music / Sony ATV Music Publishing

Originally interpreted by: Duke Special


To see the lyrics, click on the name of the version you are interested in (on the left).



This song was co-written by Neil Hannon and Duke Special for Duke Special’s album Under The Dark Cloth. The album is a concept album about photography based on the works of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand which were exhibited at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. While most of the songs on the record are based on an actual photography, this song is based on a former Kodak advert from 1889 [1]. George Eastman’s Kodak camera aimed to make the process of photography available to the mass and develop the fields of amateur photographers.

The song had actually the lyrics written before the music, as said Peter Wilson: “For ‘You Press the Button’, Neil Hannon and I worked for hours on the lyrics before we went anywhere near the piano.” [2] It’s noteworthy that the mark of Neil Hannon’s works for that period is clearly present: the piano-based melody and the way the lyrics fit the portrait of a retro-character who doesn’t see very well the changes the technology brings to the society (cf. ‘The Lost Art Of Conversation’).
The song is indeed about the moment when technology changes the relation between the society and an art. While more people can use (or abuse in an instantaneous way) a camera, it seems to devaluate the lost art of photography. However, the point of view sounds a bit elitist, since the Kodak’s owners are even qualified as ‘being stupid’. While it’s somehow unfortunate that the message is actually a bit negative, there’s however some truth in it. Perhaps the writers got their inspiration from the people who keep taking awful pictures with their mobile phone at gigs? The meaning of the song actually still applies for today’s technology where people believe being artists while they just click on a button and apply pre-defined filters. Therefore the song brings us to a reflection about the definition of art while the technology gives more means of expression to the amateurs.

[1] Kodak advert
[2] Interview with Duke Special on LPV Magazine