Kiss and Tell

I saw the Phil Spector documentary this week, The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, which opens with the astonishingly creepy, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss),” penned by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

This seemed fitting, after several days of listening to Cherrelle’s equally jarring 80’s R&B single “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.”

Written and produced by Minneapolis duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in 1984, the song doesn’t sound unlike Prince’s “1999” or one of the songs that would have been recorded by their group The Time around then, but instead of a party jam (albeit an occasionally apocalyptic one), we get a narrative of one uncomfortable evening:

“Now you bring me home / and tell me good night’s not enough for you / I’m sorry baby / I didn’t mean to turn you on”

“Why should I feel guilty ’cause I won’t give / guilty ’cause I won’t give in”

We’re definitely edging into sexual harassment (or worse) terrain with this one, which is a departure from the denial of the Spector/King/Goffin song. This also makes it a more intriguing version than Robert Palmer’s stellar but ultimately less-satisfying performance a few years later.

(NOTE: I recall reading a review of Palmer’s Riptide, which also featured the megahit “Addicted to Love,” in Musician Magazine. I’ll never forget how the reviewer said those songs made it seem like Palmer sang about sex “like it gave him hernias.”)