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Let's Not & Say We Did

02:26
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “LET’S NOT & SAY WE DID”

As a prefatory matter, it bears mention that, in the context of this collection – which traffics mostly in the darker spaces where monsters tend to dwell – this song is something of a palate cleanser, an intermezzo offering two-and-a-half minutes of blessed relief from the prevailingly minor mood storm cloud that hangs over much of this CD.  Which is why it is placed at (what is more or less) the center of the album.

To paraphrase John Merrick the Elephant Man, “I am not a couch potato!”  Not only have I never been a couch potato, but as I’ve edged ever closer to the age my dad was when he died, I’ve experienced an escalating compulsion to get out and do stuff while I still have time:  stuff I need to do, stuff I want to do, stuff that’s just plain fun to do.  When a friend announces that his or her weekend plan is just to “veg out” – or, worse yet, urges me to do the same – I recoil in horror:  “The weekend is my time!” I snarl.  “I’ll rest when I’m dead.”  Or some such overheated rhetorical nonsense.

So, it’s ironic that, were couch potatoes ever to declare an official theme song, this should be a strong contender.  “Let’s Not & Say We Did” is the tale of a couple who, rather than going out dancing, imbibing at a local watering hole, or scarfing down a nice meal at some upscale eatery, would rather sit cuddled in front of their TV, probably wrapped in a double-wide Snuggie and munching Cheetos.  Their guilt over their anti-social behavior – clearly projected upon them by me, as no true sofa spud would feel even the slightest pang of remorse over staying home – is reflected in their apparent need to tell their friends they’re doing something else, something way cooler:  “But, on second thought – let’s not and say we did.”

I assume that most writers these days, when they come upon a title they want to use for a song, book, etc., “Google” it to see whether it’s been used before, by whom, in what context, and (most importantly) how successful the earlier work was.  When I researched “Let’s Not & Say We Did,” I found one other song with that title; but aside from using the phrase itself, it had absolutely nothing to do with claiming that one was doing something one actually was not doing.  And, as I started to develop my lyric, I began to understand why:  It’s not easy to make inert people fun, sexy, attractive, interesting or even sympathetic.  However, I think this song rises (albeit lazily) to that challenge.  The singer ponders all the different things he and his squeeze might do that night, but in the end rejects each of them in favor of spending a quiet evening at home, enjoying each other’s company.  Kinda sweet.

Now, admittedly, the country rock genre is not my usual stomping ground.  In fact, I’ve taken heat on some of my quasi-country songs for using “profanity” (specifically, the use of the word “Goddamned” in “The Thing About Time,” which I insist is not gratuitous but necessary to convey the grumpiness of the old coot singing the song – seriously, wouldn’t “doggone” have been too precious?) or for using fancy words (the “Nashville” version of “Everything Breaks,” concededly not a country song by birth, drew snipes for its use of the words “incessantly,” “perpetually” and even “immortality”).  So, do these music business flacks really believe that country folk are that sensitive, or that dumb?  In my experience, non-urbans can be incisive, resilient and resourceful individuals, with tremendous (and often self-effacing) senses of humor.  They’re certainly the kind I’d want around if I were marooned on a desert island, where the so‑called “best and brightest” – who tend to trade primarily in the theoretical realm – would generally be less than useless and voted “Most Likely To Be Eaten First.”  In any event, while I tried to avoid my customary bookishness here, it was not because the hillbillies wouldn’t get it, but because the self-appointed gatekeepers of all things “country” apparently can’t handle that sort of thing.

At its core, this song romanticizes something that most American couples are already doing most evenings anyway.  In that regard, it is similar in aspiration to what Bruce Springsteen actually accomplished with his Born to Run album, where he transformed suburban kids who did nothing more than drive around all night into instant folk heroes, the “poets” who “don’t write nothing at all,” but “just stand back and let it all be.” 

As for the recording itself, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the violin on this track was performed by Hudson Valley neighbor, true artist and kindred spirit E’lissa Jones, who trekked out in the middle of a snowstorm to do the session.  Her eclectic blend of sophisticated classical phrasing, note choice and vibrato with rustic zydeco sawing warmed the cold basement studio better than a space heater and provided the perfect, elegant finish to this not-quite-country song.  In the words of the Elephant Man himself, “It’s lovely!”

Lyrics

LET’S NOT & SAY WE DID
 
Let’s go strolling tonight under the stars
Let’s go dance to the Roadhouse Clams in a roadside bar
Let’s go riding around burning up our tires (like a couple of kids)
But, on second thought – let’s not and say we did
 
Let’s pull on our Dan Post boots and our best blue jeans
Let’s go out for a couple of rounds and cause a scene
Mixing it up with some good ol’ boys (over what they said)
Hey, on second thought – let’s not and say we did
 
Let’s pretend we’re out there rolling with the in crowd
In a place that’s far too crazy and too loud
Let’s not let on to our friends how tonight we’re quite content
Cuddled up here watching football on the couch
 
We can tell ’em all we’re on some secret mission
When all the while we’re sipping coffee
Sitting barefoot in our kitchen
 
Let’s head out to a fancy restaurant
Where you can order any little thing your little heart might want
Let’s get dressed and get on up (out of this big bed)
Ah, on second thought – let’s not . . .
On second thought – let’s not . . .
Yeah, on second thought – let’s not and say we did