by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Today I want to talk about three things that come to me by way of the sporadic but often excellent Grizzly Bear Blog. (This is the blog of the rock-band Grizzly Bear and not, unfortunately I admit, a blog about grizzly bears.)

The Crystals - "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)"
Grizzly Bear - "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" [live on KEXP]

This is (i think) the first song that we have ever posted (i hope) which is in at least some ways a celebration of domestic abuse. The creators might claim it takes place in extenuating circumstances: the singer's been "untrue" and so when the partner takes a swing it's 'proof' he loves her. "If he didn't care for me / I could have never made him mad / but he hit me / and I was glad."

I'm not an apologist for the song - especially in the context of a girl-group like The Crystals, singing a song written for them by others (even if one of those others was Carole King!). But more interesting than this familiar critique is an exploration of the song's deeper tension, there in the distressed wall of sound that swings between Handel's Messiah and a prison march. If there's a question at the heart of this song then the answer is S&M - and not just in the cludgy, misogynistic "violence is sexy" way. Yes, the track's chorus & title are swathed in pretty, pretty instrumentation, the violence made beautiful in strings and coos. But there's also the taste of a correllary: not just roughness as love... love as roughness. Hear it in the final, triumphant line: "And when he kissed me / he made me hiss."

When Grizzly Bear take on the tune they play with precisely the same flavours. It's a more complicated reading - it's a band of men! and they're queer! - but still the voices weave in a near-hallelujah chorus, and still something sharp stalks in even the tenderest moments (hear that electric guitar, hear the brisk roll of snare).

Magic Arm - "Outdoor Games". If you could pack a fireside into a backpack, carry it with you on all your adventures, this might be how it would sound. Stop on the New Mexico highway; unpack your fireside. Pause in the English heath; unpack your fireside. Stomp through the Siberian snow; unpack your fireside. There's warmth and friendship and sweet liquors, here. There's acoustic guitar, synths, piano, hand-sounds, harmonica. There's spiced blending voices, the stuff of The Beta Band, Sleeping States, Akron/Family, Grizzly Bear, or even The Bees. There's a question over and over: "Do you have the will to end?". It's an odd question in a song as kind as this. Why make that dare? Why ask people to answer that? Unless it doesn't mean what it might. Unless it's not "Do you have the will to end [it]?" and instead, friends, "Do you have the will to [make it to the] end?"

Do you? I do.


Posted by Sean at April 2, 2007 8:34 AM

i can't seem to get these to download. maybe it's something i'm doing, but you guys might check on things. lovely post, though.

Posted by karen at April 2, 2007 3:38 PM


Posted by Patrick at April 2, 2007 3:44 PM

I've got a post drafted and lined up about Magic Arm to - it's really interesting to read a post about a song that I've been thinking about and mulling over for the last 7 days from a writer that I enjoy.

I've felt the whole "Why make that dare? Why ask people to answer that?" thing too from this song.

The downloads are working for me Karen.

Posted by Miike at April 2, 2007 5:25 PM

Great post!

Posted by Karin S. at April 2, 2007 5:38 PM

An interesting tangent: "She kissed me (and it felt like a hit)" by Spiritualized. Discuss...

Posted by boris at April 2, 2007 5:53 PM

This song was also covered by Parenthetical Girls. Look into it if you don't know it.

Posted by Brian Nicholson at April 3, 2007 1:13 AM

i recently created my own 'metal' version of this song, though i'm not entirely sure the original wasn't intended as a critique. my myspace page is Hammerslut if you're innerested. i like to think of it as being a sonic conversation between the girl and her abusive hittin' boyfriend.

Posted by Hammerslut (esther splett) at April 3, 2007 3:31 AM

Read the wikipedia entry for that Crystals song. It's interesting stuff. I think King and company probably meant it to be every bit as disturbing as it is. It's useless speculating though.

This song is weirdly tied in my mind to Antony's "Fistful of Love." I prefer Antony's take on the them, but boy is this song spooky.

Posted by dc at April 3, 2007 7:11 AM

I thought of Spiritualized, too, Boris. Any chance one was inspired by the other?

And "Fistful of Love" was covered by Devendra Banhart for a Believer music edition...

Posted by Tim at April 3, 2007 10:12 PM

All the lyrics sites I find of this transcribe the last line as "he kissed me / and made me his", which is a bit of a different take on it.

Posted by Resa at April 11, 2007 1:19 PM

great post... so simple in words but so great in expression!
but could anyone post the lyrics of "Outdoor Games"?

Posted by effi at May 19, 2007 12:21 PM

Great website. Thanks. Listening to them both over and over. Haven't heard this Crystals song since it was "pulled" 2 or 3 weeks after it was originally played. I always liked the chord progressions and arrangements. Again, thanks.

Posted by kate at May 23, 2007 10:39 AM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny