The Go-Go’s/Fun Boy Three: “Our Lips Are Sealed”
The Go-Go’s (1981)
Fun Boy Three (1983)
Well, today on Cover Friday we have an offshoot of yesterday’s Special AKA post, as it co-features the other splintered portion of the Specials, Fun Boy Three, made up of Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Neville Staples. My choice here is in fact not truly a cover, in the usual sense of the word, as “Our Lips Are Sealed” was co-written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlin, of the Go-Go’s, and then recorded separately by their respective bands.
I read the story behind the song recently when reading Belinda Carlisle’s Lips Unsealed: A Memoir. Now I have to state for the record that I use the term “read” loosely here — I ended up skimming at least the entire second half of the book because she is such a bad writer, for one thing, and for another, if I wanted to hear about how Belinda spent more-or-less the entirety of both the Go-Go’s existence and her own solo career in a coked-up haze, which is pretty much the subject of 3/4 of the book, I would have just . . . well, come to think of it, I wouldn’t have read it. She comes off as an incredibly insecure and selfish person, and that’s even considering the fact that I think she’s trying to have us like her. If you’re looking for real insights into the early ’80s new wave scene, it’s not the book you’re looking for.
So, to get back on track here: my original point was that she relates the story (which I confirmed elsewhere because I don’t trust Carlisle enough to relate it correctly) that Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall (who was already involved with someone else) had a brief fling while the Go-Go’s were opening for the Specials early on in their career. Afterward, Hall sent Wiedlin a letter with the lyrics to “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which was inspired by their affair; Wiedlin liked the lyrics and set them to music (and sent the completed song back to Terry Hall), and pop history was made. The Go-Go’s released it first, on their 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat, and Fun Boy Three released it later on their 1983 album, Waiting. The song is considered by some (Rolling Stone magazine among them) to be among the greatest pop songs in music. I would agree that it’s certainly an incredibly perfect pop nugget — great lyrics and an irrepressible melody and rhythm (as performed by the Go-Go’s). Of course, Fun Boy’s Three version isn’t nearly as upbeat. In fact it’s rather depressed sounding, which might be an indication of Hall’s mindset when he wrote the lyrics — clearly he had fallen for Wiedlin but knew that it would never get anywhere. Wiedlin, on the other hand, was younger and felt more able to move past it all. But enough pop psychology — let’s just stick with the pop!