Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill (20th Century, 1978)


Blame it on Alan Alda. The poster man-child for all things sensitive embodied the soft introspective and liberal kindness that the media pushed on males to become during the 70s. Alda’s squint and smirk stayed with us throughout the decade via the TV show, M*A*S*H and, after decades of bottled up feelings, became the go-to guy for the ‘new’ man. Some guys took this soul searching to hilarious new depths, but not many traveled in an emotional diving bell like Dan Hill and his Top 3 hit, Sometimes When We Touch, from his 3rd LP, Longer Fuse (good one, Dan)

Dan Hill is Canadian, which is French for either polite or passive, I can’t remember which. And even if Dan wanted to convey a feeling of warmth and intimacy, it feels like he wrote this song in a remote cabin somewhere on the Manitoba tundra, miles from civilization. Or maybe he was in a large Shining-like hotel, typing ‘subsides’ over and over on an old typewriter, until he went nuts. He may want you to think he’s a sensitive soul but instead, he comes off like a guy with a lot of restraining orders against him. How does anyone take these lyrics seriously?

You ask me if I love you
And I choke on my reply

Yikes! That’s not a good sign. Of course, I (cough, cough), love, er, ummm, you…or something…what?

I’d rather hurt you honestly
Than mislead you with a lie

Here’s some of that sensitive crap coming out. See he’s a good guy cause he’s being honest even if he’s crushing your soul in the process. Don’t get mad, the truth hurts. And yeah, I need you out of my house at the end of the week.

And who am I to judge you on what you say or do?
I’m only just beginning to see the real you

Is this a back-handed compliment? Is he saying that everything was cool until he found out who you really were? But hey if that’s your thing to be a total bitch all the time, that’s your trip, man. That’s a YP, not a MP.

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide

Uh, wait. I thought you wanted honesty here. And now you’re saying it’s too much? And you wanna make like an ostrich?

I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you til the fear in me subsides

This guy would like to hold you til he dies…ladies, the line forms to the left.

Ok, this is where Mr. Crazy shows up. Hold you til I die? I thought he was breaking up with her and now he’s getting all Single White Female on her. And who doesn’t want a boyfriend that’s so clingy that you have an emotional breakdown?

Romance and all its strategy leaves me battling with my pride.
But through the insecurity, some tenderness survives

Basically, he’s saying that he doesn’t want to work at a relationship, is he not? And even if he is a dick to her, she still loves him. Or maybe he’s saying something else? It’s vague, in a very non-cryptic, lazy way.

I’m just another writer still trapped within my truth

No, you’re not.

A hesitant prize fighter still trapped within my youth

When looking for an adjective that describes winning boxers, hesitant would not be on the list. Nor would childlike. Except for Mike Tyson.

At times I’d like to break you and drive you to your knees
At times I’d like to break through and hold you endlessly

Now there’s some brutal honesty. Dan admits he wants to smack his girl around. And then when he calms down or has what he calls, a breakthrough, then hold you and never let go. Ladies, are you getting excited yet?

At times I understand you
And I know how hard you’ve tried
I’ve watched while love commands you
And I’ve watched love pass you by

Doesn’t this sound condescending to you? It should be to the girl that’s he’s breaking up with.? Or to the girl that he’s letting know that he wants to keep an open relationship with.

At times I think we’re drifters
Still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister
But then the passion flares again

Ok, I get the ‘wanting’ companionship part. But comparing looking for a sister or a brother to ‘passion flaring’ is beyond creepy.

So to recap, Dan’s not in love with you. Dan doesn’t really want a commitment. And Dan wants you to respect that. But Dan doesn’t want you to go anywhere or be with anyone else. Or Dan is gonna get mad. Real mad.

We had this 45 in our house, which explains a lot of what I had to overcome in the relationship arena. Think about all kids born in late 78/early 79 whose parents had this gem on the hi-fi while they got busy. Now that honesty is way way too much.

Leave a comment


  1. S.Carras

     /  October 7, 2013

    I don’t know, I think that the third verse (on LP and CD only, never on 45’s) ended not with “a brother or a sister” but “I’d rather hold your sister”.:)

  2. Fred J. Zebuck

     /  November 28, 2013

    Reading this post for the first time today, and just cannot stop laughing !
    Great stuff. Thanks

  3. Jason Learned

     /  January 12, 2014

    Y’know, Tina Turner did a cover of this from her album “Rough”. Of course, her version doesn’t sound anywhere near as schmaltzy as this and has a good soul/gospel vibe going. I like Dan Hill, but I cannot stand this song – although I like Tina’s version.

  4. I kind of agree with your interpretation of the song.

    “At times I’d like to break you and drive you to your knees” ??? That’s a scary statement. Yep, he sounds like a major psycho! He is a unquestionably a domestic abuser. He is one of those insecure men that could be a rapist or someone that will sabotage your job, so you will need him financially and you wont be able to get out of a VERY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP. He probably expects a woman who sits home and have numerous babies; and looks like a supermodel at the same time. The kind of man that will compare you to grandma’s , super models, younger women, and call you fat or skinny. He will definitely tell you your boobs are too small or saggy. The kind of man that takes and takes, but never gives. A self centered prick! The kind of man that only cares what you look like and not what is in your brain/heart. He won’t hold you till you die; he is more likely to break you till you commit suicide. He is probably one of those church nuts, or he is a cop, he may also be catholic, republican, or a closet homosexual. 🙂 Just saying:)

    This is one way to look at the song, but he could also just be a lovesick nineteen year old who just had a lot to learn about women. I am sure he would have stopped thinking like that by his third divorce.

  5. Always thought this song was creepy as well…especially when forced to slow dance to it at eighth-grade dances.

  6. Max

     /  July 4, 2017

    Sweet Jesus! This…this noxious unforgivable dreck is was sent me RUNNING to the sweet, safe arms of The Ramones.
    So ,Thanks Dan !
    No, truthfully.
    Anyone reading this probably has some interest in music and knows ” Snobs” or “Elitists” when discussing the topic and I like to think I’m a lot more objective. More so than ever.
    And this 45 is what you light on fire to ignite a pedophile priest you are sending to Hell.
    So it makes sure he gets there, removes one more vinyl co p y, and makes it hurt even more !


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