It’s been months and months now, and I still can’t get Blake Mills’ Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me out of my head. One of the sweet joys of exceptional songwriting is how the form lends itself to encapsulating quotidian truths, in haiku earworms that cling to the recesses of your consciousness, sometimes for a lifetime. And Mills has worked a minor miracle here, in nailing a romantic relationship moment that hasn’t, to this lifetime song-connoisseur’s mind, ever been addressed before with such pithy specificity.
Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me is a plaint sung from the doghouse. You’ve gone and done it – you’ve said that thing that shouldn’t be said, committed that possibly unpardonable heart crime – and as you’re enduring your significant other's punishment, your already bruised ego faces an inevitable consequence: She's going to tell your mutual friends all the gruesome details of what a complete and absolute ass you’ve been. So you forge another twisted apology, hoping against hope that maybe… hey, can’t we keep this between us?
Give it a listen (and peruse the lyrics at leisure if you like). Complete with a killer bridge that’s hilarious in its unabashed simplicity (“I know I fucked up,” Mills sings, and repeats and repeats it), the song exemplifies one aspect of contemporary romance that gains more and more value as time speeds by: how love means being willing and able to leap past your bullshit and land on your truth. Humble honesty, it seems, is one of the last refuges of the New Romantic.