Album: Rattus Norvegicus (1977)


  • This aggressive track finds lead singer Hugh Cornwell itching for a fight with his girl. It was inspired by a real-life incident when Cornwell hit his girlfriend after he discovered her cheating. He recalled in the 2011 book The Stranglers: Song By Song: "After a year or so together I suspected she was seeing someone else and went round to her house at about ten o'clock one morning, but she wasn't there and hadn't been back all night. When she turned up I could smell sex on her and slapped her. I didn't beat her up because I don't think violence is a solution to anything, but I did get angry and slapped her. I was using violence as a release of emotion and the lyrics to 'Sometimes' came out of that."

    He added: "I'd never done it before and I've never done it since. It's a very odd situation, not only just to find out that someone's been cheating on you, but to actually catch them coming back with the smell on them. It's a horrific situation to be in and I'll never forget it."
  • While the song was inspired by a violent act between lovers, it was also influenced by the volatility of society at large. Says Cornwell: "A lot of the lyrics in this song are reflecting the state of play when we were starting out. There was a lot of aggression at our gigs, with people throwing things at us, and altercations with members of the audience. There was a very aggressive reaction to our music and the more aggression there was towards us the more aggressive we became. But you get to a situation in writing lyrics where one idea feeds another and it's not clear which is creating which. It's the chicken and egg situation.

    Some of the morbid lyrics towards the end were inspired by Francis Bacon, who had this fascination for books of accident victims and corpses. I was drawing upon phrases that seemed to fit with what I was trying to say. A lot of the lyrics have been interpreted in a mundane way. Much as I love fans that buy records, people do put very strange interpretations on things that are just turns of phrase. I love playing with words and unusual phrases that are in the public domain. I think that because your later music was mellower, people could see the lyrics subtleties, whereas 'Sometimes' is very in your face."
  • Cornwell described how the song came together: "I said, 'I've got this idea for a song called 'Sometimes' and it could be about someone hitting somebody else and John [Ellis, guitarist] said, 'Great!' He had another bit of music and I worked out the chorus and the middle eight. We then went to Dave [Greenfield, keyboardist] and Jet [Black, drummer] and said, 'We've got this song, it's called 'Sometimes' and it's in E. I sang it and played over John's bass line, and Dave then worked out which chords fitted. There might have been two or three possibilities, but only one that worked. In situations like these we'd say, 'That's a good bit, Dave,' so he would have his theme worked out. I'd pick up a guitar and start finding some strange things to do and Jet would have the beat. We'd work on the music in rehearsals and it would develop from there."
  • Cornwell on why the band chose the punk-influenced track as the opener to their debut album: "Maybe that was another reason for putting it as first song on the album, drawing people in so they thought they had bought a punk record, and then giving them something a bit more intelligent afterwards. It's a perfect opener for the album in that sense." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation, for all of the above


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Protest SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know your protest songs (including the one that went to #1)?

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.

Oliver LeiberSongwriter Interviews

Long before she was judging contestants on American Idol, Oliver was producing Paula Abdul. Here's how he helped turn this unknown choreographer into a star.

Bryan AdamsSongwriter Interviews

What's the deal with "Summer of '69"? Bryan explains what the song is really about, and shares more of his songwriting insights.

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.