The Meaning Behind “Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s and the Rocker Romance that Inspired It

The first words that most of us heard from The Go-Go’s were, Can you hear them? Belinda Carlisle bellowed them out after the shimmering instrumental intro of “Our Lips Are Sealed,” a pop gem that had taken a long, strange trip to get to where the band turned it into their first charting single.

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What is the song about? What inspired it? And how did it turn into a hit for both of its co-writers working for different bands? Hush now, darling, so you can hear the compelling tale of “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

New Members, New Sounds, and New Romantic Drama

The Go-Go’s formed in California in 1978 right when the punk movement started by bands such as the Sex Pistols and Ramones was in full bloom (or maybe full sneer would be more accurate). Unsurprisingly, their early music skewed in this direction. While their live shows in and around Los Angeles proved a major draw, they struggled to gain a record deal.

In the period between 1978 and 1980, they underwent personnel changes, with Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock joining the core of Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, and Charlotte Caffey. When they started to move away from punk in a poppier direction, they finally scored a record deal with I.R.S. Records.

In 1980, the ska band The Specials asked The Go-Go’s to be their opening act on a British tour. That proved to be the impetus for “Our Lips Are Sealed,” as Wiedlin explained in an interview with Songfacts:

“I met Terry Hall, the singer of The Specials, and ended up having kind of a romance. He sent me the lyrics to ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ later in the mail, and it was kind of about our relationship, because he had a girlfriend at home and all this other stuff. So it was all very dramatic. I really liked the lyrics, so I finished the lyrics and wrote the music to it, and the rest is history.”

Hall would later go on to form the band Fun Boy Three, and decided to record his own take on “Our Lips Are Sealed” with his new band. That version doesn’t have the energetic burst of The Go-Go’s’ take, instead taking on a more reserved tone. It gave Fun Boy Three a Top 10 hit in the UK.

Meanwhile, “Our Lips Are Sealed” broke The Go-Go’s wide in the U.S., with a playful video helping gain it exposure as well. The song reached No. 20 and paved the way for the rerelease of “We Got the Beat,” which hadn’t charted in its first go-around but then rose all the way to No. 2.

What Does “Our Lips Are Sealed” Mean?

“Our Lips Are Sealed” doesn’t overtly mention the somewhat forbidden nature of the relationship that sparked it. You can simply hear it as a pact taken between two lovers to ignore the loose lips of gossip that might hinder them. They’re telling lies / Well, that’s no surprise, Carlisle deadpans on lead vocals.

The narrator insists that trying to respond would only feed the gossipy flames: There’s a weapon that we must use / In our defense / Silence. Not only will keeping quiet stop the rumors, but it will destroy the rumormongers: When you look at them / Look right through them / That’s when they’ll disappear.

Wiedlin takes over in the bridge with ethereal vocals that play off Carlisle’s in-your-face approach. Meanwhile, the refrains of “Our Lips Are Sealed” take on a triumphant feel in The Go-Go’s’ version. Who knows if Wiedlin and Baker felt that way at the time? We do know the power of the song they created has certainly outlived their rendezvous in a way they likely never could have imagined.

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Photo by J. Strauss/FilmMagic

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