He Hit Me (and It Felt like a Kiss)

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This article is about the song. For the film event, see It Felt Like a Kiss.
"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)"
Single by The Crystals
B-side "No One Ever Tells You"
Format 7"
Recorded 1962
Label Philles
Writer(s) Gerry Goffin, Carole King
Producer(s) Phil Spector
The Crystals singles chronology
"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)"
"He's a Rebel"

"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" is a written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King for girl group the Crystals under the guidance of Phil Spector in 1962. Goffin and King wrote the song after discovering that their babysitter and singer Little Eva was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend.[1] When they inquired why she tolerated such treatment, Eva replied, with complete sincerity, that her boyfriend's actions were motivated by his love for her.[1]


Phil Spector's arrangement was ominous and ambiguous.[1]

It was a brutal song, as any attempt to justify such violence must be, and Spector’s arrangement only amplified its savagery, framing Barbara Alston’s lone vocal amid a sea of caustic strings and funereal drums, while the backing vocals almost trilled their own belief that the boy had done nothing wrong. In more ironic hands (and a more understanding age), 'He Hit Me' might have passed at least as satire. But Spector showed no sign of appreciating that, nor did he feel any need to. No less than the song’s writers, he was not preaching, he was merely documenting.

— Dave Thompson[1]


Upon its initial release, "He Hit Me" received some airplay, but then there was a widespread protest of the song, with many concluding that the song was an endorsement of spousal abuse.[1] Soon, the song was played only rarely on the radio, as now.

The 1930 Frank Borzage film Liliom contains the line "He hit me and it felt like a kiss" in its final scene. The film was not a success and nothing suggests that Goffin or King had seen it. Liliom, originally a play by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár, was the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic, Carousel. While King and Goffin may not have seen Liliom, it is possible that they were familiar with the successful 1956 film version of Carousel, which contains essentially the same line. However, King has stated that their friend who inspired the song had used that exact phrase.[2]

Carole King, in that same radio interview, said that she was sorry she had ever had anything to do with the song. She was a survivor of repeated domestic abuse (but not from Goffin, who had been her husband from 1959 to 1969.[3])

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Saint Etienne song "She's the One" quotes the song's title.
  • The song was played in its entirety on the September 26, 2007, episode of The Tom Leykis Show titled 'The One They Won't Play'. The subject of the show's hour was in relation to Phil Spector's writing and production of the song, and the fact that he got married in the period between being accused of the murders and the end of his trial.
  • Amy Winehouse had frequently mentioned the song as one of her all-time favourite tracks and biggest influences.
  • In 2008, Glasvegas released a Christmas EP titled "A Snowflake Fell and It Felt Like A Kiss," the title track being a homage to The Crystals.
  • The Cardigans song "And Then You Kissed Me" rewrites and reinterprets "He Hit Me".
  • The Antony and the Johnsons song "Fistful of Love" deals with nearly identical themes of love and abuse, yet in this version the genders of the song's characters are ambiguous.
  • Amy Rigby's song "Dancing With Joey Ramone" lists "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)" as one of the songs they danced to in her dream.
  • Mad Men used the song as the closing credit bump on the April 8, 2012, episode titled "Mystery Date."
  • The Nation of Ulysses song "The Sound of Jazz to Come" reworks the song's title into "she hit me it felt like a kiss" after riffing on John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme."
  • Lana Del Rey uses the line "Hit me and it felt like a kiss" in her 2014 song "Ultraviolence" from the album of the same name. Prior to this, she used it in her unreleased song "Beautiful Player."

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "allmusic". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  2. ^ Gross, Terry (host) (2011-04-11). "For Carole King, Songwriting Is A 'Natural' Talent". Fresh Air. 36 minutes in. NPR. WHYY. Retrieved 2012-04-24. But Gerry wrote that lyric after hearing an African-American woman that we knew… just come right out and say that. 
  3. ^ "Carole King (I) - Biography". Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  4. ^ "Amazon.com: All Four One: The Motels: Music". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  5. ^ "Dedicated To The Ones We Love". Archived from the original on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  6. ^ "YouTube - Grizzly Bear - He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) - Live @ UCLA". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  7. ^ "Free Songs: Grizzly Bear". Archived from the original on 2009-03-08. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  8. ^ "The Keys - Unwoman". Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  9. ^ "Kramer: The Brill Building > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved July 17, 2015.