Jimi Tenor – Never Say It Aloud

There’s a saying, originally in Arabic, that there are three things you cannot hide: love, smoke and a man riding a camel. Or in another version it’s pregnancy in place of smoke. Yet in reality people hide their love all the time quite successfully.

What is the “It” that is not said aloud? It could be anything you imagine, but clearly with the “uh-huh,” “baby baby baby” and “oh yeah” shenanigans going on in this song it’s got something to do with love or sexuality. Jimi Tenor has many songs balancing on this vaguely 70s aesthetic, taking the risk of sounding tacky. And it’s not just the lyrics, but the slow groove and breathy saxophone. Some may call it dreamy and others just cheesy. I’m going with the flow and enjoying it regardless. There are situations when one just has to stop being critical, forget what expressions of desire sound like when scrutinized closely.

There was a time when this style was a clear attempt at sexiness, but in the 90s, when this song was released, there would have been a more self-conscious attitude like this: “You know and I know that this may be ridiculous, but I’m doing it anyway”. Seduction becomes a performance in which the artificiality of the gestures, the cooing and crooning, becomes a sign of sincerity. In a world where emotions have to be presented raw, it’s refreshing to remember this kind of performance. Each “baby” becomes a quotation, but that may be the nature of seduction. The gestures have to be recognizable. Willingness to be silly. It may be true confidence, or recoursing to these tropes may be a crutch. Doesn’t matter, as long as the message gets across.

What is not said aloud may be expressed otherwise. It’s in the tone of voice, in the meaningless phrases, in the meandering sax, the bursts of flute notes descending to rest. This is exactly where I want to be, running my fingers through your hair, on your body, my lips on your neck, breathing in your scent. Nothing is truly hidden even when nothing is said. There’s time for directness, but when a certain direction has been established, when both know where they’re going, being indirect can increase the excitement. Frustration, yes, but not all tension is bad, especially when there’s anticipation of release, of the moment when there’s a chance to show everything, this longing for connection, the desire to be close to each other, holding on, swaying, whispering.

The song swirls around those hopes and promises, clinging to the moment when things are not yet happening, but it’s obvious that something is in the air. The moment when words are unnecessary, or almost so. I have time to wait, we know this is happening, and I’m going to enjoy this to its fullest extent, the slow ascent into affection. All the things that are special and unique, and in the end we will be together, even if we aren’t saying it now. Love and desire become sources of confidence, trusting oneself, trusting the future, trusting the possibility of dreams becoming reality, fully committing to this desire, forgetting self-consciousness, just riding on the waves of oohs and aahs, regardless of what it sounds like.