‘Do That to Me One More Time’ is a song about a guy who’s bad at sex

Where do Grammys come from? Well, when a man and a woman love each other very much...

Where do Grammys come from? Well, when a man and a woman love each other very much... Associated Press

Like most people, the majority of my questions about the Captain & Tennille’s sex life have always centered around the role of the captain’s hat.

But with the death yesterday of Daryl Dragon, aka the Captain—in fact, pretty much only known as (pmoka) the Captain—at the age of 76, a loss we at City Pages mourn with as much heartfelt grief as we can summon for a musician with no Googleable Minnesota connections, I was given cause once more to reflect upon how “Do That to Me One More Time” remains the most misunderstood song in the C&T oeuvre.

Captain & Tennille songs are typically self-explanatory. “Love Will Keep Us Together” is about how love will keep them together. You might desperately hope “Muskrat Love” is some kind of metaphor, but sorry, it’s just about rats fucking. (Want to hear Tennille tell a cute story about the time she sang it to a war criminal, followed by the Captain making rodent sex noises on his keyboards? You know you do.)

“Do That to Me One More Time” became the duo’s final hit in 1980, and it’s not just proof that the ’70s ended later than the calendar will tell you they did, but it also sums up the Captain & Tennille’s core appeal—reassuring increasingly-less-young married couples that famous people (even foxy blonde ladies!) were just as corny as they were. You, my millennial friend, may well have been conceived on account of, or perhaps even during, Tom Scott's seductive Lyricon break here.

So, yes, “Do That to Me One More Time” is about sex, as most songs not by Radiohead are. (At least I hope Radiohead’s songs aren’t about sex.) The conventional wisdom is that “Do That to Me One More Time” is, as a Billboard listicle called it, a “simple-yet-subtle ode to male virility.” (Subtle? What’s she supposed to do, just grab him by the hair?) And yet, for as long as I’ve known that sex is a thing you can be “good at,” like parallel parking, I have known, in my heart, that “Do That to Me One More Time” is about being bad at it.

Sure “once is never enough with a man like you” sounds like a compliment. But is it? Is it really? After a vigorous bout of Carter-era lovemaking, would any man want to hear “That was great but... not quite enough. In fact, it’s never enough”? And “kiss me like you just did”? Look, I don’t mean to brag, but I have kissed someone and you can usually figure out if you’re doing it right without verbal coaching.

There’s no need to catalogue the many forms that male sexual inadequacy can take or to speculate about which of these afflicts the man being implored for an encore here. Perhaps it was just an off night and he was just distracted by worries about inflation or the hostage crisis or Three Mile Island.

Then again—never enough.