But Not Tonight

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But Not Tonight
Song But Not Tonight
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Gareth Jones
Daniel Miller
Recorded at Westside
Genetic (London)
Hansa Mischraum
Length (mm:ss) 4:15
Tempo (intro) 115.456 BPM
(remainder) 132.097 BPM
Time signature 4
Key D Major
Programmed by Martin L. Gore
Engineering assistance Richard Sullivan
Peter Schmidt
Additional engineering Kevin Paul
Kevin Vanbergen
Roger Johnson
Additional mixing Kevin Paul
Mastered by Tim Young
Mastering engineer Tim Young
Remastering engineer Simon Heyworth
Recording Dave Allen
Recording assistance Phil Tennant
Photography Brian Griffin
Photography assistance Stuart Graham
Recorded Late 1985
Originally released 10 February 1986
Live performances as Depeche Mode 60 times *
Total live performances 60 times *

"But Not Tonight" is a song recorded during the production of the 1986 album Black Celebration by Depeche Mode. It was released as a single on 10 February 1986.


Denis McNamara from WLIR 92.7 Radio (who also interviewed Martin in 1986) wrote on his Facebook profile in 2019:

"Martin Gore once complained to me that Depeche Mode had to put this song on the 'Black Celebration' album because we played it so much as a B-side [from the single 'Stripped'] on [WLIR] 92.7 that it became so popular that they were told they would be crazy not to put it on the album. So they put it on as the last song and the rest is history. I've heard no complaints from him since."

This song was performed live for the first time in 2013. The quotes below describe the reason why it was played.

Martin Gore told Rolling Stone:

"This spring we played a small show at the Troubadour in L.A. and we did 'But Not Tonight' for the first time ever – we did that one acoustic and it was surprising how much people loved it. America is really the only place where the fans love that song – it was a single in America but not in the rest of the world. It's like a forgotten gem."

Andy Fletcher told the January 2014 issue of Playboy Ukraine:

[I]t's a B-side from the 'Stripped' single. Apparently Martin heard a piano version of this song somewhere, and he loved it very much. He played it a couple of times in the studio, and we decided to include it in the set list. And by the way, we are amazed at how the audience reacts to it! It's great! And how everyone sings along at the end!"

Fan Craig DeGraff wrote for his Depeche Mode Fakebook page takeover:

While A&R-ing a remix compilation I stumbled across a demo of 'But Not Tonight' with Martin Gore's vocals. It then hit me that the only way they might perform it live would be if Martin did an acoustic version. It'd also be a heck of a way to impress my wife. I plotted to create a piano version and get it to Martin. With the help of my friend Brian, we created a slowed down version with just vocals and piano. Fortunately he was DJing at an annual holiday charity event in Santa Barbara a few weeks later so I honed in on my opportunity. After the DJ gig we were talking and I gave him a USB drive with the warning "You may not want anyone to hear this." When he left I figured the odds were slim he'd check it out but it was worth a shot. In March of 2013 I went to SXSW to the kick off the Delta Machine album launch. After a great set at Brazos Hall we went up to the roof for the afterparty. I approached Martin and, before I could get a word out he smiled and said "You gave me the drive in Santa Barbara. I think it's great and we may play it on tour." I couldn't believe it. Needless to say my anticipation for the tour rose to new heights and, when the band announced a special L.A. show at the Troubadour I knew I had to be there. Half way through the set Martin walked out for his solo song and, as the opening chords of 'But Not Tonight' rang out, I (and the crowd) lost it. The joy in the room was overwhelming and to hear the crowd sing along was a feeling I'll never forget. After the gig I managed to grab a setlist and hurried next door for the aftershow. I managed to get Dave, Fletch (who said But Not Tonight was one of his favorite songs) and Martin to sign the setlist. Martin laughed while signing it and said "I told you we'd play it!"

Fan Michael Kachko replied to that same Facebook post:

"The best part was when [Craig and I] were backstage in Vegas and I thanked Martin for playing But Not Tonight and he turned to Craig and said "No thank him!""


But Not Tonight

Oh God, it's raining

But I'm not complaining

It's filling me up with new life

The stars in the sky

Bring tears to my eyes

They're lighting my way tonight

And I haven't felt so alive

In years

Just for a day

On a day like today

I'll get away from this constant debauchery

The wind in my hair

Makes me so aware

How good it is to live tonight

And I haven't felt so alive

In years

The moon

Is shining in the sky

Reminding me

Of so many other nights

But they're not like tonight

Oh God it's raining

And I'm not containing

My pleasure at being so wet

Here on my own

All on my own

How good it feels to be alone tonight

And I haven't felt so alive

In years

The moon

Is shining in the sky

Reminding me

Of so many other nights

When my eyes had been so red

I'd been mistaken for dead

But not tonight

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1986 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Music video

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "But Not Tonight"
Main article: List of dates where "But Not Tonight" was played


  • 'But Not Tonight' was featured in the 1986 comedy Modern Girls.

1981-1985: Dreaming of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of LoveLeave in SilenceGet The Balance Right!Everything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous RumoursSomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Route 66Personal Jesus
1990-1999: Enjoy The SilencePolicy of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2000-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn the RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2010-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalkerMissing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle LivingHold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw SomethingDeeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012: SpockSingle BlipAftermaths