I had to prove that I could make it alone now
But that's not me;
I wanted to show how independent I'd grown now
But that's not me.
I could try to be big in the eyes of the world -
What matters to me is what I could be
To just one girl.
I'm a little bit scared
Cause I haven't been home in a long time.
You need my love
And I know that I left at the wrong time.
My folks when I wrote them and told 'em what I was up to said
That's not me;
I went through all kinds of changes, took a look at myself and said
That's not me.
I miss my pad and the places I've known
And every night as I lay there alone
I would dream.
I once had a dream
So I packed up and split for the city.
I soon found out
That my lonely life wasn't so pretty.
I'm glad I went.
Now I'm that much more sure that we're ready.
[Chorus - 2x First two lines]
Again, as in Wasn't Made For These Times, parents are involved in the lyric for That's Not Me and the listener can imagine that the speaker has perhaps recently left his hometown to pursue his dream and left his high school sweetheart behind. Now that the boy has had a chance to try out different things in the big city, he doesn't recognize himself in the urban pleasures and adventures. He can only long for the girl back home, and therefore, he knows he is ready to marry her. This recognition of being made ready for marriage by trying on different things and finding they don't fit is given a lift to a higher key.
The boy says "we're ready" to his girlfriend but the song depicts him as an utter failure. He wanted to become independent and yet is longing for attachment; we can presume that he didn't achieve his dream to make it big because nothing matters without his sweetheart. "I miss my pad" is the 60s expression that dates the piece. [It was used again by the Beach Boys album Smiley Smile, in the song Little Pad (In Hawaii).] The term does some work in the lyric though, making it clear that the boy's room was in his own apartment before leaving town, and he wouldn't be returning to his parent's house. It seems he had already established a bit of independence for himself by having his own place back in his hometown.
Some critics have distinguished That's Not Me as the most conventional rocker on Pet Sounds, relying heavily on percussive drive (including the use of temple blocks) and Mike Love's vocal in an echo chamber. Without clutter to contend with, the guitar parts provide brief melodic accents. It is the only song on the album where the three Wilson brothers play instruments together; the usual studio musicians (known as the Wrecking Crew) are not used for the track. That's Not Me does appear to be less produced than many of the other songs, but in my opinion, its complexity of composition is at least a step above some of the other songs included on the album. The song has an A section with irregular lines and an interior refrain, and a B section that upon its repetition provides new lyrics which become the chorus. Further, the B section is pushed up a notch to an improvisation on the chorus for a couple of lines in another key, followed by a vocal glissando that returns to the chorus repeated in its home key twice afterward.