Girl (Beatles song)
Italian single cover, backed by "Nowhere Man"
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Rubber Soul|
|Released||3 December 1965|
|Recorded||11 November 1965,|
EMI Studios, London
"Girl" is a song written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and performed by the Beatles on their 1965 album Rubber Soul. "Girl" was the last complete song recorded for that album. "Girl" is one of the most melancholic and complex of the Beatles' earlier love songs.
The song's instrumentation has specific similarities to Greek music; similar to "And I Love Her" and "Michelle". As for the inspiration of the song's lyrics, Lennon stated that the "girl" was an archetype he had been searching for and would finally find in Yoko Ono. He said: "'Girl' is real. There is no such thing as the girl, she was a dream, but the words are all right. It wasn't just a song, and it was about that girl – that turned out to be Yoko, in the end – the one that a lot of us were looking for." In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine in 1980, Lennon said of his song "Woman": "Reminds me of a Beatles track, but I wasn't trying to make it sound like that. I did it as I did 'Girl' many years ago. So this is the grown-up version of 'Girl.'"
McCartney claimed that he contributed the lines "Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure" and "That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure." However, in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon explained that he wrote these lines as a comment on Christianity, which he was "opposed to at the time". Lennon said: "I was just talking about Christianity, in that – a thing like you have to be tortured to attain heaven ... – be tortured and then it'll be alright, which seems to be a bit true but not in their concept of it. But I didn't believe in that, that you have to be tortured to attain anything, it just so happens that you were."
Author Ian MacDonald describes "Girl" as "Lennon's answer to McCartney's 'Michelle': another Euro-song, replacing his partner's suave mock-French with a decadent German two-step crossed with Mikis Theodorakis's music for Zorba the Greek". Performed by Lennon and George Harrison, the acoustic guitars on the track were played with capos, lending an extra brightness to their sound. Musicologist Walter Everett comments that one of Harrison's guitar parts has the capo positioned so high up the neck and is played by him in a manner that creates a "nasal, sitar-like 'bouzouki' sound".
Lennon's lead vocals were initially overdubbed and featured a characteristic unheard before on a Beatles song. In McCartney's description: "My main memory is that John wanted to hear the breathing, wanted it to be very intimate, so George Martin put a special compressor on the voice, then John dubbed it … I remember John saying to the engineer (Norman Smith) when we did ‘Girl,’ that when he draws his breath in, he wants to hear it." Following the Beatles' request, the engineer added more treble to the vocal, which, in Everett's description, matches the sound and timbre of the brushed cymbal played by Ringo Starr. In the song's middle eight sections, McCartney and Harrison sing the word "tit" repeatedly as vocal harmony. McCartney stated that this part of the vocal arrangement was influenced by the Beach Boys. He recalled: "The Beach Boys had a song out where they'd done 'la la la' and we loved the innocence of that and wanted to copy it, but not use the same phrase."
Cancelled 1977 single release
In early 1966, "Girl" was issued as the B-side of "Michelle" in several European countries. It was also released as the A-side of a single in Italy, backed by "Nowhere Man".
In November 1977, Capitol Records scheduled the United States release of "Girl" backed with "You're Going to Lose That Girl" as a single (Capitol 4506) to accompany the release of Love Songs, a Beatles' compilation album that contains both of these songs. However, the single was cancelled before it was issued.
- Dalida recorded "Girl" in Italian and released it as "Amo" on her 1967 Italian album Piccolo Ragazzo.
- Johnny Hallyday recorded "Girl" in French and released it as "Je l'aime" in 1967.
- Cathy Berberian included it in her 1967 album Beatles Arias.
- Jim Sturgess sang "Girl" in the film musical Across the Universe.
- Rhett Miller recorded a version of "Girl" that can be found on the album This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul.
- St. Louis Union recorded a cover version in 1965, that was released in January 1966, and reached #11 on the UK Singles Chart.
- Tiny Tim recorded a dramatic reinterpretation with the band Brave Combo in 1996.
- The Truth recorded a cover version on the Pye label (7N.17035) in 1966 (b/w "Jailer Bring Me Water").
- Ronnie Von recorded a Portuguese version called "Meu Bem" in 1966; his version was released in Brazil before The Beatles version, and made such success that when the Beatles' version arrived, the radios used to do this announcement: "And now Ronnie Von's song 'Girl' in the voice of The Beatles".
- Serj Tankian has covered the song live numerous times.
- Joe Jackson covered the song on numerous stops on his 2003 tour for Volume 4, and this version appeared on the bonus disc of Afterlife. And it's on "Live Music - Europe 2010".
- Roberts Gobziņš recorded a version of the song with Latvian lyrics, appearing on his first album in 1993.
- Chris de Burgh covered the song in his 1995 album Beautiful Dreams.
- Paul Carrack recorded the song for his 2007 album Old, New, Borrowed and Blue.
According to Ian MacDonald, except as noted:
- John Lennon – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocals, lead acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Sheff 2000, p. 197.
- Miles 1997, pp. 275–76.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 68.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 181.
- Unterberger 2009.
- "62 - 'Girl'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Ryan, Kevin (2006). Recording The Beatles. Houston, Texas: Curvebending Publishing. p. 404. ISBN 978-0-9785200-0-7.
- Cott 1980.
- Everett 2001, p. 333.
- Everett 2001, pp. 333–34.
- Kruth 2015, p. 192.
- Roberts 2006, p. 479.
- Cott, Jonathan (5 December 1980). "Rolling Stone Interview with John Lennon". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 October 2006.
- Hertsgaard, Mark (1995). A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of The Beatles. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-31377-2.
- Kruth, John (2015). This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul Fifty Years On. Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1617135736.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- Unterberger, Richie (2009). "Girl". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
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