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The Beatles Songs: Girl

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Girl

The proposed Capitol "Girl" 45 from 1977

rarebeatles.com

Girl

Written by: John Lennon (80%), Paul McCartney (20%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: November 11, 1965 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: November 15, 1965
Length: 2:27
Takes: 2

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar (1964 Gibson J160E)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1963 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: harmony vocals, acoustic lead guitar (1962 Gibson J160E), acoustic rhythm guitar (1964 Framus 12-string "Hootenanny")
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)

Available on: (CDs in bold)
Rubber Soul (UK: Parlophone PMC 1267; US: Capitol PCS 3075; Parlophone CDP 7 46440 2) The Beatles 1962-1966 (UK: Apple PCSP 717; US: Apple SKBO 3403; Apple CDP 7 97036 2) Love Songs (UK: Parlophone PCSP 721; US: Capitol SKBL 11711)

History:

  • The very last song written and recorded for Rubber Soul, "Girl" was inspired by a short instrumental piece Paul McCartney crafted in September 1963 after a vacation in Greece. Possibly also due to the recent resurgence of interest in Greek culture spurred by the hit 1965 Anthony Quinn film Zorba The Greek, "Girl" was put together by John in the studio on the spot, with Paul's original riff inserted in the right channel during verse 3 (1:31) and louder near the end as an instrumental break (2:01).
  • The lyrics to "Girl" largely stay in familiar pop music territory -- the feckless lover who tortures her boyfriend with her prima donna attitude. (John's wife Cynthia was convinced the song was a swipe at her.) Lennon, however, typically added a twist in the third verse, one inspired by his own upbringing: "Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?" John later claimed this as a rejection of "the Catholic/Christian concept - be tortured and then it'll be alright." Paul also later claimed authorship of this line, though it seems rather atypical for him.
  • "Girl" was written quickly and recorded in a single day's session on November 11, 1965, with two takes of John's and George's acoustic rhythm guitars, Paul's bass, and Ringo on drums. (George added a somewhat anachronistic fuzz guitar lead, but this was edited out.) Backing vocals were then added, Paul's Greek riff replicated, and John's lead vocal re-done. With work completed on "Girl," the band spent the rest of the all-night session putting final touches on "I'm Looking Through You" and "Wait." Three weeks later, Rubber Soul was in stores.

Trivia:

  • The group pulled off one of its naughtiest practical jokes in the studio during the recording of this song, singing "tit" repeatedly in the bridge instead of the usual nonsense syllable "dit." Producer George Martin was reportedly unaware of the switch, which seems probable, since the difference is extremely subtle. In addition, there's a inhalation of breath after every "Girl" in the chorus, done by John, very close to the mic and put through an effect to make it sound wobbly. Some hear this as a audible reference to "toking" marijuana, but it's more likely an attempt to get across the sensual yet painful nature of the narrator's relationship.
  • "Girl" was included on the Beatles 1977 compilation Love Songs in a new stereo mix, one that moved John's lead vocal to center. The song was also prepared for release as a single to promote the new comp (with "You're Gonna Lose That Girl" as the b-side), but was pulled from production at the last minute.
  • In his famous 1980 Playboy interview, John called his new song "Woman" a "grown-up version" of "Girl," implying that his romantic relationships had matured as well.

Covered by: St. Louis Union, Dalida, Jim Sturgess, Joe Jackson, Rhett Miller, The Truth, Johnny Halliday, Bud Shank, Freiwillige Selbstkontr, Tiny Tim with Brave Combo, Serj Tankian, Ronnie Von, Los Doltons, The Brothers Four, Charlie Byrd, The Paul Horn Quartet

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