Is there anybody going to listen to my thoughts about the song “Girl”? Ah, “Girl.” (deep sigh)
Armed with melancholy harmonies and alluring, wistful guitar strums, it’s easy to get sucked into this cynical, matter-of-fact ballad. It was one of the earliest Beatles songs I became familiar with, thanks to its appearance on the 1962-66 compilation, which boasted a whopping six of 14 Rubber Soul cuts. Even though I’m ranking this above “Drive My Car,” I feel like “Girl” is probably the least essential inclusion of the bunch. It’s a great song, but thematically it feels similar to “Norwegian Wood” and musically shares some DNA with “Michelle.”
Of course, “Girl” does boast one distinct feature–John Lennon’s blissful inhalation, which I initially chalked up as another innovative musical technique from the Liverpudlian lads. I was flabbergasted when my aunt proposed the notion that it was meant to invoke the puffing of an illegal substance. Heavens to Betsy! There was no way my beloved Beatles would ever indulge in such things, much less promote them.
Pictured: Paul McCartney arrested in Japan in 1980 for…uh, let’s go with pollution? Can we settle on pollution?
The other noteworthy thing about “Girl” is the backing vocals in the middle eight provided by the apparently easily amused Paul and George. I’ll let Paul explain:
It was always amusing to see if we could get a naughty word on the record: “fish and finger pie,” “prick teaser,” “tit tit tit tit.” The Beach Boys had a song out where they’d done “la la la la” and we loved the innocence of that and wanted to copy it, but not use the same phrase. So we were looking around for another phrase, so it was “dit dit dit dit,” which we decided to change in our waggishness to “tit tit tit tit,” which is virtually indistinguishable from “dit dit dit dit.” And it gave us a laugh.
It was to get some light relief in the middle of this real big career that we were forging. If we could put in something that was a little bit subversive then we would. George Martin might say, “Was that ‘dit dit’ or ‘tit tit’ you were singing?” “Oh, ‘dit dit,’ George, but it does sound a bit like that, doesn’t it?” Then we’d get in the car and break down laughing.
And I thought a marijuana reference was cheeky! Heavens to Betsy once again. They sure stuck it to society with this one. Ah, bloody hell, it brings a smile to my face too. Nice work, boys.