Madness

My Girl

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When "My Girl" climbed to number three in January of 1980, it was their biggest U.K. hit up to that point. The song has proved to have surprising durability. Tracey Ullman's 1984 cover (retitled "My Guy") was a British hit as well. And in 1992, Virgin re-released the original version as a part of a series of CD singles marketed in support of the greatest-hits collection Divine Madness. The song was written by pianist Mike Barson, who has composed a lot of the band's best songs. But when he tries his hand as a lyricist -- as on "Driving in My Car," "Grey Day," "The Tune," and "The Sun and the Rain" -- the results are often painfully dopey. It's not that his "My Girl" lyrics aren't without a sort of goofy charm, and he undoubtedly struck a chord with guys who feel that their partners just don't get their need for independence. But his clumsy disregard for any semblance of rhyme structure makes the lyrics sound as if he jotted them down on a napkin. Throughout the song, the rhymes are either thuddingly obvious ("Why can't she see/she's lovely to me/but I like to stay in and watch TV") or non-existent ("on my own every now and then"). Fortunately, Barson's melody, as well as Suggs' vocals and Clive Langer and Alan Wistanley's production, have a loopy self-awareness that almost seems to mock the vapidity of the lyrics. The song is mated on this CD single with three live tracks recorded in 1980 and 1981. The catchy but seldom heard "E.R.N.I.E." and "Tomorrow's Dream" are welcome inclusions. There is also a solid performance of the more familiar "Embarrassment." The case for this CD contains an empty space for the second "My Girl" single, which is sold separately.