The Beatles

Girl

Song Review by

"Girl" might have been produced at the very end of the period in which the Beatles were still writing love songs exclusively, but as Beatles love songs go, it was one of their most melancholy and complex. In both tempo and melody, the composition, primarily the idea of John Lennon (completed with considerable help from Paul McCartney), betrayed the Beatles' oft-overlooked debt to Greek music in their ballads (see also "And I Love Her" and "Michelle"). The guitar work on "Girl," however, was more likely to generate specific comparisons to Greek music than "And I Love Her" and "Michelle" were, or indeed than any other Beatles song was -- the instrumental reprise of the bridge near the end, indeed, is very much like a Greek dance. The Beatles' view of the "Girl" in the song, if not of womanhood as a whole, is seen to be one that regards her as a simultaneous bitch and goddess. That is not the most enlightened view of women, many would agree, but it is nonetheless one held by many men in both prose and real life. The girl of the composition is seen as a source of both delight and torture, of both pain and pleasure, both a necessary source of succor and an oppressive burden to support. The narrator's resignation to this situation is ingeniously reflected by one of the Beatles' most unusual choruses, consisting solely of a couple of falsetto repetitions of the one-word title, to which Lennon responds with a heavy sigh, as if sagging in exasperation. The words take an especially savage turn in the bridge, as the tempo suddenly doubles while Lennon wails about a woman who humiliates him with a pleasure that verges on the sadistic. Lyrics near the end of the song commenting on whether the girl has been taught that pain would lead to pleasure, and that a man must break his back to earn his leisure, are almost Biblical in tone. Rather surprisingly, McCartney revealed these phrases (in his semi-autobiography Many Years From Now) to be his work, rather than Lennon's as many had supposed. The high backup harmonies on the bridge, incidentally, incorporate one of the more outrageous inside jokes the Beatles were increasingly apt to sneak into their recordings: although these sound on a casual listen like "dih-dih-dih-dih" scats, Lennon eventually let slip that they were actually singing "tit-tit-tit-tit."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rubber Soul 1965 Apple Records / Capitol 2:31
1962-1966 1973 Capitol / Parlophone 2:31
No Image 1977 Capitol 2:34
Historia del Rock & Roll, Vol. 1 1991
Various Artists
Orfeon 2:23
Hit Parade Top Rock 'n' roll Hits: 50's and 60's, Vol. 1 1991
Various Artists
Orfeon 2:23
Historia del Rock & Roll 1993
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:22
No Image 1993 Big Music 2:17
No Image 1994 VigoTone
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 2:33
The Capitol Albums, Vol. 2 2006 Apple / Capitol / EMI 2:30
LOVE 2006 Capitol / EMI Records / Apple 0:00
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 2:31
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 2:31
1962-1970 2010 EMI / Parlophone 2:31
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 2:32