Joe Jackson

Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Song Review by Tom Maginnis

”Is She Really Going Out With Him?” is the track that put Joe Jackson on the musical map. Released as a single in the fall of 1978, the song became a Top Twenty hit on both sides of the Atlantic. To mainstream ears, the songs distinct humor threatened to reduce the track to odd novelty status, encouraged no doubt by Jackson’s talky narrative verses that describe the boy/girl laws of attraction with a string of priceless quips. To a soft seesaw rhythm of plunking guitar and bass, Jackson uncorks one of the great opening lines in pop, “Pretty woman out walking with gorillas down my street”, immediately setting a vibe of cool indignation. As Jackson would go on to prove throughout his brilliant debut album, the nervy New Wave/Pub Rock hybrid Look Sharp!, he is a master of capturing mood and meaning through minor detail, much like a practiced short story writer, as he coos the rest of the verse with a mixture of hurt and bemused detachment, “From my window I stare as my coffee goes cold / Look over there (where?) / There, there’s a girl I used to know / She’s married now or engaged or something so I am told”. The song also manages to avoid being crushed under the weight of its own wit by kicking into a strong and emotionally compelling chorus, the sound filling with clean guitars and tight bass and drum groove set to a gently rolling rhythm as lush vocals ask, “Is she really going out with him? / Is she really going to take him home tonight? / Because if my eyes don’t deceive me there’s something going wrong around here” In a short bridge section, we get a glimpse of Jackson jazz training, with a loose sweep of piano chords over a musical build that has Jackson venting some pent up frustrations as his vocal takes a more earnest stance, “But if looks could kill / There’s a man there who’s more down as dead/ ‘Cuz I’ve had my fill / Listen you! Take your hands from her hair! / I guess I’m mean around this scene / Hey, hey, hey…” ”Is She Really Going Out With Him” was just the tip of what was to follow, the lead salvo from one of the stand out albums of the late 70’s New Wave/Pop era.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Look Sharp! 1979 A&M 3:35
Night and Day 1982 A&M 0:00
Stepping Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson 1990 Universal 3:34
Sounds of the Seventies: 1979 - Take Two 1991
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:35
D.I.Y.: Starry Eyes: UK Pop, Vol. 2 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 0:00
Alterno-Daze: Origin of the Species -- 2000 BC To ? 1995
Various Artists
Rebound Records 3:36
Every Song Tells a Story 1995
Various Artists
Shock Media 3:37
Greatest Hits 1996 A&M 3:34
This Is It! The A&M Years 1997 Polygram 4:36
Hard Rock Cafe: New Wave 1997
Various Artists
Rhino
There's Something About Mary 1998
Original Soundtrack
Capitol / EMI Records 3:36
Ultimate 70's [Crimson] 1999
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Classic Joe Jackson: The Universal Masters Collection 2000 Universal International 3:39
Drivetime Triple Set 2000
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:35
Music Men 2000
Various Artists
WEA
The Collection 2001 Spectrum Music 3:40
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Joe Jackson 2001 A&M / Uptown / Universal 3:35
Alterno-Daze 2001
Various Artists
Special Product / MCA
Steppin' Out: The Very Best of Joe Jackson 2001 A&M 3:35
Top Hits of the Seventies: Mega Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 3:35
No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 3:36
The Ultimate Collection 2003 Universal Distribution / CCM 3:35
Drivetime [Universal] 2003
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:35
'70s [Universal 2004] 2004
Various Artists
Universal / USM 3:39
Power Pop Anthems 2005
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 3:37
Very Best of Joe Jackson 2006 Universal International 3:39
True Drivetime 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 3:35
Greatest Ever! Seventies 2007
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:39
The Silver Spectrum Collection 2007 Universal Distribution 3:38
Tonight & Forever: The Joe Jackson Collection 2007 Spectrum Music 4:36
Colour Collection 2007 Spectrum Music 3:39
Greatest Ever Dad: The Definitive Collection 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:39
80's Top 100 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:19
Lost & Found: 1970's Pop, Vol. 1 2008
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
The Best of 1979: 20th Century Masters 2008
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing / Universal Music 3:37
The Tiswas Album 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:37
Classic Joe Jackson 2009 Spectrum / A&M / Universal Music 3:39
Gold Classic Hits Radio '70s 2009
Various Artists
Gold Classic Hits Radio / Universal Music 3:38
Collected [Universal] 2010 Universal 4:21
100 Essential Love Songs
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:37
Aussie Summer BBQ
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Australian BBQ
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
BBQ Summer [Universal] [2020]
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Best Live Music
Various Artists
Universal 4:18
Broken [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Cottage Music: Power Ballad Bangers
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Discover Classic Rock
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Good Music Only
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Is She Really Going Out With Him/(Do the) Instant Mash A&M / Universal Distribution / Universal Music 4:17
New Wave Hits [80's Mix]
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Perfect Background Music
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Power Pop Legends
Various Artists
Universal 3:34
Retro Road Trip
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Summer Classics [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal 3:37
Viaje a 1979
Various Artists
Universal 3:34