Girl - The Beatles

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"Girl" - The Beatles (1965)

Lennon said the “girl” in the song "Girl" is the “archetype” he had been searching for all his life. She was a figure from a dream, the ideal woman who had not yet appeared in his life.

He remarked:

“When Paul and I wrote lyrics in the old days we used to laugh about it like the Tin Pan Alley people would. And it was only later on that we tried to match the lyrics to the tune. I like this one. It was one of my best.”

In 1971 he was quoted in the media: 

“I was just talking about Christianity in that - a thing like you have to be tortured to attain heaven. I’m only saying that I was talking about ‘pain will lead to pleasure’ in ‘Girl’ and that was sort of the Catholic Christian concept - be tortured and then it’ll be alright, which seems to be a bit true but not in their concept of it. But I didn’t believe in that, that you have to be tortured to attain anything, it just so happens that you were.”

The opening line of "Girl" is sheer genius. In the matter of just a few seconds, Lennon paints a complete scene for the listener while setting a narrative mood for the entire composition. It grabs our attention immediately and beckons us to stop whatever we are doing and listen closely and quietly with a sympathetic ear.

Says Beatle scholar Alan Pollack:

“The most intriguing aspect of this song is how it manages to forge an ultimately coherent statement out of what on the surface would seem to be a tangle of internally contradictory and changeable, confused sentiments. There’s a restless emotional shifting of mood and perspective as we move from one section to the next as the song unfolds; this is reinforced on the purely musically plane by the extent to which the key and melodic style changes every time to match.”

In the refrain John half-purrs and half-growls the phrase ah, girl as a wavering exhalation. The engineer put it on treble so you get this huge intake of breath and it sounds like a percussion instrument.

The music in "Girl"serves to support the story simply, and in a very economically efficient way. The lyrics are classic and carry a universal meaning. Lennon writes about a typical situation many listeners have been though and thus could easily identify with. Yet what he does is to enable us to reflect on these episodes poetically.

Lennon sings about a girl he knows he will never win, and marvels at his own naive persistence. The vain and belittling woman in “Girl” promises the world, and though her suitor is pathetic enough to believe her, in his heart, he knows it’s a lie. The cliché that a fine line exists between love and hate is the core of the song. The speaker suggests that an even finer line exists between romantic love and self-love.

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