Girl
By: Beck Hansen, The Dust Brothers

Written by: Beck Hansen, The Dust Brothers

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Songy
a.k.a. Summer Girl

Versions:
  1. Girl (3:29)
    Available on Guero and 9 other releases.
    Credits
    Recorded at: The Boat
    Beck Hansen: Bass, Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Slide), Producer, Programming, Vocals
    The Dust Brothers: Beats, Producer
    Dan Grech Marguerat: Engineer
    Nigel Godrich: Mix
  2. Bit Rate Variations in B-Flat (2:38)
    Available on Guero and 2 other releases.
    Credits
    Paza: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  3. Girl (Recluse Street Remix) (3:53)
    Available on Guero and 3 other releases.
    Credits
    Krikor: Mix
    Benjamin Morando: Producer
    Suzanne Thoma: Producer
    Octet: Remix
  4. Girl (Junior Senior Remix) (4:13)
    Available on Guero.
    Credits
    Junior Senior: Remix
    Beck Hansen: Vocals
  5. Girl (Culture Shock Mix)
    Available on Culture Shock 14.
  6. Girl (Leaked Version) (3:53)
    Available on Guero.
  7. Girl (Surround Mix) (3:29)
    Available on Guero.
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Girl (Girble Remix) (3:43)
    Credits
    Ganglion: Remix
  2. Girl (Peter Chrisben Remix) (3:40)
    Credits
    Peter Chrisben: Remix
  3. Mix In The Weekend 07-04-06 (4:48)
    Credits
    Arctic Monkeys: Mashed
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Bloc Party: Mashed
    Dead 60s: Mashed
    Kaiser Chiefs: Mashed
    Madonna: Mashed
    The Killers: Mashed
    DJ Sandstorm: Remix (Mashup)
  4. My Goblin Girl (Clean) (4:14)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Goblin: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  5. My Goblin Girl (Dirty Girl) (4:15)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Goblin: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  6. My Goblin Girl (Extended) (5:42)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Goblin: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  7. My Goblin Girl (Steal Her Eyes Reprise) (6:05)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Goblin: Mashed
    logicError: Remix (Mashup)
  8. My Machine Girl (3:29)
    Credits
    DJ Goldshine: Remix
  9. Stop Girl (Say it Isn't So) (3:16)
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed
    Hall & Oates: Mashed
    The Supremes: Mashed
    dj BC: Remix (Mashup)
  10. Girble (Ganglion - Girl) / Girl (Octet Remix) (3:10)
    Available on Three Steps Beckwards.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed (Girl (Girble Remix)), Mashed (Girl (Recluse Street Remix))
    Ian Wardle: Remix (Mashup)
 
 
Lyrics:
Girl [Version (a)]:

I saw her, yea I saw her
With her black tongue tied round the roses
A fist pounding on a vending machine
Toy diamond ring stuck on her finger
With a noose she could hang from the sun
And put it out with the dark sunglasses
Walking crooked down the beach
She spits on the sand
Where their bones are bleaching

And I know I'm gonna steal her eye
She doesn't even know what's wrong
And I know I'm gonna make her die
Take her where her soul belongs
Know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl

I saw her, yea I saw her
With her hands tied back
Her rags are burnin'
Crawling out from a landfilled life
Scrawling her name up on the ceiling
Throw a coin in the fountain of dust
White noise, her ears are ringing
Got a ticket for my midnight hanging
Throw a bullet from a freight train leaving

And I know I'm gonna steal her eye
She doesn't even know it's wrong
And I know I'm gonna make her die
Take her where her soul belongs
Know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl

Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
Bit Rate Variations in B-Flat [Version (b)]:

I saw her, yea I saw her
With her black tongue tied round the roses
A fist pounding on a vending machine
Toy diamond ring stuck on her finger
With a noose she could hang from the sun
And put it out with the dark sunglasses
Walking crooked down the beach
She spits in the sand
Where their bones are bleaching

And I know I'm gonna steal her eye
She doesn't even know what's wrong
And you know I'm gonna make it die
Take her where her soul belongs
Know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl

I saw her, yea I saw her
With her hands tied back
Her rags are burnin'
Crawling out from a landfilled life
Scrawling her name up on the ceiling
Throw a coin in the fountain of dust
White noise, her ears are ringing
Got a ticket for my midnight hanging
Throw a bullet from a freight train leaving

And I know I'm gonna steal her eye
She doesn't even know it's wrong
And you know I'm gonna make it die
Take her where her soul belongs
Know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl

Hey my cyanide girl
Hey my cyanide girl
My cyanide girl
Hey
 
Girl (Junior Senior Remix) [Version (d)]:

I saw her, yea I saw her
With a black tongue tied round the roses
A fist pounding on a vending machine
Toy diamond ring stuck on her finger
With a noose she could hang on the sun
And point it out with the dark sunglasses
Walking crooked down the beach
She spits in the sand
Where their bones are bleaching

And I know I'm gonna make her die
Take her where her soul belongs
I know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
My cyanide girl, hey
My cyanide girl
My cyanide girl, hey
My cyanide girl

I saw her, yea I saw her
With her hands tied back
Her rags are burnin'
Crawling out from a landfilled life
Scrawlin' her name up on the ceiling
Throw a coin in the fountain of dust
White noise, her ears are ringing
Got a ticket for my midnight hanging
Throw a bullet from a freight train leaving

And I know I'm gonna make her die
Take her where her soul belongs
I know I'm gonna steal her eye
Nothing that I wouldn't try
My cyanide girl, hey
My cyanide girl
My cyanide girl, hey
My cyanide girl
 
The Song:

Beck and The Dust Brothers started "Girl" years before Guero (the New York Times reported that it was intended for Midnite Vultures, though the Dust Brothers were not a huge part of that record). John King said that originally, "it was a masterpiece of sound, confusing and all over the place." These early versions went through different lyrics, and had names like "Songy" and "Summer Girl."

It seems though that Beck liked the chorus, so as King described, they "stripped away everything but the keyboard, and a bass we eventually replaced. [King] pulled up a new beat, and something was happening that was infectious, and we felt we could listen to it all day. Beck began jamming acoustic guitar over it."

At the same time though, despite the catchiness, "Girl" has one of the darker lyrics Beck has ever written. Beck's been asked about it a couple of times. Once he started to say it was "happy and romantic," but then immediately changed his mind when he remembered the lyrics. "The lyrics are very dark, so maybe that's not true," he realized. Another time he described it as "supposed to be a romantic song with all this rough imagery, like Bukowski." Looking close at the chorus, it does appear to be a mordern sort of murder ballad at its core.

Asked about the darkness, Beck said,
Originally, the lyrics to 'Girl' were really upbeat, and then it didn't work for me somehow. You need the dichotomy. If you're doing something happy and light, you need the shadows. That was something that the Pixies did so well. Frank Black is a genius at these happy songs, and then you listen to the lyrics and they're based on (Spanish film director Luis) Bunuel films of cows' eyes getting cut.


Beck has referred to the Pixies on this point a couple of times. This dichotomy is what makes the song really interesting. The first verse has roses and diamond rings and the sun and the beach. But looking closer, the diamond ring isn't real, the sun has a noose on it, and bones are bleaching in the sand. These are powerful, striking images of deterioration and almost grotesqueness underneath the reality. It's quite a portrait Beck has painted here.

Also to note, there was an slightly early leak of Guero, a few months before it was released. There were minor differences in the mixes of some of the songs. On "Girl," the early version had a slightly longer intro. The chiptone beeps start 13 seconds into the intro, as opposed to 7 seconds in on the official album. Everything else sounds the same to me.
 
Live:

Played live 276 times:
Earliest known live version: February 5, 2005
Latest known live version: December 9, 2017

As one of his most popular songs, Beck has played "Girl" quite regularly since it was released in 2005.

2005/2006 Guero/Info tours

Naturally, Beck played "Girl" throughout his Guero and Info tours. However, the song sounds very much like the album, maybe just a bit more dramatic in the drums, a few extra instruments to fill things out. The whole band can get into it though, and Beck's little slide guitar solo is always fun to hear live (most of the time it sounds like the record, but every once in awhile he can get a little tangled doing it).

Summer 2006/Spring 2007 end of the Info tours

I'm not sure exactly when this started, or why, but by the end of the summer 2006, Beck started playing short versions of the song. He would do the verse/chorus/verse/chorus and then stop the song, instead of going into the slide guitar part. This lasted through the fall of 2006 as well.

Out of all the times Beck played "Girl" in this time period, most I've heard are the short, fast version. There is one, however, on April 6, 2007 in Tokyo, where the song is extended back again, with the band jamming through the slide guitar part and Beck singing "my cyanide girl" through the end. But really, most are this cut-off Midnight Hanging version.

acoustic version - 10/22/2006

During October 2006, Beck played a number of acoustic-style shows. At one, October 22, he did try "Girl" this way. The electric guitars, computer beeps and normal pounding drums are replaced by acoustic strums and light percussion. Beck sounds really into it, and it comes off very well. It's not a drastic rearrangement, just playing the song as normal, but on acoustic instruments. (It also is cut short, and does not go into the slide guitar part.)

2008/2009 Modern Guilt tours

Beck continued playing "Girl" on the Modern Guilt tour. Arrangement is basically the same as the shortened version, but is sped up a little bit, and is a bit more punk rock. It still stops after the second chorus.

2011-2013 pre-Morning Phase tours

Beck took a few years off from touring (2010/2011) but then in 2012 & 2013, started doing some shows again. "Girl" was played quite regularly in those years too (12 of 15 shows in 2012; 12 of 25 shows in 2013).

2014 - Morning Phase tours

During the Morning Phase tours of 2014, Beck played "Girl" almost nightly (at 51 of his 57 shows). The arrangement matched the record (including Smokey Hormel performing the slide guitar solo), except in two ways. First, the song ended on one chorus (instead of the two on the album). Second, they added 3 synthesizers to an otherwise acoustic performance. Justin moved over and played a synth bass, while Roger and Jason were also adding various synth sounds (Gus and Smokey played acoustic guitars). Beck seemed to really enjoy the song, using the fast groove to dance around the stage a lot while he sang.

2015 & 2016 - post-Morning Phase tours

Beck continues to enjoy "Girl" in his tours of 2015 & 2016. In 2015, it showed up at about a third of the shows, but in 2016, it was at almost all of them. The song really seems to have rooted itself as a "must play" song, alongside things like "Devils Haircut" and "Where It's At." How long will it last?



 
Notes: