Friday, March 26, 2010

Life Never Got Better for Poor Georgy Girl

The New Seekers’ “Georgy Girl” is probably one of the meanest-spirited songs ever and is certainly one of the meanest-spirited ones to be nominated for the Academy Award. I wrote about it before on this blog, noting that despite its perky tune, it essentially works as a personal attack on the title character, a dowdy girl whose miserable life apparently results from the fact that she looks like shit. Or so say the singers.

Here’s the song, in case you haven’t yet had the pleasure:



Since I put up the “Georgy Girl” post, I actually watched the Georgy Girl movie on TCM, partly because I like Charlotte Rampling, who costars, and partly because I wanted to find out why this awful (but catchy) song exists. In the movie, Lynn Redgrave plays the title character. She doesn’t look like shit, exactly, but she’s not pretty. In the end she inherits the baby abandoned by her wanton flatmate (Rampling) and gets hitched to her father’s employer, a rich man whose awful wife has recently died. The end. Clearly, it’s a map girls today can follow to personal fulfillment. The best part about the movie, however, was the final scene, in which Georgy steps into her “Just Married!”-mobile and a few more verses of the song play. Same band, same tune, and same hateful attitude — only instead of kicking Georgy when she’s down, it actually attempts to tear at her even though she’s managed to cobble the scraps of her life into something.

Watch the clip, if only to remind yourself that it can always go further downhill:



The lyrics, for the impatient or hearing-impaired:
Hey there, Georgy girl
Pretty as a picture — told you so
Can it be the Georgy we all know?
Or somebody new?
(I wonder!)

Hey there, Georgy girl
Hurrying away to celebrate
Got yourself a man but wait!
There’s somebody else for you
[Note if you skip the video: The “somebody else” is the baby — the one that she didn’t actually give birth to, let me remind you — being handed to her through the car window like a burger at a drive-thru.]
Who needs a perfect lover
When you’re a mother at heart?
Isn’t that all you wanted right from the start?
(Well didn’t you?)

Hey there, Georgy girl
Now that you’re no longer on the shelf
Better try to smile and tell yourself
That you got your way
(You’ve made it!)

Hey there, Georgy girl
Now you’ve got a future planned for you
Though it’s not a dream come true
At least he’s a millionaire
So don’t despair!
You’re rich, Georgy Girl!
You’re rich, Georgy Girl!
You’re rich, Georgy Girl!
Yes, pretty awful. As far as radio play is concerned, I guess it makes sense that these verses were omitted from the final cut of the song. In the end, their absence keeps the popular edit of “Georgy Girl” from being overly awful. As it stands now, the single is just awful enough. I’m consoled just a little that “Georgy Girl” didn’t win the Oscar that year, but I have mixed feelings that the song that one is “Born Free.”

8 comments:

  1. I'm grinning from ear to ear about your commentary. I LOVE this song, but never thought about it that way! On the other hand (reaching, but still...)it's oddly realistic in the sense that she didn't get a ridiculous makeover, turn into Charlotte Rampling, marry Cary Grant and have a typical happy ending-she's still Georgie Girl, with a crying baby but a decent enough husband. The heck with that horrible room mate!

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  2. One of the commenters on that first YouTube videos said that he or she named his or her kid after this song. I guess she never payed attention to the lyrics!

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  3. Hey there, Blimpy Boy, flying through the sky so fancy free!

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  4. Rob: Overall, the movie sends a better message than the song. And I'm sure the writer of the song meant well, but...

    God: God, that's hilarious.

    Nathan: That Simpsons line is actually my first awareness of this song.

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  5. It was the same way with me, actually.

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  6. Anonymous6:58 AM

    Just watched this movie on TCM today, nearly a year after your post. Must say I had a different reaction. It reminded me of the conclusion of "The Graduate," where Benjamin and Elaine, now on the bus, Elaine in her wedding dress and veil, realize that after apparently getting what they wanted, the future is nevertheless tinged with bleakness and uncertainty - as all futures are. The thought is reflected only in their faces and the soundtrack ("Hello Darkness").

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  7. Anonymous12:15 AM

    I too just watched the movie on TCM. I remember the song from when I was a kid but I'd never seen the movie, nor even realized the link. I was astonished by how the lyrics commented on or summarized the story. And then came the last refrains! I couldn't believe my ears- so cynical!

    The movie itself doesn't implies that Georgy was looking to get set up for life with a millionaire or wanted to be rich. Rather, the millionaire was persistent and she finally agreed, mostly to provide for her new child. In some ways, it's a different turn on the "Sabrina" plot - servant's daughter hooks up with boss, complicated by triangle(s).

    Amazingly, the person responsible for those lyrics is Jim Dale.
    "English actor, voice artist, singer and songwriter... best known in the United Kingdom for his many appearances in the Carry On series of films and in the US for narrating the Harry Potter audiobook series, for which he received two Grammy Awards, and the ABC series Pushing Daisies. In the 1970s Dale was a member of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company.[1]"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Dale

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  8. Anonymous9:15 PM

    You all have absolutely the wrong take on the song. The song is exhorting Georgy to jump 'down from the shelf'... because... Could it be you just don't try or is it the clothes you wear? Never do they say she's ugly or anything but... saying Don't be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself. It's the MOVIE that puts her down, it's the MOVIE that's mean. You can look at the song as saying she's actually beautiful but in hiding. There's another Georgy deep inside
    Bring out all the love you hide and, oh, what a change there'd be
    The world would see a new Georgy girl. Bias and ranting just doesn't support your put down of the song. Try to think positive... since that's what the song is saying.

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