Friday, March 26, 2010

Life Never Got Better for Poor Georgy Girl

The 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.”

EDIT: This post originally said the song was by The New Seekers. It’s not; it’s by The Seekers.


  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!

  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!

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

  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.

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

  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").

  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]"

  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.

  9. Anonymous9:23 PM

    That catchy tune was in my head one morning out of nowhere. That night the movie played on tv, what a coincidence. I took it as a sign to go forward with my life and not worry over every little thing. I'm not dowdy by any means but still have self doubts. I found it to be an inspirational song reminding me to believe in myself.

  10. Anonymous9:42 PM

    the catchy tune was playing in my head one morning out of nowhere and it just so happened it was on TV that night. Rather than a put down I took it as affirmation that I had a lot to offer. I am not dowdy by any means but can certainly move more towards my potential as a person.

  11. Anonymous9:01 AM

    I agree that the lyrics that the Seekers sing on their hit record is very positive. The song encourages Georgy -- "don't be scared," -- "it's time for jumping down from the shelf," -- to "bring out all the love" that she hides. If you notice at the beginning, it is saying that Georgy walks around "fancy free" but actually nobody realizes how lonely she is. The lyrics ask her to take responsibility for her loneliness - "could it be you just don't try?" Nowhere in the Seekers' lyrics does it say that Georgy "looks like shit." She is a beautiful person but she is not letting anyone see that beauty. I think you are stuck on the lyrics that question "or is it the clothes you wear?" Perhaps the song is suggesting that George purposely wears "dowdy" feathers (clothes) on purpose - perhaps to insulate her from forming positive, happy relationships. She wraps herself in a cocoon so nobody will notice her - but then she is unhappy and lonely. I think any rational person might agree that a cocoon isn't that wonderful....but the butterfly that emerges is a very beautiful creature. "Life is a reality, you can't always run away" ---the song tells her that there is life out there and she needs to go and live it because deep down she is such a wonderful, beautiful person. I do hate some of the other lyrics that appear in the movie version, but the lyrics used in the hit single by the Seekers is a positive message, not a negative one.

  12. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Found this site while looking for the film lyrics.
    Immediately pissed off. The first three words are factually incorrect. The New Seekers did not record this. It was The Seekers. As always under similar circumstances I have to question the entire article - What else did you get wrong?

  13. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Movie song,
    Commercial song,
    All different, neither dependent on the other.

  14. The lyrics are inspirational, not negative... They are about getting someone out of their shell to experience the world around them.

  15. There is nothing mean about it. Quit believing in freedom of speech and expression if your don't like it and change the charter or are you just a troublemaker complaining about the beautiful song that does not say she was homely. A georgy girl is not homely, just short for Georgina or Georgette, etc. We must appreciate the not-so-good-looking gals, because they help us appreciate the good-looking gals more just like an overweight woman helps us adore the skinnier ones more. Apply this to all things in life and you will stop hating all things, then we can stamp out all evil and shut down satan, the lord of destruction. I'm working on it! Have hope for the near future, we will find a way to stop the bad news coming.

  16. The lyrics of the original version are not negative. What this blogger called mean were the lyrics for movie version, and I agree with him. The problem I have with the original version is that it implies that Georgy girl can't attract men possibly because of her frumpy clothes. Most likely her problems with men go well beyond wardrobe and the solution suggested to shed her dowdy feathers and fly is not going to result in the promised positive change into a new Georgy girl. She is going to need a lot more than that. In my opinion it is not inspirational as it does not offer an effective resolution to a well defined problem. Another thing is the line "you're always window shopping but never stopping to buy" implies that she actively dates men casually but is not willing to commit, which obviously does not describe a girl who can't attract men at all. What this song has going for it is that it is a bouncy catchy tune which is beautifully sung by an outstanding female vocalist Linda Durham. The lyrics leave much to be desired.