Monday, July 1, 2013

The Girl for Me

As promised, once all of Simon's current work has been discussed, this blog returns to the very beginning of Simon's songwriting career.

His very first work, "The Girl for Me" is consists of one unassuming verse, repeated once. In its entirety, the verse is:
"The girl for me
Is standing there.
That's the one
Flowers in her hair.
I always loved her
And I know she'll be true."

He copyrighted it under the name "Jerry Landis," as for a while he and Garfunkel went under the name of "Tom and Jerry." Garfunkel was "Tom Graph." The year: 1955.

From this simple, even simplistic song, one of the great songwriting voyages of all time set sail.

The song does not seem to require much explanation, but it is interesting to note what is not there. Missing is any indication of what it is that makes the girl the one for him-- there is no discussion of her beauty, her wiles, her laugh, or any other attribute.

Perhaps the "flowers in her hair" mark her as demure. Twelve years later, in 1967, the song "San Francisco" contained the lines "If you're going to San Francisco/ Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." Why? To mark oneself as a member of the with-it counterculture, not as a demure wallflower.

No, this girl is passive, just "standing there." What she offers is fidelity, the assumption (not an expressly made promise-- she says nothing at all) that "she'll be true."

The girl is desirable for her passivity, it seems. The flowers, like all plants, cannot move of their own volition. And she would never be motivated to make the ultimate move, to transplant herself to pastures she felt greener.

Simon was 16 when he published this song, which is impressive on its own. Perhaps the song reflected his personal teenage insecurity about having a girlfriend capable of independent action. Or perhaps, he was mimicking the songs he heard on the radio and elsewhere in the Brill Building and felt that a song aimed at a "good girl" would find a likely audience.

It could be about both, in a way. Perhaps the "girl" can be seen as the music industry itself. He wanted to be part of it, as he "always loved" it (what teenager doesn't want to be a pop star?). But he wanted it to hold still while he approached it. He needed it to "be true" and not leave him for another songwriter, should he not be a hit right away.

Luckily (for us as well), Simon's talent (and ambition) were evident to the adult professionals in the office, and they let him stay.

As it turned out, Simon's relationship with his music would prove to be one of his most enduring. He "always loved" it, and it always loved him back.

(This song is on YouTube. Simon plays it for an interviewer, well into his adult career.)

Next Song: Our Song

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