Of the Girl

BinauralMystery surrounds “Of the Girl”. Rumored to have been attempted for inclusion on 1998’s Yield, it instead debuted two years later on the intense though scatterbrained Binaural. Most of its live appearances have been as show starters; rarely if ever has the song been played mid- or late-set. It seems to be used by the band to set a very specific mood, which may explain it’s careful placement both on record and on stage.

It’s one of my very favorite Pearl Jam songs, and arguably the best in their catalog not to feature a Vedder writing credit for either lyrics or music. “Of the Girl” is Pearl Jam at their most evocative. It’s the song that gives my imagination the greatest freedom to roam within its confines–at least soundwise, since I tend to ignore the lyrics. But musically, the band conjures up dark, beautiful atmosphere through vaguely Eastern melodies and instrumentation. Though it’s nowhere to be found in Stone Gossard’s lyrics, I cannot help but picture a train crossing a desert landscape at night, lantern-lit windows sweeping left to right like film. The lead guitar parts were recorded with a fair amount of roomsound, giving them a lot of texture and space. The song is minor key without sounding dire or gloomy, and the emotional restraint in Vedder’s voice wisely keeps him from overpowering a subtle, intricate, unique tune. With the possible exception of “Strangest Tribe” (another Gossard composition), I can’t think of another Pearl Jam song remotely like it.


~ by Michael on April 27, 2007.

6 Responses to “Of the Girl”

  1. I like what you’re doing. Keep it up. You’re wrong about “I’m Still Here” though.

  2. Another great, great song. One of my favorite PJ songs of the 21st century. You hit the nail the coffin, the ambience in ‘Of the Girl’ is what makes this song so palatable to the ear drums. Nice critique!

  3. Of the Girl is an amazing tune. no doubt!! even better live. Mike just makes this song in concert, It was a really good tune on the studio cut, but live just blows it out of the water.

    To me its about a man, a poor man. A man who buys and sells drugs to ‘getaway from the feelings hes feeling. He loved a girl, but chased her away with his drug abuse. all he has left his is thoughts of her and what might have been.

    oh he deals em off, off the top, ties em off
    * drugs in a baggie, ties off the top*
    fills it up, with his past, gets carried away
    *his concentration isnt so good, every time he fills a bag he thinks of her, the choice he made, the path he went down*
    oh half his life, a hand me down, wasted away
    *for years ‘half his life’ hes had to resort to hand me downs, 2nd hand clothes, he doesnt have money, it all goes to drugs, this half of his life has been wasted away*
    of he fills it up, with the love, of a girl
    *his time, his thoughts are consumed thinking about this girl. it comes off as positive, like he doesnt need anything but this girls love, but thats whats detroying him, he cant get his mind off her and the love she once had for him*
    oh he left it alone, drilled the pain, with money to buy
    He left it alone, the situation, he didnt bother with her, didnt try to make this better, work on their problems, he needed to get rid of the pain, and he had money to buy his escape, his getaway*
    how he makes his getaway
    *high, drunk, both*
    how he makes his getaway
    oh he chose a path, heavy the fall, quarter to four
    *he chose the direction to go on, he chose doing and selling drugs, and its a heavy fall when u losse everything and even at 345am he cant shake it*
    fills his night, with the thought, of a girl
    *all he does is think of her, again its consuming his beeing, the path and choice he made its weighing him down*
    how he makes his getaway
    how he makes his getaway
    how he makes his getaway

  4. I never knew “Of the Girl” was recorded during Yield and almost made the record. Very interesting tidbit.

  5. I really like the binaural sound on this one.

  6. Yeah Giannis, you speak the truth my friend, you speak the truth.

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