What It’s All About
Felix Cavaliere starts off the underrated Rascals track “A Girl Like You” singing …
I don’t know what it’s all about
Then he proceeds to pile up a mountain of evidence to the contrary.
A word about videos in my music posts:
True concept or performance music videos are not available for many older songs, such as the song featured in this post, “A Girl Like You” by the Rascals. In such cases I embed a “video” where available, even if it is just a still photo with audio or, as in this case, a slide show with audio, because it is the easiest way to provide access to the full-length track as streaming media.
So many of the songs from my formative years are love songs. Indeed, love was the favorite topic of hit records back in 1967 when “Girl” rose to number 10 on the US pop chart (number one in Canada) for the band, then known as The Young Rascals. I’ve been a long-time fan of Cavaliere’s soulful vocals, and he’s at his demonstrative best on “Girl”.
He waxes poetically about his new love. No interpretive skills are necessary. Even I have no trouble getting it.
Must be you that caused this feelin’ in me. (Must be you.)
You that fills me confidently, (Must be you.)
You that brings out the best in me.
You … nobody but you.
Cavaliere is on a romantic bender — and he wants to make sure the object of his affection knows it. He co-wrote “Girl”, by the way, with another band member, Eddie Brigati.
But lyrics aside, this post wouldn’t exist if not for my fondness for the music of “Girl”. It’s kind of an orchestral pop. I detect trumpet, French horn, trombone, flute — even a harp; listen for the two dramatic strums at about 2:07 in the video.
The track features well-executed tempo and loudness changes driven by horns and drums. There’s almost a Vegas-y feel to “Girl” but there’s enough of the pop sensibility of the day, not to mention Cavaliere’s un-Vegas-like vocal performance, to prevent the track from becoming too schmaltzy. Matthew Greenwald, from his review of “Girl” on AllMusic.com:
Opening with a gentle, almost classical piano line, the song quickly shifts into a beautiful swing arrangement before exploding into a powerful big-band feel on the choruses. Drummer Dino Danelli’s performance is nothing short of spectacular here.
(Greenwald’s review erroneously claims the single “went Top Five”.)
And what did I say about the lyrics? Greenwald:
Lyrically, the exuberance of love has rarely been told in a more elegant and east [sic] to relate to fashion.
The Rascals were one of best and most successful American bands of that era. Among their other big hits are the classic “Good Lovin'” , their signature tune “Groovin'”, the topical, horn-punctuated “People Got to Be Free”, and the contemplative “How Can I Be Sure”. In 1968, soon after the release of their fourth album, the Rascals released Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits, and it scaled the US album chart summit. “Girl” appeared originally on their third album, Groovin’, and is included on Time Peace as well.
“Girl” had its chart run in the summer of 1967. I believe that is exactly when I started listening to Top 40 radio in earnest. I was 10 at the time. I wonder if I give extra favor to songs that were popular at that particular time. I suspect I do.