The Beatles, “Another Girl” from Help! (1965): Deep Beatles

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One of the most memorable moments from the Beatles’ film Help!, the “Another Girl” sequence provides the template for the modern music video with its vivid colors, quick cuts, exotic locale, and hints of sex. Yet underneath the bouncy tempo and twanging lead guitar lies a darker meaning: instead of a straightforward love song, Paul McCartney penned a song filled with aggression and a cavalier attitude toward commitment. While he praises his new love, he derides his previous girlfriend and sums up his attitude in one line: “I ain’t no fool and I don’t take what I don’t want.”

In Barry Miles’ Many Years from Now, McCartney explains that he composed the song while on vacation in Tunisia. He wrote the lyrics and music in the bathroom of a private villa, due to its optimal acoustics. “Another Girl” was not released as a single, but McCartney resisted calling it merely album “filler.” “I think they were a bit more than that, and each one of them made it past the Beatles test,” McCartney told Miles. “We all had to like it. If anyone didn’t like one of our songs it was vetoed. It could be vetoed by one person. If Ringo said, ‘I don’t like that one,’ we wouldn’t do it — or we’d have to really persuade him.”

Recording began on February 15, 1965, a marathon session that produced not only “Another Girl” but “Ticket to Ride” and “I Need You.” The lineup featured Paul McCartney on lead vocals, bass, and lead guitar; John Lennon on backing vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar; George Harrison on backing vocals and electric rhythm guitar; and Ringo Starr, of course, on drums. Amazingly the Beatles completed the basic track in only one take, then overdubbed lead and harmony vocals. Harrison attempted to record a tremolo-heavy guitar riff that would conclude the song.

According to Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, take seven of ten was deemed best, although they later dropped Harrison’s part in a subsequent mix. On February 16, McCartney overdubbed an additional guitar part, and his version of George Harrison’s ending flourish appears on the final cut.

As with other Help! songs, “Another Girl” illustrates how the Beatles were experimenting with song structure. Similar to the title track, “Another Girl” begins with an abridged version of the chorus. “For I have got another girl,” McCartney sings, pitching his voice slightly lower. This sudden beginning crashes through the speakers, the lead guitar riff bookending the title phrase.

After Harrison and Lennon harmonize with McCartney on the two words, McCartney once again uses a lower register to croon a rather unromantic sentiment: “You’re making me say that I’ve got nobody but you. But as from today, well, I’ve got somebody that’s new.” His double-tracked voice flatly proclaims that he will not be tied down, emphasized by the machismo-filled line “I ain’t no fool and I don’t take what I don’t want.” Clearly the narrator has assumed control of the relationship and has bluntly stated his intentions — take them or leave them.

Paul McCartney essentially flaunts his new love to his girlfriend, claiming that “she’s sweeter than all the girls” and that “nobody in all the world can do what she can do.” These may appear as proclamations of love, stating that this new lover is sweet. The sentiment’s impact is negated, however, by the subsequent line clarifying that he has “met quite a few.”

Curiously, the song briefly pivots away from this somewhat callous assessment of relationships. As “Another Girl” rises in key (and George Harrison and John Lennon add their vocals, increasing the volume and emotional intensity), McCartney states that this girl “will love me to the end — through thick and thin.” Note, however, that he adds that “she will always be my friend,” suggesting that he does not share the woman’s apparent love for him. “Another Girl” quickly returns to the dispassionate tone of the first verse, claiming that while the narrator is not necessarily unhappy with his current relationship, “as from today, well, I’ve seen somebody that’s new.” Repeating the “I ain’t no fool” line, he lays down his terms for a relationship: no firm commitments.

Sonically, “Another Girl” benefits from the slight echo effect on Paul McCartney’s voice, which underscores the narrator’s dominance in the relationship. Ringo Starr utilizes a country-western style shuffling drumming pattern, slightly reminiscent of another Help! track, “Act Naturally.” While McCartney’s piercing lead guitar punctuates key phrases throughout the track, Lennon’s acoustic rhythm guitar also plays a prominent role, further foreshadowing the folk-rock sound of Rubber Soul. Interestingly the song breaks from traditional structure by eliminating an expected element: the guitar solo.

Thematically, “Another Girl” is a departure from earlier, overtly romantic tracks like “P.S. I Love You” or “And I Love Her.” By 1965, the Beatles had rapidly developed as songwriters, adding complexity to their lyrics and expressing anguish, doubt, confusion, and disillusionment in romantic relationships.

The Beatles first fully explored these themes on Beatles for Sale in such tracks as “No Reply,” “I”m A Loser” and “What You’re Doing.” Rubber Soul, their next album, would find the group completely immersing themselves in further lyrical experimentation, with “You Won’t See Me,” “Think for Yourself,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Norwegian Wood,” and the incredibly dark “Run for Your Life” as prime examples.

“Another Girl” proves another step in their artistic development as they turn conventional love song content and traditional structures of pop songs on their heads.

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Kit O'Toole
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