Haley’s Poetic Playlist: “I Need My Girl”

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Hey guys! It’s Thursday, so that means it’s time for the next song in my Poetic Playlist series! This one is short and sweet…well, actually it’s a tad bitter. But it’s a beautiful, mellow contrast to last week’s in-your-face obnoxiousness.

This week I’ll be looking at The National’s song, “I Need My Girl.”

“I Need My Girl”

[Verse 1]

“I am good, I am grounded
Davy says that I look taller
I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I need my girl
I need my girl”

The first verse opens with a very vulnerable, self-conscious narrator, who seems to be reassuring himself that he is better now. It seems as though he made a big mistake and is trying to prove that he is better now. The slant rhyme of “grounded”/”around it,” and then exact rhymes of “taller”/ “smaller,” add a certain poetic air to the opening stanza.

The desperation of the narrator is unapologetic and blunt almost to the point of embarrassment when he comes out and repeatedly says that he needs “[his] girl.” The contrast between people like Davy, telling him he looks taller when in reality he feels as though he is shrinking, is a beautiful and raw image that I think a lot of people can relate to while they listen to this song.

[Verse 2]

“Remember when you lost your shit and
Drove the car into the garden
You got out and said I’m sorry
To the vines and no one saw it
I need my girl
I need my girl”

On a biased note, I absolutely love this verse. I think it is gorgeous in its ability to pack so many emotions and so much of the story into a short, four-line anecdote. The destruction that humans are capable of in the blink of an eye is really evident in this stanza. Couple that with the gentleness and compassion of this woman, who is obviously ashamed of what she has done, despite the fact that no one even noticed.

I love that these lines touch on how truly alone a person can feel even at their worst. And the rhythmic repetition of “I need my girl” further emphasizes the obsessive desire of someone who cannot accept that the person they loved is permanently absent from their life.

[Chorus]

“I’m under the gun again
I know I was a 45 percenter then
I know I was a lot of things
But I am good, I am grounded
Davy says that I look taller
I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I need my girl
I need my girl”

This chorus brings in the pressure that the narrator is feeling, which helps explain his need for this girl of his — in times of desperation, we as humans like the idea of comfort that only someone we love can give us. The second line exposes the narrator’s faults when he admits that he was a “45 percenter then,” most likely a phrase to explain that in the past he did not put much effort into the relationship. He knows what he did but is willing to try again and get it right this time. He also admits he was a lot of other things. This ambiguity allows listeners to fill in whatever adjectives they might have called an ex, which allows this chorus to be a lot more relatable.

[Verse 3]

“There’s some things that I should never
Laugh about in front of family
I’ll try to call you from the party
It’s full of punks and cannonballers
I need my girl
I need my girl”

I like these first two lines because they express the intimacy of a relationship. He can’t joke about certain things around his family like he could with his girl. So, out of old habit, he tries to call her from the party and tell her about the “punks” and “cannonballers,” which I see as symbols for disrespectful impersonators and showoffs. And again, the repetition is continued.

[Chorus]

Overall, this is a pretty straightforward song/poem. I value its simplicity down to the repeated guitar riffs and stripped vocals. It is an easily relatable song that can leave you lost in your own thoughts. I like that there are little whimsical moments in the song, with its made-up words sprinkled throughout, and I appreciate its clear message.

— Haley Renison, Poetry Editor

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