Song of the Week – Back Street Girl, The Rolling Stones; Quicksilver Girl, The Steve Miller Band

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

Today’s post is the second installment of my recent concept called the Contrast Series.  This time I’ll share my views on “Back Street Girl” by the Rolling Stones and “Quicksilver Girl” by the Steve Miller Band.

Let’s start with “Back Street Girl.”

“Back Street Girl” was on the Stones’ UK version of Between the Buttons (1967).  But in the US it was on FlowersFlowers was one of those rip-off albums that compiled Stones tracks that were left off UK studio albums to create an “extra” album here in the US – much like the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today.  But IMHO, the album hangs together pretty well on its own.

Musically, “Back Street Girl” is a sweet little song!  It is basically an acoustic folk number, featuring acoustic guitar, accordion (played by Nick de Caro), and percussion (tambourine) in waltz time.

Lyrically… hmmm.  It fits into the misogynist category of several early Stones’ songs like “Under My Thumb” and “Stupid Girl” among others.  It tells the story of a mistress that Jagger wants to use but not acknowledge.

Please don’t be part of my life
Please keep yourself to yourself
Please don’t you bother my wife
That way you won’t get no help

Please don’t you call me at home
Please don’t come knocking at night
Please never ring on the phone
Your manners are never quite right

Don’t want you part of my world
Just you be my backstreet girl

Pretty harsh!

Let’s take a listen to “Quicksilver Girl.”

It too is a gentle ballad.  This one has an electric guitar and percussion but, like “Back Street Girl”, essentially no drums.  But lyrically, it couldn’t be more different.  In the Steve Miller Band’s song, the quicksilver girl is respected and appreciated for all that she does for her lover.

If you need a little lovin’
She’ll turn on the heat
If you take a fall
She’ll put you back on your feet
If you’re all alone
She’s someone to meet
If you need someone

She’s a quicksilver girl
A lover of the world
She spreads her wings
And she’s free

I don’t know who it was written about, but in my imagination, it was for a woman like the fictional Penny Lane from Almost Famous.  In the memoir called Last Girl Standing (2017), underground, feminist cartoonist, and “Lady of the Canyon”, Trina Robbins claims it was written about a couple of 15-year-old runaways from Sausalito that David Crosby asked her to let crash at her pad for a while.  One of those young ladies, Julia “Girl” Brigden, was later married to David Freiberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, so it all makes sense.

The song was used in the film “The Big Chill” but, for the life of me, I can’t remember which scene.  Rickie Lee Jones did a nice cover version on her Kicks album (2019).

Enjoy… until next week.