Friday, 29 July 2011

Sandie Shaw - Girl Don't Come (1964/ No. 3/ 12 weeks/ Pye)

This single demonstrates the largely-forgotten value of supa-concision in the construction of pop songs. In only just over two minutes the situation is set up;

"You have a date for half past eight tonight
Some distant bell starts chiming nine
You wanna see her...
You wanna see her, oh yeah!...
So you wait
You wait and wait...
Girl don't come..."

Verse swings into chorus in an instant! Just to rub it in, Shaw then expounds upon what you must be feeling;

"You've been stood up!
Tears fill your eyes! (oh oh oh)
You're hurt inside!
You wanna die! (oh oh oh)"

Yes, thank you, Sandie, that's highly accurate appraisal of the situation.

Something rather marvellous then happens in this song. Years of pop listening have attuned our minds to expect some kind of final act reversal - she turns up, apologising for being late, you see her with another man, that type of thing. Rather more interestingly 'Girl Don't Come' just stops dead. You know that she's not going to come. How much longer shall I stay here waiting? This absence of songwriterly embellishment is actually a lot more true to life, and makes this the definitive song about being stood up.

A word as well about the masterstroke of getting Sandie to sing this in the second person, addressed to a man. How much less engaging this song would be if she had to put personal empathy into singing it about herself. Instead, the rather blank and fierce delivery of a blank-faced striking Dagenham teenage beauty, certainly not overflowing with emotive empathy, accentuates the female inconsideration and harshness of the world as shown in the song.

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