September 24, 2006

Old Love: Matthew Sweet: "Girlfriend"

Girlfriend 1991Do you remember when I did that little post on The Shins song, "Kissing The Lipless"? That was about a song I knew, but when I heard it again, after a long period, realized how great it was. This time around it's a little different… I hadn't heard this Matthew Sweet song in quite a while, but I had always, and still do, think it's great. So, here's that post about "Girlfriend".

When you listen to the live radio version and the partially acoustic version of Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" you can easily hear the swingy, bluesy roots of the blistering and chugging version that Sweet cut for his album of the same name, 1991's Girlfriend. This song has long been a favourite of mine and I can still remember how surprised I was when I learned that Richard Lloyd, Tom Verlaine's compadre on guitar in the seminal New York band, Television, was the man behind the calloused fingers on the guitar neck. Pleasantly surprised, as Television is the band I would eventually list as my all-time favourite when pressed to do so (I dislike, intensely, having to choose a favourite anything, just as I dislike making 'Best Of' lists), but this one would likely be my pick. So, yeah, Lloyd is the prime motivator of this track coming ahead of (I think) Ric Menck's drumming, but just by a nose. I know of no other song that could inspire me, drunk or otherwise, to play air guitar and air drums… at the same time.

Matthew SweetSo, you're listening and by some strange happenstance you have never heard this song, or Matthew Sweet. Oh, so young and so sheltered, you must go out and find this album. If you are struck with dumb luck you may find it in your local used CD shop, although it is without a doubt worth purchasing new (you can't miss the electric fuzz and scrap of guitars and bashing drums of "I've Been Waiting"). On the cover is a photo of fifties actress, Tuesday Weld, and within are songs by Sweet doing his damndest to find a girlfriend through the power of song. Did he succeed? I'm not sure; the answer may be on the follow-up release to Girlfriend, Altered Beast (1993). Sweet is known as a twisted pop-smith, but one who shapes his songs in studio, he's capable of playing the studio as well, or better than, the guitar he holds in his hands. He reminds me of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham, in that regard, minus the flagrant aural neuroticism of course. Here are three, make that four, versions (including the demo) of Sweet's song, "Girlfriend"… I love this song.

+ girlfriend (album version)
+ girlfriend (live radio session – KBCO)
+ girlfriend (alternate take w/acoustic guitar)
+ good friend (demo of "Girlfriend")

Sweet has a new record coming soon entitled, Rock Bottom. You can hear brief glimpses of it on his myspace page here.

Matthew Sweet Discography
Inside (1986, Columbia/Legacy)
Earth (1989, A&M)
Girlfriend (1991, Zoo)
Altered Beast (1993, Zoo)
Son Of Altered Beast (1994, Zoo)
100% Fun (1995, Zoo)
Blue Sky On Mars (1997, Zoo)
In Reverse (1999, Volcano)
Living Things (2004, RCAM)
Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu (2004, RCAM)
Time Capsule: The Best of Matthew Sweet (2000, Volcano)
To Understand: The Early Recordings of Matthew Sweet (2002, Hip-O)


  1. I dig the new Sixeyes, well done

  2. Anonymous11:54:00 AM

    Robert Quine, RIP, one of the great guitarists of the 20th Century, played the leads on "Girlfriend." Richard Lloyd, also a stunning musician, did not, but he did play on "Sick of Myself" and several others. Minutiae: the underrated Ivan Julian, Quine's compadre in the Voidoids, played on the tour supporting 100% Fun.