Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Shirelles - Foolish Little Girl

I want to take this moment to discuss "Foolish Little Girl" by the Shirelles. There are a few things that stand out about this song. First, I'm always a sucker for descending melodies, in this case it's a minor chord arpeggio that resolves into a major scale. Second, I love the organ sound.

Most notably, though, I really like how there are two voices here. Not just two voices but two opposing attitudes. The first is the one who's doing all the scolding---she's the realist, the wise one, etc., and the other one is the naive girl who insists, "But I love him... I still love him." It's not even much of a dialogue... the foolish little girl never changes----she skips along quite merrily past the fade out. The thing that really makes the little girl's part work is the resemblance of her drawn out "But I..." to childlike babbling "ba-da." I don't believe this is merely a coincidence.

It's worth comparing the voices in "Foolish Little Girl" to "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story, especially during the bridge when Maria sings "La-la-la" while her friends speculate on the reason for her "madness."

And if you'll permit me to talk about my own work, I have tried something similar on "Twenty-Five" which was recorded quite nicely by my Oakland band. The idea behind that song is the clashing of innocence ("25 is just a number") and experience ("I'm getting old"). In that song, however, Molly is playing a most wise little girl, not unlike the one in William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven."

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