It’s that little riff at the beginning. So basic, but so right for the song. And that little jangly keyboard.
Jim writes “traditional” verse and chorus lyrics. I find the lyrics intriguing. And there is some…sexual ambiguity going on within “but I’ve got something on my mind / I want you here, I want you now / you better explain”. Is he accusing her of being…a whore? (For want of a better term.) For it continues into chorus “is it true you’re running ’round? / now is it true they’re calling you the Chelsea girl?”
What exactly *is* a Chelsea Girl? A dirty stop-out? A “loose” woman? A floozy? She certainly sounds like one! “Ain’t it strange how people always seem to know your face / but just don’t know your name”. And on… “last night I saw a shooting star / when morning comes / she hides away / a real disgrace”.
In recent times the “she hides away” line has been dropped, to give more emphasis to the “a real disgrace” line.
But never mind…he wants her all the same… “ooh, Chelsea Girl / you got me caught up in a whirl / I want you here now Chelsea Girl”.
Dirty boy! Lol
There is such a lot of simple but fantastic guitar work from Charlie on this. Fret walks (I’m no musician, so that’s my way of saying his guitar solo runs up and back down the fret board), two chord riffs…all killer work.
An early Kerr/Burchill masterpiece.
But…it has been this most recent tour and the acoustic version that really has made me fall in love with it.
Firstly: Cherisse Osei’s drum work on it – fucking wow! OUT OF THE PARK! It now has as much of a drum solo on it as it does a guitar solo. I would always find my eyes diverting away from Jim, not to watch Charlie at work, but to watch Cherisse just bang her biceps off. Just…off the scale good!
Secondly: Jim’s subtle changes to the lyrics from gig to gig. Little things like the line changing to “ain’t it strange how people always seem to know your *pretty, pretty* face”. I am wonderfully intrigued as to why he decided to drop the “she hides away” line. I’d ask him…but would fear I’d be deemed a pest…and after the whole “Life In Oils”…saga, I really would not want to risk the assumption of impertinence by asking. Now I seem to have somewhat…recouped any good feelings I felt I lost during the past few months.
Maybe one day…
It’s just…a feel good song. On the tour, it was really the song I felt I had to get up and dance and sing to. I would be SSOOO miffed when it happened at some of the gigs I was at, that bums firmly stayed rooted to seats. At the first Dublin gig, I think I stayed seated…but I was fucking itching…champing at the bit to get up! So for the second show…I just wasn’t having that! I didn’t “toe the line”. I got up and I was just…in heaven! Ridiculously self-conscious, of course! I was right by the Toblerone ladies (who were standing up as well, of course) and I was sticking out like a sore thumb. Jim would not have missed me! But I didn’t care. It was probably going to be the last time I’d see it performed like that, and I wanted to “have it”!…if you get what I mean? To just…live in it and feel it and express back the joy it had given me hearing it like that.
So yes, during the Acoustic Tour, the appreciation I gained for this song was…immense. I think I recorded it on the tour twice…I think. Perhaps only the once…oh, but at Colston Hall. The gig I was closest to the stage at. What a night that was!
Given Jim’s post some time back about writing Chelsea Girl with Charlie at his house, his mum coming home from the cake shop and having leftover strawberry tarts for Jim and Charlie to scoff, perhaps that’s what our Chelsea Girl should be known as? A “strawberry tart”? 😉
I must admit that when I walk past cake shops and see Chelsea buns in the window, it always starts playing in my head. Lol
In summary: the guitar work of Mr Burchill…the gold dust Kerr lyrics…it just works. It’s a perfect little encapsulated gem.
And that is why I love…Chelsea Girl.