Jessie's Girl

Album: Working Class Dog (1981)
Charted: 43 1
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  • Who is Jessie's girl? We may never know, but in a Songfacts interview with Rick Springfield, he told the story. Said Rick: "I don't know her name. It was a brief relationship I had when I was making stained glass for a while. I was going to a stained glass class in Pasadena, and I met this guy and his girlfriend. I was completely turned on to his girlfriend, but she was just not interested. So I had a lot of sexual angst, and I went home and wrote a song about it. Then about four months later I stopped going to the class and lost contact with them. The only thing I remember is his name was Gary, so I changed the name, because 'Gary' didn't sing very well. But the whole thing is absolutely what I was feeling. He was getting it and I wasn't, and it was really tearing me up."

    "Sexual angst is an amazing motivator to write a song," he added. "Actually, Oprah's people tried to find her, and they got as far back as finding the stained glass guy. I couldn't remember his name, but I said it was late '70s. They found him, and he had died two years earlier, and they'd thrown all his papers out a year after that. So we missed finding out who she was by a year."
  • This song was a runaway hit that seemed to come out of nowhere, but Springfield, a native of Australia who split time growing up between that country and England, had spent the previous 10 years grinding away as both a singer and actor. In 1971 he had a moderate hit with his first single, "Speak To The Sky." A year later he moved to America and released four albums from 1972-1976, none of which got much attention. He started acting and landed guest roles on TV staples like The Six Million Dollar Man and Wonder Woman. 1981 was his breakout year: In February he released the Working Class Dog album, and a month later he started appearing on the soap opera General Hospital in a regular role as Dr. Noah Drake.

    "Jessie's Girl" started climbing the charts soon after, bolstered by his popularity on General Hospital. It became one of the biggest hits of the year and one of most enduring and best-loved songs from the '80s.
  • "Jessie's Girl" was the #1 song in the United States when MTV launched on August 1, 1981. The video became a favorite on the fledgling network, which was thrilled to have a well-produced promo for a very popular contemporary hit with the guitar as lead instrument (most of their library was filled with synthy acts like Human League and A Flock Of Seagulls).

    In the video, the photogenic Springfield uses his acting skills to portray his angst. Springfield says it's his only video where he took creative control, storyboarding it himself. The scene where he smashes the mirror remains an iconic clip; it was the most expensive part of the video, since Rick estimates they went through 24 mirrors.
  • That's Pat Benatar's producer-guitarist-husband Neil Giraldo on guitar; he also played bass on the track. He came up with the solo after the rest of the track was complete in a bit of improvisation.

    Keith Olsen, a producer on the Working Class Dog album, was the connection: He had produced Benatar's Crimes Of Passion album in 1980.
  • Note that Springfield really was trying to move in on another guy's girlfriend, providing him with inspiration for this song. He admits to being a doofus in those days, which manifests in his songs that trace an arc to the woman who had to deal with it: Barbara Porter, his wife since 1984. They were dating when Rick became a pop star, and he cheated on her when he went on tour. That's what "Don't Talk To Strangers," the first single from his next album, Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, is about. Later on, many of his songs deal with their struggle to hold their marriage together, which they somehow did. They were near divorce in the early '00s, as documented on his 2004 album Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance.

    In his chat with Songfacts, Rick talked about his unenlightened attitude toward women in his younger years. "I remember being a jerk because I thought that's what girls wanted," he said. "You only really learn about women when you get into a long relationship, unless you got a really great dad – a really clued-in father – or a really open mom."
  • You'd think that label executives who get paid to identify hit songs would know that "Jessie's Girl" should be the lead single from the album, but they went with "I've Done Everything For You," a cover of a Sammy Hagar song. That one went nowhere, but "Jessie's Girl" was issued next and took off. "Love Is Alright Tonite" followed, and then "I've Done Everything For You" was re-released, this time going to #8 in the US.
  • The Working Class Dog album was recorded at Sound City Studios in Los Angeles at a time when some huge records were being made there, including Crimes Of Passion by Pat Benatar and Hard Promises by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Springfield has a special connection to the studio: It's where he met his wife Barbara.
  • Springfield is a dog lover and put his bull terrier Ronnie on the cover of the album dressed in a tie and white shirt like he's ready to go to the office. Ronnie also got the cover of the next album, Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, this time dressed like smarmy playboy in the back of a limo with two poodles for companionship.

    When Rick launched his independent label, Gomer, he named it after his mixed-breed rescue dog.
  • Early in the 2004 movie 13 Going On 30, the 13-year-old version of the main character kisses the screen when this video comes on MTV. It was also used in these films:

    Boogie Nights (1997)
    Keeping the Faith (2000)
    The Year of Getting to Know Us (2008)
    Couples Retreat (2009)
    Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

    And these TV shows:

    Dawson's Creek ("Highway to Hell" - 2002)
    Angel ("Unleashed" - 2003)
    Cold Case ("Lover's Lane" - 2004)
    Californication ("Comings and Goings" - 2009)
    Two and a Half Men ("Something My Gynecologist Said" - 2012)
    Master of None ("Parents" - 2015)
    Once Upon a Time ("An Untold Story" - 2016)
    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia ("The Gang Hits the Slopes" - 2016)
  • Steve Antin, in one of his first screen appearances, played Jessie in the video. In 1982, he played a similar role in the '80s teen comedy/drama The Last American Virgin (as the coldhearted character "Rick"). He later played Troy in The Goonies.
  • Springfield began acting in the mid-'70s after his then-girlfriend, actress Linda Blair, suggested he try it. When Springfield and Blair were dating, she was just 15 years old while he was 25. They only lived together for one year, and in an interview on VH1's Behind the Music, Blair said, "He's someone I'll always love."

    Springfield says that of all his former girlfriends, Blair is the only one he remains friends with. Remember that this was 1974, when standards were a little more relaxed. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dawn - Highlands Ranch, CO
  • "Jessie's Girl" returned to the charts when the cast of the TV series Glee performed it in the 2010 episode "Laryngitis." Their version went to #23 in the US.
  • In the category of weird covers, this song was covered by The Chipmunks, using the same instrumental backing track, no less. Check out their 1982 album Chipmunk Rock if you just have to have it.
  • When Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters made the 2013 documentary Sound City about the studio, Springfield was a big part of the project. He appears in the film and several of his songs are used including "Jessie's Girl." After the film hit theaters, Springfield joined Grohl and others featured in the film (including John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick) for a tour billed as the "Sound City Players." As you can imagine, "Jessie's Girl" was a highlight of these shows.

Comments: 38

  • Ignacio Varga from AlbuquerqueIn concerts, does he open with this song or save it for the encore? What about an acoustic version in the middle? And does he do the show with or without a shirt on?
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenProbably the only song ever to include the word "moot."
  • Brian Kent from Laurel, MdNeil Giraldo (husband and lead guitarist for Pat Benatar) played guitar and bass on the Jessie's Girl track. Story has it Keith Olsen a ProducerEngineer at Sound City Studios didn't like the way Rick Springfield played guitar so instead, asked Neil to play. Rick Springfield wasn't thrilled with the choice but wanted to do anything that made his album better.
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaIf he was wanting to be Gary's girl, then he was actually hot for Gary/Jessie, not the girl!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 23rd 1981, Rick Springfield performed "Jessie's Girl" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Two months earlier on March 22nd, 1981 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #81; and on July 26th, 1981 it peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) and spent over a half-year on the Top 100 (32 weeks, and for 12 of those 32 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    It was the #1 record when MTV debuted on August 1st, 1981...
    And on August 31st, 1981 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Australian Kent Music Report chart...
    The song won the Grammy Award for 'Best Male Rock Vocal Performance'...
    Between 1972 and 1982 he had ten Top 100 records; with three making the Top 10 and this one reached #1 (his next biggest hit was "Don't Talk To Strangers"; it peaked at #2 for 4 weeks in 1982)...
    Mr. Springfield, born Richard Lewis Springthorpe, will celebrate his 65th birthday in exactly three months on August 23rd, 2014.
  • Marc from Prior Lake, MnSaw Pat Benatar perform a concert in Atlantic City last night. Guitarist Neil Girardo claims it was his guitar, named "Pain" that was used to play the famous Jessie's Girl riff.
  • Richard from Fremont, AzSpringfield had about a five-year career and has had moderate success on his own label recently. His other top 10 songs are "I've Done Everything for You", "Don't Talk to Strangers", "Affair of the Heart", and "Love Somebody". He's also had many other top 40 pop and adult contemporary hits.
  • Suzie from Houston, TxI like this song but i want to know why he used the name JESSE cuz like i hav a friend whose name is jesse and they always sing this song to annoy him so i wanted to know why he used that name
  • Sazzybear from Blackwater, Australiait says PATTY IS JESSIES GIRL at 1minute and 4 seconds
  • Jami from Redding, CaAhhh stellar songwriting at it's best. Gimme a break. I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot.
  • Marissa from Akron, OhIt really bugs me that it's spelled "Jessie." That's a girl's name. My brother's name is Jesse and it's spelled like a real man spells it. (Of course he's not a real man yet because he's only 8, but you get the idea.)
  • Jason from Denver, CoMy sister was a huge fan of Rick springfield in the 1980's. She never got a chance to see him in concert at that time. I took her to see him more recently in Denver at the paramount theater. It was a LOUD and eardrum splitting show. We were cracking up at some of the fans beacause some of the women were dressed up like it was 1986. Their hair was teased to the moon, parachute pants.. the works. I kept thinking the 80's are over LIVE IN THE NOW!! Anyways, I thought that it was cool that my sister finally got to see him live ROCK ON RICK
  • Greg from Torrance, CaI wonder if Rick ever find a Woman like Jessie's Girl?
  • Susan from Westchestertonfieldville, Vaabsolutely!!! Mike from Chicago, In Boogie Nights, Alfred Molina's angst when he sings this song is hullarious and made that whole scene in the movie!
  • Chester from Smiths Grove, KyIt wasn't Jessie's Girl, it was Gary's Girl. Rick's friend was named Gary. He doesn't remember the girl's name.
  • Sabrina from Corvallis, OrThis song also got voted this year as the most populara karaoke choice. Interesting, eh?
  • Sabrina from Corvallis, OrThis song is pretty cool. He even has a "raggae" version of this song on one of his limited editions CDs. It's been covered by a band called Frickin' A and Rascal Flatts.
  • Mike from Victoria, B.c., CanadaThe song "Jesse's Girl" must have been covered by somebody or other by now ! Anybody know of any ?
  • Liz from Douglass, Txlol, i love this song if not just for the fact that i really am a "jesses girl". this is a real classic, and it will never get old.. well its already OLD but it will never be worn out lol.
  • Gandalf from Glassboro, NjA GREAT bar tune!! . I've been with several bands and always make sure Jessie's Girl is on the setlist. :) You can say what you want about Rick, but he knows how to write a hook. AND, this tune isn't as simple to PLAY as you first might think... careful listening shows that several of the licks are played in different orders throughout the song, making it rather tricky to duplicate correctly. :)
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlI used to love this song but I got tired of it playing it so much.
  • Kai from Minneapolis, MnI am an avid Rick Springfield fan. He has NOT had any plastic surgery. He was however, severely injured in an ATV accident in the late '80s. Any changes in his appearance are a result of the aging process and that accident. Jessie's Girl is one of several AMAZING songs he's done. Check out his two latest cd's shock/denial/anger/acceptance and The Day After Yesterday. s/d/a/a is even better than his 80's releases!
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiasaw a photo of Rick the other day , he's had plastic surgey, he's starting to look like Priscilla Presley...not a good look, could be worse i suppose he could look like Michael Jackson
  • Candi from Salisbury, MdActually, the correct spelling was always supposed to be "Jessie's Girl." In a 1999 interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine, Springfield told reporter Dave Karger that since "the real-life beau's name 'didn't sing,' he replaced it with'Jessie' - as in Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ron Jessie, whose name appeared on one of Springfield's favorite t-shirts."
  • Gary from Milwaukee, Wii heard that this song is true but his friends name was gary not jesse but using gary sounded he switched it to jesse
  • Will from Gold Beach, Ori love old music and this is such a good song
  • Mike from Chicago, IlThis is in the 1997 film "Boogie Nights" when several of the main characters are attempting to make a drug deal. Watching Alfred Molina singing along to this is worth the price of a rental.
  • Krysta from Hastings, MnI really am Jesse's girl! and this is a great song! serisoly it's sooo good. I listen to it as much as I can!
    I reccomend this song to everyone to listen to.

  • Stacey from Mackay, AustraliaI am a "Jesse's Girl" :)
  • May from Rumson, NjThis is the best song ever!!!!! It is on my i pod and listen to it every day.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InThis song still makes em' go wild when it's played at clubs. It brings back many adolescent memories. Rick put out many a good tune, but some of his later works got overlooked, which is too bad. I guess the 15 minutes of fame really is true for many artist.
  • Izzie from Lala, Hii love the movie 13 going on 30!! its so cute! its my favorite romantic comedy. jennifer garnder is so cute. anyways, this song is in it and i love this song!! i also found it on my brothers ipod! its a really fun fun song to listen to. i dont know why, but it reminds me of the song stacy's mom by fountains of wayne. weird huh? but i love this song!
  • Clarissa from Pearl City, HiThe video is hilarious. It's one of the bonus features for the movie "13 Going On 30"
  • Sarah from Quito, South Americai first heard this song on 13 going on 30, what a shame. its such a good song, too bad i hadnt heard it ealier. the 80's was such an awesome era, they had awesome music and awesome clothes. this song and then the cure...gosh, good times. if only i was alive then...
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiareal name Richard Louis Springthorpe born in Australia
  • Christopher from Greenfield Center, NyIf you look close at the video, you can see the name PATTY spray painted on the wall in back of Springfield and his band.
  • Lisa from Urbandale, IaI've read that Rick Springfield has always been irritated by the fact that the song's title was to be "Jesse's Girl," using the more traditionally masculine spelling, and the label misspelled the name as "Jessie," giving the song a girlier nuance.
  • Steve from Chino Hills, CaSpringfields most famous hit. His other hits "Affair of the heart" "Don't talk to strangers" and "Calling all girls" not as famous. Springfield and this song is featured in movie "13 going on 30." A good flick.
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