Song of the Day #392: ‘Jesse’s Girl’ – Rick Springfield

rickspringfield20 Best Songs of the 80s – #12

I’m not proud of this, but I have a vivid memory of the first time I heard of Bruce Springsteen. It was in the early 80s, probably around the time Born in the U.S.A. was released. A DJ mentioned that Bruce Springsteen had a new album coming out and I thought to myself… “Ha! That guy totally said Rick Springfield’s name wrong.”

Yes, my musical knowledge was limited for a 12-year-old boy.

But that also speaks to what a star Rick Springfield was at the time. While I wasn’t aware of the already legendary Springsteen, I sure was aware of ‘Jesse’s Girl.’ Springfield went on to have a big hit with ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ and a couple of minor hits after that, but he will forever be known for this great song (and as Dr. Noah Drake to General Hospital fans).

I think this song hit such a chord not just because of its terrific pop sound but because we all can relate to its subject matter. Who hasn’t watched jealously from the sidelines while a good friend got the girl (or boy) we wished was ours? Springfield’s delivery really captures the angst inherent in that situation.

Incidentally, this song is the only one on my list that shows up in that wonderful Boogie Nights scene in which Alfred Molina’s coked-up drug dealer plays his 80s mix tape as his Asian house boy lights firecrackers and generally scares the shit out of Mark Wahlberg, Thomas Jane and John C. Reilly. Also featured in that scene are Night Ranger’s ‘Sister Christian’ and Nena’s ’99 Luftballons,’ two songs that could have easily found their way into this series if I shuffled the deck. I’ve embedded that scene below today’s Song of the Day clip.

Jessie is a friend
Yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine
But lately something’s changed that ain’t hard to define
Jessie’s got himself a girl and I want to make her mine

And she’s watching him with those eyes
And she’s lovin’ him with that body, I just know it
Yeah ‘n’ he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night

You know, I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
Where can I find a woman like that?

I play along with the charade
There doesn’t seem to be a reason to change
You know, I feel so dirty when they start talking cute
I wanna tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot

‘Cos she’s watching him with those eyes
And she’s lovin’ him with that body, I just know it
And he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night

Like Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
Where can I find a woman
Where can I find a woman like that

And I’m lookin’ in the mirror all the time
Wondering what she don’t see in me
I’ve been funny, I’ve been cool with the lines
Ain’t that the way love supposed to be?
Tell me, where can I find a woman like that?

You know, I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I want Jessie’s girl
Where can I find a woman like that?
Like Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #392: ‘Jesse’s Girl’ – Rick Springfield

  1. Amy says:

    What is amazing about this song is that the first, and, to be honest, probably the only thing I think about when I hear it or hear of it is the scene from Boogie Nights, a film I saw only once and liked well-enough. The power of cinema is strong indeed.

    Mistaking Bruce Springsteen for Rick Springfield is downright cute, and I also remember being amused and delighted by what I thought at the time was the incredible similarity of their names but now just seem like two guys with last names that start with S. When did Born in the USA come out? Cause that certainly cleared up any confusion, I’m sure.

  2. Amy says:

    Oh, and I think “Sister Christian” deserves an honorary spot on this list, as it was certainly the title from the 80’s that most found its way into your daily life πŸ˜‰

  3. Dana says:

    Born in the USA came out in 1984, three years after this song. I can certainly see from the 12 year old perspective how the Boss could be the relative unknown compared to Springfield at that point, particularly since Bruce had stopped recording in the late 70’s over a contract dispute, and then released The River and Nebraska, which were not so commercially successful in the pop world with the exception of the hit Hungry Heart. My confession on that song is that, for years (probably until college), I never knew that Springsteen was the person responsible for Hungry Heart, as it seemed so different from other songs he had done.

    Anyway, as to today’s song, I suspect if you had made this your number 1 song from the 80’s, there would be no quibbling with that placement. This song basically launched the 80’s, coming out as such a huge hit in 81 and was in heavy rotation on the brand new MTV back when I’m fairly sure they only had about a dozen videos to play all day long.

    The song is so damn hooky that even the most hardened pop cynics can likely be found singing along when nobody is watching.

    Oh, and so long as we are making confessions, I was such a geeky 14 year old when this song came out that I actually watched General Hospital back then (Oh, come on people Luke and Laura ruled!). So, when this song became a hit, I was just so impressed that Dr. Noah Drake could sing.:)

  4. Kerrie says:

    Love, love, LOVE this song!! I was totally a Dr. Noah Drake groupie (and devoted GH’er at the time – also the days of Demi Moore’s Jackie Templeton character, I might add). I still blast this song on the radio whenever I come across it.

    I also loved the way they featured the song in “13 Going on 30” with the young Jennifer Garner character singing along and kissing the tv screen while watching the video. It totally captured the essence of that era for young girls like me. This song still brings me back and is a great 80s classic.

    In case you couldn’t tell, I’m still really enjoying this theme! Yay 80s!! πŸ™‚

  5. Kerrie says:

    Oh, and as to my comment about kissing the tv screen, etc. above, that totally applied to Duran Duran for me – and they better appear in this countdown somewhere. )hint hint) The 80s would not have been the 80s without Duran Duran! πŸ™‚

  6. Amy says:

    Ha. Dana was just saying the same thing the other day. Trying to figure out which Duran Duran number would appear πŸ™‚

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