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Rolling Stones unreleased: That Girl Belongs to Yesterday
*Click for MORE STONES UNRELEASED TRACKS
*Also known as MY ONLY GIRL
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Regent IBC Studios, London, England, Nov. 20-21 1963
From Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012:
Gene Pitney recorded the Richards (with s and before Mick in the credits) and Jagger composition That Girl Belong to Yesterday. Te original tune was called My Only Girl and intended for George Bean but Gene changed the melody, left the lyrics as they were and recorded it for himself. It was released in March 1964 and reached number 7 in the charts. This was the first time a Jagger/Richards song had gone Top Ten in the UK.
“That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” is a real oddity in the careers of both Gene Pitney and the Rolling Stones. Those aren’t names that most rock fans normally associate with each other, but in 1963, Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham had come to know Pitney by doing some publicity for him in the U.K. As a consequence, Pitney and the Rolling Stones got to know each other, and Pitney heard a song that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had recently written.
At that point, Jagger and Richards had barely begun writing at all, and had yet to see their songwriting credit adorn a Rolling Stones release; Pitney was already a major international star, probably one with no shortage of skilled, experienced writers eager to pitch him material. Nonetheless, Pitney took a flyer with the Jagger-Richards song, originally called “My Only Girl” and recorded (though not released) by George Bean. Pitney changed the title to “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday,” made some other alterations to the arrangement, and put it on a single in early 1964.
“That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” is a strange song, not least because it’s so at odds with most of what Jagger and Richards would subsequently pen for the Stones. It’s a tortuous, rather obscurely worded pop/rock ballad, in keeping with general tenor of many early Jagger-Richards compositions, which were often quite pop-oriented before they found their groove in a more blues-R&B-oriented bag. The track, co-produced by Oldham and Pitney (according to Oldham’s autobiography, Stoned) and arranged by Charles Blackwell, starts with a Spector-esque crush of instruments and a grandly intoned, descending piano phrase. It’s not the most memorable Pitney melody, but its drawn-out structure and moodiness is well suited for his persona. Strangely, the title is not sung until long into the track; a small bridge gives him the chance to really draw out the syllables as he remembers that the girl used to be his.
The instrumental break is strange, too, in that a background chorus sings the words — not “that girl belongs to yesterday,” but the tune’s original title, “my only girl.” There’s a sub-Spector-esque Wall of Sound feel to the entire production, as was the case with numerous discs with which Oldham was involved.
“That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” really isn’t one of Pitney’s better 1960s singles — it sounds more like an above-average album track — and didn’t make the Top Forty in the U.S., though it was the first Top 100 single to bear a Jagger-Richards songwriting credit (even preceding any of the songs they wrote for the Rolling Stones). In Britain it did much better, making the Top Ten, and probably giving Jagger and Richards a good deal of confidence in continuing to hone their songwriting endeavors, as it represented the first major commercial success of a Jagger-Richards song, as the Stones had yet to release a Jagger-Richards composition as a single.