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chelsea girl


composers
Written by: Kerr / Burchill


publisher
© EMI Music Publishing Limited: (1979 - 2007)
© JKMC-Bucks Music Group Ltd / Hornall Music: (2008 - 2014)
© BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd: (2015 -)


background
JK: We have a song, it was the first I thought "This is a song, not just a riff" and it was a song called Chelsea Girl, that we did on our first album - we did a debut on the Old Grey Whistle Test and we played it - when we got that done - it's funny because as soon as I say 'that song', not only do I get the image - this time we weren't sitting in Charlie's bedroom - we were sitting in my mum's house and we were sitting on the couch and my mum worked in one of the first Greggs in the UK. Anyway, we're working away, and we think "We got one here" and the door goes and my Mum comes back from work and she goes "Hey boys! I've brought you strawberry tarts" [laughs] and I was like "No! No! We're working! - Oh, maybe we'll take a break." I think they were three-day old strawberry tarts and Charlie and I scoffed everyone. Every time I hear the song, I get kind of nauseous. A bit queasy. But that was the first song that...
CB: She thought it was a hit.
JK: She said, "That song's a hit!" And it wasn't a hit, but it got us a record deal. We would play it live...
JE: And the Whistle Test as well?
CB: Yeah - and we screwed it up on the Whistle Test [Laughs]
JK: We still screw it up. But it got us going and we played it on the Acoustic Tour and I'm always amazed going back to those early songs because we think they're - well, we think we're much more sophisticated now and we didn't know what we're doing there - but, when you go back, there's already craft there. But I think that came through listening to records and emulating and... we wouldn't know what a 'bridge' was, we wouldn't know it was called a 'bridge' - but there was that little bit that needed to go in there - so it was all handmade and still is homegrown.

Interview with Jamie East
Virgin Radio
17th November 2019


"It was a rainy March afternoon in April 1978 in fact and we were in my parent's front room with only Charlie’s acoustic guitar as a tool. We needed a killer "sing-along" to plop into the middle of our burgeoning live set, something that an audience could grasp and come in on with us from the first hearing. This was "a trick" I observed Steve Harley doing during Cockney Rebel's period of fame, when I saw them perform a handful of times, and we in turn rather ambitiously wanted to emulate some of the spirit of the Harley shows."

"The fact that he was playing Wembley Arena type shows while we were playing the basement of a beer cellar in Shawlands, Glasgow, somehow never managed to deter us from our desired effect, and Chelsea Girl was constructed and put together especially to be our big throw of the dice. This was the song that we wanted, the one we needed, the call out to anyone listening with a message intact that said we were not content to be another run of the mill punk outfit with dreams no bigger than securing a mention on the John Peel show!"

"Did it work? You bet it did, and right off the bat too. We were inundated in fact with requests to play it sometimes two or three times a night. The confidence it gave us was remarkable and the audience more than joined in on it also. Especially during the break down where Brian McGee does a great job." - Jim.



The extact date is lost to the mists of time i.e. "It was a rainy March afternoon in April 1978", but regardless of when it was written, Chelsea Girl was destined to become Simple Minds first pop classic. The main riff of the song was borrowed from Lou Reed's Temporary Thing whilst the titular protagonist was based on a Jean Shrimpton character. The actual 'Chelsea Girl' title was picked as it conjured up an specific atmosphere (although being Velvet Underground fans, both Jim and Charlie were probably aware of Nico's Chelsea Girl album).

The song appeared early in the set order during the band's earliest live concerts. It quickly became a live favourite and staple of the tour, and it never moved from its position in the set.

The song's popularity and potential prompted Jim and Charlie to extend it, making it one of the longer songs in the set. (Second only to Pleasantly Disturbed). This extended arrangement formed the basis of the demo recording, longer due to its slightly slower tempo and eventually abandoned secord verse and chorus. (And it was during the recording of the demo, that someone famously stole Derek Forbes' guitar. He was planning on leaving Simple Minds to play lead guitar elsewhere, but after the theft asked to stay on as bass player.)



By the end of 1978, the song was firmly ensonced in the set-list. With A&R representatives sniffing around, it was both Chelsea Girl and Pleasantly Disturbed which convinced Arista to sign the band.


Two takes of the track were recorded at Farmyard Studios in January 1979 during the Life In A Day recording sessions. A rough mix was produced by John Leckie between the 19th and 23rd February at The Townhouse using one of these Farmyard takes. This mix had a slightly slower plodding rhythm, lacked backing vocals and a proper ending, and featured a different guitar solo from Charlie at the end.

Obviously concerned the track lacked energy, a third take was recored at Abbey Road in late February, where they nailed it. Derek recalled phoning everyone to tell them he'd played the actual harpsicord used on Sgt. Peppers.

Final mixes (including some very similar out-takes) were committed to tape on the 28th February 1979.


"Promised You a Miracle was our first true pop hit, but Chelsea Girl from our debut album was in my opinion the first really good pop song that both Charlie and I wrote. Again, I recall clearly it coming together in an instant." - Jim.


Arista's plan was to release Life In A Day first so as to whet the appetite, before issuing the killer blow with Chelsea Girl, which timed to coincide with the band's 1979 UK tour. John Leckie produced an edited version for airplay on the 17th April 1979, and which turned up on a handful of 7" promo singles, but it was the album version which was eventually used for the single. Leckie's stint at The Townhouse also included an attempt to produce an extended version of the song for a proposed 12" release. He eventually admitted defeat, feeling the song was in a perfect arrangement already, and nothing was committed to tape.

It failed to set the world on fire and inexplicitly failed to chart. Despite its apparent failure, and now disencharted with Life In A Day, the song managed to cling on in their live repertoire, being a regular feature of both the Life In A Day and Real To Real Cacophony tours. From then it was dropped and forgotten.

"If the Boomtown Rats had recorded it, it would definitely have become a number one hit" - Bob Geldof.

The song briefly made an reappearance in 1998 when the demo was formally officially released on the The Early Years 1977-78 CD. Questions over legalities, especially the financing of demo tape, saw the CD being swiftly withdrawn.

However, Chelsea Girl made a dramatic and triumphant return during the Cry Tour where it appeared during the encore at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a fleeting appearance, as it was only played four times during May, but it set the scene for it's mainstream return for the Alive And Kicking Tour where it was promoted to the main set. The song was dramatically rearranged: the melody was gently toned down; and gone was the accusatory questioning of the original, now replaced by a melancholy acceptance.

The more familiar arrangement reappeared during the retrospective 30 Years Live Tour of 2008. It gained enough traction to appear live during the Graffiti Soul and following Australian Tours but it gradually slipped into the encores and then fell from grace.

When picking five tracks from each of their first five albums, the inclusion of Chelsea Girl for the 5X5 Tour was a given. It was performed closed to its original guise (which was true of all the old material for this tour) and formed part of the encore every night - an encore packed full of original classics. It also appeared in that year's Festival Tour where it was included in the longer set-lists, still as a rabble-rousing encore.

The Acoustic album of 2016 presented the song in a stripped down arrangement, devoid of keyboards, and probably the closest we'll ever hear to the idea picked out by Charlie all those years ago. They kept the arrangement, but played around with the key, presenting the song with a slightly new melody. A highlight of the accompanying Acoustic Tour the following year, the live version was rightfully selected for the Acoustive Live album in 2017.

"I am particularly delighted with the reaction to Chelsea Girl. The song means a lot to both Charlie and myself, least so in a true sentimental way. Very much still kids when we wrote it. I recall with absolute clarity the feeling in my my mother's living room, that afternoon in May 1978 when the song came together. We were convinced right there and then that we had something special on our hands. That notion was confirmed when we recorded it as a demo, that then went on to attract much attention from "record company scouts." Chelsea Girl really stood out during our live gigs as we played/toured throughout 1978 - 1980. Mick MacNeil's harpsichord sound made it so. Sadly however, it never did become the "big hit single" that many predicted it would, and by 1981 we had stopped playing it entirely. Destined to be a footnote, a relic of Simple Minds (amateurish pastimes) I certainly never imagined it would ever be resurrected. But nothing is predictable within the story of Simple Minds, and I also never imagined that one day we would be touring Europe/UK/Ireland, playing an Acoustic Tour and having some of the best shows of our lives. While also witnessing (beautiful little) Chelsea Girl, emerge again as the "killer song" it always was - and going down a real storm, night after night." - Jim, 21st May 2017



see also:
Chelsea Girl (Demo)




lyrics
And now the sound of time is getting fast,
It's getting late,
Don't know if I can take much more.
The way you talk I often wondered,
If I heard the words somewhere,
Someplace before.
I got so nervous when I called,
And found that lately,
You had gone and changed your name.
But I've got something on my mind,
I want you here,
I want you now,
You better explain.

Is it true you're running round?
Now is it true they're calling you the Chelsea Girl?
Is it true you're running round?
Now is it true they're calling you the Chelsea Girl?

Your best friend never calls you up,
But you don't mind,
'Cause lately things are all the same.
Ain't it strange how people always seem,
To know your face,
But just don't know your name?
Well I don't care there's no-one there,
That even turn around and say get out of this place.
Last night I saw a shooting star,
When morning comes,
She hides away,
A real disgrace.

Is it true you're running round?
Now is it true they're calling you the Chelsea Girl?
Is it true you're running round?
Now is it true they're calling you the Chelsea Girl?

Oh Chelsea Girl,
You got me caught up in a whirl,
I want you here now Chelsea Girl.



discography
Edit (3:55)
Producer: John Leckie
Engineer: John Leckie
Arrangement: Simple Minds/John Leckie

Chelsea Girl 7" promotional single Chelsea Girl 7" Irish single Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + Promo CD Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + Promo CD Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + 2CD Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + 3CD Celebrate: The Greatest Hits + Australian Promo 2CD Celebrate: The Collection CD 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: Promo CD 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: Promo 3CD 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: Promo CD 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: LP 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: Limited Edition LP 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: CD 40: Best Of: 1979 - 2019: Deluxe CD

Album Version (4:33)
Producer: John Leckie
Engineer: John Leckie
Arrangement: Simple Minds/John Leckie


Life In A Day Promo LP Life In A Day LP Life In A Day MC Chelsea Girl 7" single Chelsea Girl 7" Australian single Chelsea Girl 7" US promo single Celebration Promo LP Celebration LP Celebration MC Life In A Day LP (Virgin Mid-Price Reissue) Life In A Day MC (Virgin Mid-Price Reissue) Celebration LP (Virgin Reissue) Celebration MC (Virgin Reissue) Life In A Day LP (Virgin Budget Reissue) Life In A Day MC (Virgin Budget Reissue) Celebration CD All The Things... Canadian Promo MC Life In A Day CD Celebration LP (Virgin Budget Reissue) Celebration MC (Virgin Budget Reissue) Celebration CD (Virgin Budget Reissue) Street Fighting Years Limited Edition MC Box Set Street Fighting Years Limited Edition CD Box Set Compact Collection Life In A Day Reissue CD Celebration Disky CD Life In A Day Disky CD Life In A Day Remaster Promo CD Life In A Day Remaster Limited Edition CD Life In A Day Remaster CD Early Gold Promo CD Early Gold CD The Platinum Collection CD Early Gold US Promo CD Early Gold US Promo CD X5 Box Set Sampler X5 Life In A Day Promo CD X5 The Vinyl Collection (79,84)



Demo Version (6:15)
Producer: Lex McEwan and Simple Minds

The Early Years 1977-1978 CD

Live Version (27th Mar 1979) (4:42)
Recorded: Old Grey Whistle Test

Seen The Lights - DVD 1 Bonus Tracks In-House CD

Live Version (8th September 1979) (4:52)
Recorded: Paris Theatre, London, UK
Mastered by: Simon Heyworth

Silver Box Promo CDR #1 Silver Box

Live Version (24th November 2009) (4:13)
Recorded: Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player

Live Version (3rd December 2009) (4:47)
Recorded: MEN, Manchester, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (5th December 2009) (4:52)
Recorded: Arena, Sheffield, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (6th December 2009) (4:51)
Recorded: CIA, Cardiff, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (9th December 2009) (4:50)
Recorded: 02, Dublin, Ireland
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (11th December 2009) (4:52)
Recorded: SECC, Glasgow, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (12th December 2009) (4:56)
Recorded: AEC, Aberdeen, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player Limited Edition Boxed Gold USB Stick

Live Version (17th December 2009) (5:07)
Recorded: Popcentrum, Tilburg, Netherlands
Mixed By Concert Online

Boxed USB Stick Boxed MP3 Player

Live Version (23rd February 2012) (4:03)
Recorded: Cirque Royal, Brussels, Belgium
Recorded by: Olivier Gerard
Mixed by: Olivier Gerard
Engineered by: Rudy Coclet
ISRC: GB01A1201429

5X5 Live Promo CD #1-2 5X5 Live Promo CD #2-2 5X5 Live 5X5 Live Irish Promo CD

Acoustic (4:27)
Producer: Andy Wright, Gavin Goldberg and Simple Minds
Recorded By: Gavin Goldberg
Mixed By: Gavin Goldberg


Acoustic Promo CD Acoustic Digipak Promo CD Acoustic Extended CD Acoustic Australian Promo CD Acoustic LP Acoustic CD

Acoustic Live (10th November 2016) (4:23)
Sound Engineer: Olivier Gerard
Audio Mixed By: Olivier Gerard assisted by Rudy Coclet
Mastered By: Alan Ward


Acoustic Promo CD Acoustic Live CD + DVD




videography
Album Version (4:33)
Producer: John Leckie
Engineer: John Leckie
Arrangement: Simple Minds/John Leckie

Chelsea Girl promo video
Live Version (27th March 1979) (4:42)
Recorded: Old Grey Whistle Test

Seen The Lights - A Visual History Promo DVD Seen The Lights - A Visual History DVD
Acoustic (4:27)
Producer: Andy Wright, Gavin Goldberg and Simple Minds
Recorded By: Gavin Goldberg
Mixed By: Gavin Goldberg


Chelsea Girl Acoustic graphic promo video

Acoustic Live (10th November 2016) (4:23)
Sound Engineer: Olivier Gerard
Audio Mixed By: Olivier Gerard assisted by Rudy Coclet
Mastered By: Alan Ward


Acoustic Live CD + DVD Acoustic In Concert DVD Acoustic In Concert Blu-Ray




sessions
Kid Jensen, Radio One: 10th April 1979
Piccadilly Radio 261: 7th June 1979



downloads
Live Version (24th November 2009) (4:13)
Recorded: Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (3rd December 2009) (4:47)
Recorded: MEN, Manchester, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (5th December 2009) (4:52)
Recorded: Arena, Sheffield, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (6th December 2009) (4:51)
Recorded: CIA, Cardiff, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (9th December 2009) (4:50)
Recorded: 02, Dublin, Ireland
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (11th December 2009) (4:52)
Recorded: SECC, Glasgow, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (12th December 2009) (4:56)
Recorded: AEC, Aberdeen, UK
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download

Live Version (17th December 2009) (5:07)
Recorded: Popcentrum, Tilburg, Netherlands
Mixed By Concert Online

Concert Online Download




live history
Simple Minds: 1978
Life In A Day Tour: 1979
Real To Real Cacophony Tour: 1979-1980
The Floating World Tour: 2002
Alive And Kicking Tour: 2003
Celebrate 30 Years Live Tour: 2008
Graffiti Soul Tour: 2009
Australian Tour: 2010
5X5 Tour: 2012
Festival Tour: 2012
Travelling Light: 2016
Acoustic: 2017