"I Need My Girl" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron Brooking Dessner....
I am good, I am grounded
Davy says that I look taller
I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I need my girl
I need my girl

Remember when you lost your shit and
Drove the car into the garden
You got out and said I’m sorry
To the vines and no one saw it
I need my girl
I need my girl

I’m under the gun again
I know I was the 45% of then
I know I was a lot of things
But I am good, I am grounded
Davy says that I look taller
I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I need my girl
I need my girl

There’s some things that I should never
Laugh about in front of family
I’ll try to call you from the party
It’s full of punks and cannonballers
I need my girl
I need my girl

I’m under the gun again
I know I was the 45% of then
I know I was a lot of things
But I am good and I am grounded
Davy says that I look taller
But I can’t get my head around it
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I keep feeling smaller and smaller
I keep feeling smaller and smaller


Lyrics submitted by cartoon violence, edited by jahjahjeh, flamebroiledchicken, letsgetitright, Tims, cgoward, zombiepear, mic4h

"I Need My Girl" as written by Matthew Donald Berninger Aaron Brooking Dessner

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I Need My Girl song meanings
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  • +13
    General CommentFurther proof they are the best band on the planet.
    lawlessdanon January 22, 2012   Link
  • +8
    My InterpretationThis seems to me like a heart-wrenching, but completely relatable story of a teenager's dependence on his girl for companionship and emotional support.

    "I am good, I am grounded," is a nice play on being grounded emotionally, but also the life of a teen, going from good to grounded, to good to grounded.
    "Davy says that I look taller," seems like a clear indication that the narrator is a teenager, growing up. But despite him maturation, he can't shake this feelings of depression: "can't get [his] head around it / I keep feeling smaller and smaller / I need my girl." So despite him growing up and entering into late teens/early adulthood, he feels this isolation without her. He needs his girl.

    The second stanza (Remember... no one saw it) is an emotionally-charged memory they shared together that he's looking upon fondly of her crashing the car, and them laughing about it. Really endearing, and revealing about their relationship. He needs his girl.

    The third (and eventually fifth) is a detailing of the pressure he's feeling from (most likely) his family, but quite possibly himself, too. "I'm under the gun again (pressure) / I know I was a 45 percenter then (struggling with grades and expectations) / I know I was a lot of things." He was a lot of things in high school, but the one constant-- he needs his girl.

    The fourth reveals his feelings of isolation and anxiety towards both family ("There's some things that I should never / Laugh about in front of family"), and his peers ("I'll try to call you from the party / It's full of punks and canonballers"). He doesn't feel connected with his family or the other kids his age they way he feels connected with her. And in both situations, he feels a longing, and a need for his girl.

    What I'm unsure about is how separated he actually is (vs. how much he feels like he is) from her. Either she is gone for whatever reason (broke up with him and he misses her, perhaps), or they are still together, but he is totally emotionally dependent upon her, and constantly feels like he needs her there with him because he loves her so very much. Either way, it is a amazingly beautiful and heart-breaking story of a young man's love for his girl.

    This, and This Is the Last Time I think are my favorites from TWFM so far, with Fireproof and Don't Swallow the Cap close behind. I can't get over how truly incredible this band is, we are lucky to have them.
    Whirling10on May 16, 2013   Link
  • +7
    My InterpretationHomesickness and the longing for the love and the life left behind, as painful as it is, combined with solitude, does open occasional doors to soul-searching and self-discovery... All the doubts, worries, thoughts get tangled up in his mind -- all the verses seem to be written down as small notes on different, unrelated occasions. Fleeting thoughts, moments, observations, memories...
    So the yearning for home, nostalgia, where everything is familiar and simple, is what keeps him sane when everything around him, including himself, are at the verge of falling apart...
    gatinhaon November 19, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThey started playing this at the tail-end of the "High Violet" tour, yeah? In that context, the lyrics seem pretty straightforward. The narrator is away from home and a girlfriend/wife. He's starting to feel insignificant because he isn't around, and he is trying to reassure himself that he's important to loved ones- "but I am good and I am grounded." It's very lovely and appealingly earnest, at least for these guys. I wonder if it will re-surface on a proper album in a few years?
    Tiger_milkon April 15, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentAm I the only one who thinks it's:

    "I know I was a 45 percenter then"?

    Which, after googling the term '45 percenter', could make it a political reference to the Obama administration?

    I could have the wrong end of the stick though, as I'm British and know little of American politics.
    BloodbuzzOhioon May 31, 2013   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationLots of discussion about the line "I know I was a 45 percenter then". Obviously broadly he is saying he was an underdog, i.e. less likely to win, but this is almost certainly a poker reference.

    Poker players will talk about their odds in a hand as a percentage, for example, you might say something like, "When the money went in, I was a 60% to win that hand." In poker a 45% chance to win is very common, it is the odds you have when you are playing two higher cards against a pair. For example, if you have an Ace and a King against a pair of 7's. The Ace & King have a 45% chance to win. Lots of amateur players think the odds in this kind of situation are 50/50, but the author here knows enough to know he is 'only a 45 percenter.'

    This is reinforced by the line before 'I'm under the gun again'. 'Under the gun' (UTG) is a position in poker. It means you're the first player to act in a hand. With a few exceptions this is generally the worst place to be statistically, as you have the least information about your opponents, so you are at a disadvantage. A hand that you might play in a later position you would be mathematically correct to fold 'under the gun', For example, if you have a pair of 4s and you are first to act, the best play is to probably fold. There is likely to be someone behind you with a better hand and you would be betting blind as you would have to act first. Conversely, the same hand (a pair of 4's) in a later position might be a legitimate hand to play.

    So, feeling 'under the gun again' implies someone who feels perpetually at a disadvantage, as if the world is conspiring to make things difficult for them.
    charles101on October 30, 2015   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningFrom an interview:
    - Listening to this record, I picked up a lot more loneliness or longing than death.

    - There's a lot of that, too. There's a lot of love songs. "I Need My Girl" is one of the most direct, earnest love songs we've ever written. I wrote it about missing my wife and daughter. It's pretty simple. It's not about any other thing. And there's a lot of romance, a lot of pining
    Fabthebugon March 16, 2016   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionIt's very hard for me to find a particular meaning of this song. Is it maybe about love that nobody supports, nobody agrees with but still, he needs her.... He's under the gun, he's grounded....also, they are separated.
    undoon April 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song ComparisonIs it just me or is the main guitar riff VERY reminiscent of the closing acoustic guitar riff played during the last 2-3 minutes of Sufjan Stevens' "Impossible Soul"? Which is interesting in and of itself due to The National's ongoing musical relationship with Sufjan. Deliberate or not, it's a great little piece of connectivity.
    reckoner11on May 17, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is a very biased interpretation because I'm in the middle(on one end) of a long distance relationship. I think the writer has been separated from a woman he holds very dear. Either by distance, or emotional trauma, these two people have been pulled apart. I choose to see it as separated by distance. I pull more from it this way.
    "I am good, I am grounded"- The writer is in good mental health. He feels fulfilled in most of his life; he knows his place.
    "Davy says that I look taller"- Maybe there was something in the writer's life that had been bringing him down, perhaps his relationship. This is what makes me think, perhaps, it ended on a bad note. Davy could be a (mutual) friend of the couple. He sees the writer without her, keeping on, and tells him "You look like you're doing well; you're standing a bit taller."
    "I know I was a forty five percenter then"- The increased distance, whether emotional or physical, intended or accidental, has made the writer realize how much more effort he could have put into his relationship.
    Now for my derived personal meaning. This is exactly how I feel living 1200 miles away from the woman I love. I'm in school, working a fun job with family, and have very little bills. I'm by no means dissatisfied with my life. I also have an unending ache. I feel dwarfed by my perpetual loneliness. I can be in a room with twenty people, all interested in hearing what I have to say, and feel stranded in the middle the sea. At parties, the pinnacle of human happiness, I want nothing to do with those there. Nothing in my twenty two years of existence has made the world feel larger or more lonely than not being able to brush my girl's hair, or hold her hand. The difference between need and want is often lost these days. Being taught a very imprecise language natively has led me to choose my words very carefully. I need my girl. I keep feeling smaller and smaller.
    legal_alienon March 15, 2014   Link

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